- The Washington Times - Monday, August 15, 2005

Seacrest in

Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest will co-host the 34th edition of “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” live from New York’s Times Square on Dec. 31, Associated Press reports.

Mr. Clark, 75, has been recovering from a Dec. 6 stroke.

The longtime host of “American Bandstand” hasn’t appeared on television or done interviews since his stroke. Last year, daytime talk-show host Regis Philbin stood in while Mr. Clark watched from his hospital bed.

Mr. Seacrest, host of “American Idol,” has agreed to a multiyear deal to executive produce and join Mr. Clark as co-host of the ABC special. Mr. Seacrest will eventually take over as host.

“Dick Clark is an American icon. I am honored that he has entrusted me with such a role in this national tradition,” Mr. Seacrest said yesterday.

Family feud

Five orphaned siblings who moved into a new dream home on the ABC reality hit “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” are suing the network, the company that built the house and the couple who took them in after their parents died, the AP reported Friday.

The children range in age from 15 to 22. They claim that after “Extreme Makeover” built a new nine-bedroom mansion for them to live in with Phil and Loki Leomiti, the Leomitis engaged in “an orchestrated campaign” to drive them away by insulting them and treating them poorly.

The children ultimately moved out of the Leomitis’ home in Santa Fe Springs, a small city southeast of Los Angeles, and are living separately with friends, said Charles Higgins II, the eldest sibling. Their complaint, filed by their attorney Patrick Mesisca, alleges fraud and breach of contract. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

“It is important to note that the episode was about the rebuilding of the Leomiti family’s existing home to accommodate the inclusion of the five Higgins siblings, whom the Leomitis had invited into their lives following the death of their parents,” ABC said in a statement.

The parents of the Higgins children died 10 weeks apart in the spring of 2004 — the mother of breast cancer and the father of heart failure. The Leomitis, who knew the children from church, opened their home to them in July 2004, according to the lawsuit.

Producers of “Extreme Makeover” learned of the children’s plight from a TV newscast. Workers demolished the Leomitis’ house in February and then built the new one. The builder, Pardee Homes, paid off the mortgage on the new house but the Leomitis retained the title, according to the lawsuit. However, the siblings moved out around the time the episode first aired in late March, the lawsuit states.

Mr. Mesisca acknowledged that the siblings were never promised a house in writing. But ABC’s statements and actions could legally be considered a promise, he said.

Off the hook

Paula Abdul, the “nice” judge on Fox’s “American Idol,” has been cleared to continue in her role on the show following an investigation into claims that she had a sexual relationship and coached a former “Idol” contestant in 2003, Reuters news agency reports.

In a lengthy statement issued Friday, Fox and “Idol” producers FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment said the probe had found no “corroborating evidence or witnesses” to substantiate the claims of former contestant Corey Clark.”

Miss Abdul did acknowledge having telephone conversations with Mr. Clark while he was a contestant on the show, but according to Fox, “their accounts of those conversations differ greatly, and no evidence was uncovered to resolve the conflicts in their accounts.”

Compiled by Christian Toto and Thomas Walter from Web and wire reports.

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