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Songwriter becomes fourth judge on 'Idol'

Scoot over, Simon Cowell. American Idol is adding a fourth critic to its panel of judges.

Grammy-nominated songwriter Kara DioGuardi will sit alongside Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson when the eighth season of American Idol premieres in January, the Fox network said yesterday.

DioGuardi's songs have been recorded by Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Celine Dion, Faith Hill , Pink and Carrie Underwood.

"We are turning the heat up on Idol this year and are thrilled to welcome Kara to the judges' table," said creator and executive producer Simon Fuller in a statement. "She is a smart, sassy lady and one of America's most successful songwriters. We know she will bring a new level of energy and excitement to the show."

Braxton to put on her dancing shoes for 'Stars'

Maryland native Toni Braxton, Susan Lucci and Lance Bass will hit the floor on ABC's Dancing with the Stars.

They are among 13 celebrities slated to compete on the new season of the top-rated dance contest, premiering Sept. 22.

The other contestants are Cloris Leachman, Kim Kardashian, Ted McGinley, Brooke Burke, NFL champ Warren Sapp and two Olympic athletes: Misty May-Treanor, who won her second gold medal for beach volleyball at this year's Summer Games in Beijing, and Maurice Greene, who won two gold medals in track at the 2000 Games in Sydney.

Rounding out the cast are chef Rocco DiSpirito, Cody Linley of Hannah Montana and comedian Jeffrey Ross.

The names were announced yesterday on ABC's Good Morning America.

Kardashian checked into a New York City hospital Sunday after cutting her foot on a glass table in her hotel room.

"I will be able to dance. I went to the hospital. I'll be fine," she said in a phone call to GMA.

Sheen and his new wife are expecting baby

Make that two and a half men, three daughters and a baby on the way for Charlie Sheen.

The actor is expecting a child with wife Brooke Mueller, Sheen announced yesterday in a statement.

"Brooke and I are thrilled!" the star of the CBS hit Two and a Half Men wrote. "She's the best stepmom Sam, Lola and Cassandra could ever hope for. Seeing her love and affection with those three, I know she'll be an amazing mom. Unless I bat 100 percent, perhaps a boy awaits us."

Sheen has three daughters: 25-year-old Cassandra Jade Estevez, whose mother is Sheen's former girlfriend Paula Profit, and two girls with ex-wife Denise Richards. Sheen and Richards are embroiled in a bitter custody battle over 3-year-old Sam and 2-year-old Lola.

Sheen and Mueller, a real estate investor, tied the knot in late May.

Barenaked Ladies singer survives plane crash

Barenaked Ladies frontman Ed Robertson and three others have survived a float-plane crash near Bancroft in southeastern Ontario, the band's manager, Adam Smith, said in an e-mail.

The private float-plane went down Sunday afternoon.

Robertson's friend Gord Peel told The Intelligencer that the other passengers were Robertson's wife, Natalie, and their friends Julie and Jeff Jones.

Smith said Sunday night in an e-mail that everyone was fine, but would make no other comment.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada was assessing the scene of the accident, spokeswoman Julie Leroux said yesterday.

From Sun news services


Former Washington Post Executive Editor Benjamin C. Bradlee is 87.

Jazz musician Branford Marsalis is 48.

Actor Chris Burke is 43.

Latin pop singer Thalia is 37.

Actor Macaulay Culkin is 28.

Actress Keke Palmer is 15.

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