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Lachey Denies Rumors of Engagement

hollywoodexclusive1Tabloids have claimed that Nick Lachey is close to popping the question to on-again girlfriend Vanessa Minnillo, but we caught up with the actor/singer, who tells us there are no plans as of right now.

When asked if he's looking to settle down any time in the near future, Lachey responds, "I don't know. Definitely, family is important to me so I think when the time is right for that, I'll certainly make that move. I don't have imminent plans one way or the other.

"One thing I've learned is to just take life as it comes, one day at a time and not get too far ahead of yourself," adds Lachey, who is still working on his album "Coming Up For Air" after two years. "I hope it comes out this year. It's one of those processes that has gone on a lot longer than I thought it would. It's an interesting time in this business, and every day, it changes a little bit more," he notes. "Music will always be a passion for me. It will always be home base, but at the same time, luckily, I've been afforded opportunities to go and do other stuff so I'm trying to explore those as much as I can as well."

One of those opportunities has been to create and produce the MTV reality series "Taking the Stage," which returns for a second season Thursday (1/28). The show follows students from Lachey's former Cincinnati high school, the School for Creative and Performing Arts. "We have some great new kids. They bring very different personalities than we had last season. We also have some returning people — Tyler, who's now a senior at the school, and Mia, who has graduated. She lives in town and is working on her band," he says. "This is a labor of love for me. It's my alma mater and a school that's meant a great deal to me over the years. It's a big influence as to me being in the performing arts to begin with so it makes me happy to go to work every day."

THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: "Tracey Ullman's State of the Union" launches its third season tonight (1/25), with the multiple-Emmy-winning comedienne portraying characters ranging from Rachel Maddow to Barney Frank, Meghan McCain, Christiane Amanpour and Arianna Huffington — in one sketch alone.

How does she keep her comedy fresh after all these years? "I take years off," answers Ullman. "And there's always something new to do and someone new to impersonate. I've never thought, 'I'd like to impersonate that person' and not been able to do it. Eventually, it comes to me. And I like writing stuff. I like directing stuff.

"I'm just glad that people are still giving me money to do it," she adds. "We keep it small, me and my husband. We write it and produce it. We distribute it. We own the show. It's our joy to do this."

Ullman's hubby, producer Allan McKeown, shows up on tonight's show, too, playing Bernie Madoff. She doesn't mind pointing out that her husband bears a strong resemblance to the former NASDAQ chairman who is now serving a 150-year prison sentence for defrauding clients of billions of dollars.

VIEW FROM DOWN UNDER: Craig Horner, whose internationally popular "Legend of the Seeker" series films in New Zealand, doesn't mind at all that he's far away from the red carpets and bright lights of show business-obsessed cities. In fact, "The less I'm around that kind of stuff, the better," he says. For one thing, he considers it a plus to be able to focus all his energies on the series, which is now in its second season. For another, observes the Australian actor, "I think we get a little too obsessed with the materialistic world and we forget life is a playground. I think it's good to remember — don't sweat the small stuff." Horner also enjoys his pristine world of "exciting creatures, magical waterfalls ... It's a very unifying kind of realm, fantasy. It's not race specific, gender specific. It's not exclusive."

Production continues on the current season "until about April, probably. And after that, we'll see what's required of me, I guess. Part of me wants to just go hide out on the Gold Coast and go to the beach every day."

LOSING IT: ABC Family is still working on casting for its "Huge" series pilot — about a group of overweight teens at a fat camp — though forces on the show posted announcements for open calls all over the Internet awhile ago. It must not be that easy to find what they're looking for: talented plus-sized young actors to play a variety of characters ranging from shy, bookish Becca to rebellious, opinionated Wilhelmina (a talented singer) — to Trent, leader of the thinner, popular boys and Amber, the thinnest and hottest girl in camp. They're hoping to find 18-year-olds who can play 14-17, but are also looking at juveniles for the parts. Also still be to filled is the role of the female doctor who runs the place. A show that combines weight loss drama, ala "The Biggest Loser," with the teen social intrigues that have already provided ABC Family with several hits? Sounds like a good bet depending on how it's done and if they can cast it.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster

To find out more about Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and read their past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


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