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Ashlee and Pete: Close ‘Friends’

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The case for singer Ashlee Simpson and FallOut Boy rocker Pete Wentz being just friends is getting weaker by the day. The duo, who deny being a couple, were recently seen canoodling at a club. Then Monday night, cameras caught them smooching at Vegas hot spot Jet. Sure sounds, ahem, friendly.

Larry faces custody fight over Dannielynn

Tuesday was a tremendously emotional day for Larry Birkhead, as DNA testing at long last proved he is the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby, Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern. So when will he get to take his little girl home?

After the court hearing, Howard K. Stern, who has had custody of Dannielynn, said Larry was welcome to spend as much time with the baby as he liked — and indeed, Web site TMZ.com reports, the Birkhead clan showed up at chez Stern later that evening.

But to avoid traumatizing little Dannielynn, the handoff from Howard to Larry could reportedly take two to four weeks. Howard is consulting professionals to ensure a healthy transition, his lawyer told TMZ.

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Yet long-suffering Larry’s legal saga may not be over. Virgie Arthur, Anna’s mother, has suggested she may mount a court battle to share custody of her granddaughter.

“I do not want to share custody with anyone else,” Larry told “Today,” explaining, “It would imply that I’m unfit as a parent, which I’m not. I’m looking forward to giving Dannielynn everything that she needs and all the love and support.”

But he added that “I have no problem with anyone that has good intentions being allowed to visit the baby and see the baby and be a part of the baby’s life.”

And Virgie insists her intentions are indeed good. “All I care about and all I ever cared about was the safety of Dannielynn,” she declared after the court hearing.

If she means that, maybe she should let this man finally raise his child in peace.

Katie’s Cutie

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The National Enquirer reports that Katie Couric is dating a triathlete who is 17 years younger.

Katie Couric has a new reason to flash her famous smile. The CBS newswoman, 50, is dating a hunk who’s 17 years younger, the New York Daily News reports.

The Ashton to her Demi is allegedly Brooks L. Perlin, a Connecticut-bred triathlete. According to the paper, which first spied them enjoying a romantic meal at NYC restaurant Peasant on March 28, the National Enquirer is outing the couple with photos and details of their romantic getaways together.

And apparently this is no mere fling. “They have been dating for several months,” a Katie pal told the Daily News.

Go, Katie!

Welcome Back, Barkers

Despite the fact that she once publicly celebrated her pending divorce from Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker with a lavish “divorce party,” Shanna Moakler has confirmed that the couple is giving it another go.

“We’re pulling out of the separation. We’re still married,” Shanna told People recently at an event, where the “Meet the Barkers” stars, both wearing their wedding rings, reportedly snuggled and kissed throughout the evening.

So what brought about this improbable reunion?

“Love, keeping our family together and believing in ourselves,” Travis opined to People, adding that their children’s joy at seeing them back together “is like the biggest treat of all.”

The tattooed rocker and the former Playboy model are rather unlikely poster children for traditional values — but hey, we’re happy they’re happy.

Spotted Canoodling

As Scoop! reported Wednesday, Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds spent a whirlwind Easter weekend together in NYC. And though they may have enjoyed Sunday lunch with a group of friends, over dinner that night at the Spotted Pig, they made it crystal clear that they are definitely a new couple, the New York Daily News reports.

“They honestly did not stop making out the entire night,” a source dished to the paper. “A girl at the next table told them: ‘Would you guys stop making out before I send this to Us Weekly?’”

Priceless!

Five quick takes

Willa Ford of “Dancing With the Stars” will play Anna Nicole Smith in a biopic.

Julie Bowen of “Boston Legal” and husband Scott Phillips had a son, Oliver, on Tuesday.

Usher will launch his own fragrance line this fall in collaboration with Liz Claiborne Cosmetics.

– “Dancing With the Stars” host Samantha Harris and husband Michael are expecting their first child.

Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee sunned on a Hawaii beach with their two sons Monday.

Kitty Raymond is an entertainment writer who has a celebrity astrology blog at www.celebastroblogy.com.

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