Scoop! Jess & John embark on a public affair

Jessica Simpson’s new album, “A Public Affair,” couldn’t be more appropriately titled, because the former Mrs. Nick Lachey is dating singer John Mayer.

“She’s tiptoeing back into the dating world,” an insider told People magazine. “It’s the first stage. She’s never been happier.”

Then-married Jess and the dreamy, guitar-playing “Your Body is a Wonderland” singer met last year at a pre-Grammy bash.

“John told her that when she

wasn’t married anymore to give him a call,” a source told Us Weekly.

Simpson, 26, and Mayer, 28, bumped into each other at a nightclub in June, which kicked off weeks of flirty e-mails, text messages and phone calls.

The couple finally had a real date in July, and have kept things very low-key, as both singers are busying promoting their latest albums. Simpson is making all the usual PR stops, talk shows, “TRL,” etc., while Mayer is co-headlining a tour with Sheryl Crow in support of his CD “Continuum.”

“They’ve only gotten together a handful of times over the last few weeks,” a Mayer source said. “But yes, they’ve made out.”

Meowch!

Leonard DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson headed for the hills when a wildcat decided to stroll through their golf game.

The actors, who are working together on Martin Scorese’s new film, “The Departed,” were teeing off in Los Angeles when the feisty feline sauntered onto the course.

“Leo’s new to the sport and was getting some pointers from Jack when a bobcat appeared at the 15th hole,” a source told The Daily Mirror. “Jack told him to run like hell. They jumped in their golf cart and fled.”

Our advice: Always let the wildcat play through.

Pass the mic

Kyra Phillips, anchor of CNN’s “Live From … ,” accidentally re-enacted a scene from 1988’s “The Naked Gun” Tuesday night, when she walked into the ladies’ room with her wireless microphone still on while covering President George W. Bush’s speech in New Orleans.

Anyone watching the president’s address didn’t hear his post-Katrina analysis, but instead heard Phillips talk to an unidentified woman in the echoey restroom. Phillips called all men a nasty term that’s not fit to print in a family newspaper, then went on about what a good man her husband is and ended with some trash talk about her brother’s wife.

“My husband is handsome and he is genuinely a loving — you know, no ego — you know what I’m saying?” Phillips unknowingly told the world, according to The Associated Press. “Brothers have to be, you know, protective. Except for mine. I’ve got to be protective of him. … His wife is just a control freak.”

Shortly after, someone finally clued Phillips in, saying, “Your mic is on. Turn it off. It’s been on the air.”

CNN anchor Daryn Kagan, clearly disconcerted, tried toexplain away the incident as “technical difficulties.” CNN later issued a statement apologizing to viewers and the White House. No word

on when Phillips will apologize to her sister-in-law, but we’re sure Fox News is all over the story.

Curb your enthusiasm, Lindsay

Can Harry Morton tame the wild partying beast that is Lindsay Lohan? Well, he’s trying.

Morton, owner of the Pink Taco restaurant chain and the son of Hard Rock Cafe billionaire owner Peter Morton, and the “Prairie Home Companion” actress have been dating for a couple of months, and he is working to deter her from so much nightclubbing.

“Harry has told her not to drink so much and is trying to calm her down,” a source told The New York Post.

And it just might be working. Lohan was planning on attending the MTV Video Music Awards tonight, which surely would’ve resulted in many tabloid reports of excessive drinking and embarrassing run-ins with dueling party girls such as Paris Hilton, but sources say Morton talked her out of it.

“Harry told her not to go, so she called her friends and said, ‘I don’t need to be there,’” the source said.

smansfield@examiner.com

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