Taking Names

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Ray of hope?

The New York Post yesterday reported that Rachael Ray and her husband of almost two years, John Cusimano, frontman for the band Cringe, are “going through a messy breakup.”

“Her mother is in town from Lake George to help Rachael find an apartment,” an unnamed source told the newspaper.

Rumors of their split have been circulating ever since the National Enquirer reported last November that Mr. Cusimano paid Jeaninne Walz up to $500 a session to spit on him and rub her feet on his face in 2000, before he met Miss Ray.

Meanwhile, rumors are also circulating that Miss Ray “has been flirting” with Colby Donaldson, the ex-“Survivor” cast member who joined the “Rachael Ray” show in February, on and off the set. But Charlie Dougiello, Miss Ray’s representative, told the New York Post that “Rachael and John are happier than ever and have been in the Hamptons since Tuesday enjoying the holiday week with friends.

Rachael’s mom, Elsa, is upstate at the family cabin. There is no truth to reports they are about to get divorced.”

Avril: ‘Playin’ my song’

Canadian singer Avril Lavigne has responded to claims that her latest hit single “Girlfriend” from her “The Best Damn Thing” CD is based on a song titled “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” by the 1970s power pop band the Rubinoos.

In May, the Rubinoos’ songwriters James Gangwer and Tommy Dunbar filed suit against Miss Lavigne, her co-songwriter Lukasz Gottwald, and her record label, Apple, for copying the 1979 song. Over the weekend, Miss Lavigne, 22, claimed on her official Web site that she had “never in my life heard of” the Rubinoos or their song, but noted that a few words could have been similar “because all songs ultimately deliver the same human emotions. As humans we speak one language.”

“Their claim is based on five words,” People quoted Miss Lavigne, as saying. “I have been falsely accused of ripping their song off. … and there is no merit to their claim.”

The Rubinoos, meanwhile, have posted the conflicting songs on their official Web site with an invitation to listen to both: “Avril Lavigne vs. The Rubinoos. You decide.”

Woody starts shoot

Security guards held back curious sunbathers as veteran director Woody Allen began shooting his latest star-studded film yesterday on a beach in Barcelona, Spain.

American actresses Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall and Spanish stars Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz are in the cast of the as-yet untitled film.

The shoot is scheduled to last seven weeks and takes place in Barcelona, the northern Spanish region of Asturias, and Mr. Allen’s home of New York City.

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