Gotti health watch: Victoria Gotti was on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday to deny that she lied to the N.Y. Daily News about having breast cancer, chalking the whole thing up to a problem of definition. "What I have is considered by most to be cancer. Noninvasive cancer," Gotti said after the Post ran "Gotti's sick cancer scam" as a front-page headline on Wednesday morning. "If you look it up on the Internet, it is cancer." Producers for her A&E reality show, "Growing Up Gotti," meanwhile invited writers from the Post and the News to her house in Long Island, where Gotti seemed to grow increasingly frustrated and confused, calling what she suffered from "breast disease," and removing her top so writer Andrea Peyser could feel her pacemaker. (AP, N.Y. Post)
Clay, Fantasia, Ruben and ... Bilal?: Earlier this week in Baghdad, auditions started for an Iraqi version of "American Idol." The TV show, called "Pop Idol," will feature contestants singing and judges judging, though the finale will be held in Lebanon and without a studio audience for security reasons. Just getting to the studio through the dangerous streets of the Iraqi capital was a big challenge for the 2,000 hopefuls who showed up. The favorite so far in the contest is a 12-year-old named Bilal from Mosul, whose audition brought most of the studio and many of the judges to tears. "When this 12-year-old boy on Pop Idol came along, he sang a song which made us feel for our nation," says Laith Ali, a BBC correspondent from Baghdad. "I felt he was sending a message to the people, singing for the people of Iraq." (BBC)
Nick Lachey -- King Kaufman wannabe: The Cincinnati Enquirer carried a long column by a new writer on Wednesday -- the singing, dancing, Jessica-Simpson-marrying Nick Lachey. The paper, knowing Lachey is an avid University of Cincinnati fan, was just looking for a reaction quote on the news that the team is thinking about firing basketball coach Bob Huggins when the singer's representative requested an entire column. In the high tone of a ticked-off local sports fan, Lachey decries the news. "The bottom line is, this is ludicrious [sic]! We should be ashamed of ourselves as fans of the Bearcats and the university as a whole if we lay down and let this slide," he writes. As it turns out, this isn't the first time the Enquirer has run a Lachey column: He also wrote a column in May after Cincinnati Reds pitcher Danny Graves was let go by the team. (Editor & Publisher, Cincinnati Enquirer)
More speculation that Russell Crowe is close to settling his assault case with the Mercer Hotel clerk he reportedly hit with a phone, though the reported six-figure deal is a long way from the $11 million payout the British tabloid Daily Mail wrote about last week. ... Judges in Aruba have ordered NBC not to air an interview with the suspect in the Natalee Holloway case, Joran van der Sloot. The interview, shot for the network's cable channel, MSNBC, took place while a film crew was touring the prison where van der Sloot is being held. His lawyer, Antony Carlo, said, "We argued before the judge that what NBC did was totally unacceptable, totally unethical, totally unprofessional, and that that has nothing to do with journalism." NBC says it is still considering its next course of action. ... Michael Graham, the radio talk show host who was fired this week from a Washington, D.C., station after calling Islam a "terrorist organization," will return to the air on Friday to fill in for John Ziegler on Los Angeles station KFI. Graham has refused to apologize for his remarks. "I will not apologize for something that is true," he told the Washington Post. ... A group of Hollywood writers is suing Fox for violating labor laws on reality programs like "Joe Millionaire." The suit claims that writers and editors, while not writing actual dialogue, still "script" the shows by combing through countless hours of footage to craft narratives for the shows.
Ralph Fiennes on how the thought of getting his own action figure influenced him to take the role of Lord Voldemort in the upcoming Harry Potter movie: "I've been wanting to have an action figure for so long. I can't wait to see it." (Contact Music)
Scarlett Johansson on why she feels she just can't use British swear words with an American accent: "I can never say, 'bollocks.' It doesn't come out of my mouth the right way." (Sify.com)
Ralph Fiennes and Booker Prize-winning author Ian McEwan show up to chat with Charlie Rose (PBS, check local listings). Also, it's the finale of "Being Bobby Brown" (Bravo, 10 p.m. EDT).
-- Scott Lamb