Last October, NBC unveiled the 16-member cast of “Celebrity Apprentice” to reporters. Everyone on hand at the locked-down news conference swore to keep the participants’ identities a secret until the network said “go.”
With NBC giving the green light Thursday, the media can take pride at having kept the lid on names like Joan and Melissa Rivers, onetime NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman, comedian Andrew Dice Clay and former “Baywatch” babe Brande Roderick.
They’ll face off when the reality series hosted by Donald Trump returns for its eighth season March 1, along with country music’s Clint Black; former Olympic figure skater Scott Hamilton; singer Brian McKnight; comedian Tom Green; former football great Herschel Walker; poker champ Annie Duke; pro golfer Natalie Gulbis; TV personality Khloe Kardashian; “Deal or No Deal” model Claudia Jordan; singer Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins; and former “Monster Garage” host Jesse James.
Instead of a job with Trump, the celebrity contestants will compete in business-oriented tasks around Manhattan to raise money for their favorite charities.
On and off the hookup
Meanwhile, on the celebrity romance beat:
•Patricia Arquette (“Medium”) has filed for divorce from Thomas Jane (“Punisher”) after two years of marriage. She’s seeking custody of their 5-year-old daughter, Harlow.
•Alyssa Milano, the former “Who’s the Boss?” star who previously had a penchant for major-league baseball pitchers, is engaged to marry Hollywood agent David Bugliari.
•Lindsay Lohan says she hasn’t split with DJ Samantha Ronson, despite reports they’d sparred several times over the holidays.
Benjamin kept it buttoned
Brad Pitt insists he didn’t cheat on Jennifer Aniston with Angelina Jolie, saying his relationship with Jolie didn’t begin until after he and Aniston split in 2005.
“I’m very proud of the way that it was handled. It was respectful,” Pitt says in a story on W magazine’s Web site, adding that he and Aniston “still check in with each other.”
Ripped from the headlines
Actor Rip Torn has pleaded not guilty to drunken driving charges in Connecticut, nearly two years after being fined and losing his license for similar charges in New York.
Police say Torn, 77, was driving in the breakdown lane in his 1994 Subaru with a Christmas tree tied to the top.
Do they get blue suede shoes?
Fans who gathered in Memphis for a cake-cutting on what would have been Elvis Presley’s 74th birthday Thursday got word of two new residents at Graceland.
Presley’s ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, led several hundred fans in singing “Happy Birthday” on the front lawn, then announced that a pair of rescue horses – named Max and Bandit – have taken up residence on the grounds of the famous white-columned house.
The birthday bunch
Singer Joan Baez is 68. Actress Susannah York is 68. Guitarist Jimmy Page is 65. Singer Crystal Gayle is 58. Actress Joely Richardson is 44. Musician Dave Matthews is 42. Singer A.J. McLean (Backstreet Boys) is 31. Singer Paolo Nutini is 22.
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