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Jessica Simpson in Dolly Parton Duet?

Jessica Simpson in Dolly Duet? | Doris Duke: The Original Paris Hilton | Heath's Murder in the Media

Jessica Simpson in Dolly Duet?

Jessica Simpson hit New York Wednesday night with a thunderclap. She headed straight to the Waverly Inn with mom Tina and record company prez Charlie Walk.

The paparazzi followed in full force. It didn’t hurt that the whole night was full of babes at the Waverly: Kelly Ripa, Victoria Silvstedt and Carol Alt were among those who kept the flashbulbs popping.

Also inside were record producer Peter Asher and wife Wendy, Marsha (Mrs. Robin) Williams, Robin’s 25-year-old son Zack, plus Ronald Perelman and Barry Diller at separate tables.

Asher had just come from seeing himself in a cameo in HBO’s wonderful film, "Bernard and Doris," directed by Bob Balaban. The saga of billionairess Doris Duke and her butler Bernard Lafferty stars Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes in surefire Emmy-winning performances.

But, back to Jessica Simpson, who’s in town taking a break from working on her country album in Nashville.

Jessica told me she’s meeting with none other than Queen of Country Dolly Parton next week about doing a duet on the album. She’s also working with writer/producer John Shanks. In other words: she’s taking country seriously. Fans of the genre needn’t worry.

Indeed, when talked turned to Vince Gill, Jessica told me: "We love Vince Gill. Even more, I love Amy Grant, his wife. She’s the reason I got into singing at all. When I first started, I sang Christian music. Amy was my role model." She cited one of this column’s favorite videos, Grant’s "Baby Baby."

And Jessica has a sense of humor. When I asked her to please stay away from the NFL, I added: "But if you want to date Tom Brady for a couple of days, it’s OK." After all, maybe she could help the Giants beat the Patriots! She declined, however.

And where are Jessica’s dad, Joe, and sister, Ashlee? Working on a club tour to get ready for the April release of Ashlee’s new album. These Simpsons never rest!

Doris Duke: The Original Paris Hilton

One look around the 10th floor reception area of the Time Warner Center Wednesday night and you wonder who didn’t go to the premiere of "Bernard and Doris"?

First of all, Susan Sarandon in a hot red dress showed off her amazing figure. Sarandon as Doris Duke is pure genius. She makes a great blonde, too!

Sarandon brought daughter Eva Amurri and a passel of pals. Among those who turned out for her and for director Bob Balaban and his wife Lynne were Steve and Jo Buscemi, Regis and Joy Philbin and the amazing Elaine May with legendary almost 84-year-old Stanley Donen.

(Can you name Donen’s classic films that he directed? "Singin in the Rain," "Funny Face," "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," "Damn Yankees" and "Charade." Fugeddaboutit!)

HBO’s Colin Callender did the introductions, including those of Dominick Dunne and Henry Schleiff, who make cameos in Balaban’s beautifully rendered, funny and sad film. Among those I caught in the audience were Blythe Danner, producer Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and husband Dan Thomas, Nobu restaurateur Drew Nieporent, Wallace Shawn and Amy Irving.

The biggest star coupling of the night? New York Post gossipeuse Cindy Adams with Rush Limbaugh! Said Rush, who’s extremely affable in real life (if that’s what this is): "I’m amazed by all the liberal Democrats here who say they like John McCain." Me, too, Rush!

Heath's Murder in the Media

Heath Ledger’s been dead 10 days, but now the media’s going to kill him.

A tape billed as being from a "Hollywood drug party" was supposed to make its debut Thursday on syndicated pay-for-play shows "Entertainment Tonight" and "The Insider." At the last minute, the shows seem to have been scared off by lawyers. It doesn’t matter; the damage is done. Last night, poor Mary Hart announced, "We will have the video tomorrow!" They showed clips from it.

Additionally, People magazine is promising stills from the film Friday in its new issue.

The tape was made two years ago, but "is only now surfacing." In other words: the people who had it were too scared of legal repercussions to show it when Ledger was alive, and he might have been saved. Now that he’s dead, all bets are off.

OK. Nice. You know that by the end of the week, the tape will be all over the Internet.

Meantime, US Weekly, without a toxicology report or any actual named sources, did what they could to kill Ledger this week. A sole tidbit of information — that Michelle Williams tried to take Heath to rehab and he refused to get out of the car — is the basis for this story.

I say: to write these stories without actually having the toxicology report or any friend of Ledger’s going on the record is irresponsible.

But there is a Hollywood grapevine, for be sure. Certain people — young people — seem to know what’s going on behind closed doors.

Almost an hour after Ledger’s death was announced last week, a young publicist I barely know said to me — in passing, at Sundance — "you’d be dead too if you ‘used’ like that." I was shocked. It seems a lot of people knew something that the rest of us didn’t. But until real facts come to light, patience should be a virtue.