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Siriano's fierce project: Payless shoe, purse line

Christian Siriano, the Annapolis native who won Season 4 of Project Runway, will design a line of inexpensive handbags and footwear for Payless ShoeSource, the New York Daily News reported this week.

The collection, which will hit the runway during New York's Fashion Week in February, should be available in stores by next fall. Items in the line will range in price from $25 to $45.

"I'm so excited to design and create with such an amazing brand that is all about fashion and trend but, most importantly, is also about affordability," Siriano told the Daily News.

Still not making nice

Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines is the target of a defamation lawsuit by the stepfather of one of three 8-year-old boys slain in 1993.

Maines spoke out for three people convicted of the slayings and alleged the stepfather was instead involved in the killings.

Terry Hobbs, stepfather of Steve Branch, who was killed in 1993 with Christopher Byers and Michael Moore, filed suit in Pulaski County Circuit Court in Arkansas on Nov. 25. The suit names all three members of the Dixie Chicks, but focuses on Maines.

The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Hobbs claims he suffered loss of income, injury to his reputation and emotional distress.

Maines attended a Dec. 19 rally in Little Rock, where she claimed Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley - known to sympathizers as the "West Memphis Three" - are innocent and that supposed new evidence pointed to Hobbs. Her comments echoed a Nov. 26, 2007, letter that was still on the Dixie Chicks' Web site on Thursday, in which she claimed that new DNA testing of hair from the crime scene linked Hobbs to the killings and that his behavior after the slayings indicated his guilt.

Waving a magic wand

A Harry Potter fan and Web site operator said yesterday that he's publishing a different version of his Potter reference guide after losing a copyright-infringement lawsuit filed by the author of the hugely popular book series.

Steven Vander Ark said during a news conference at a small bookstore in Michigan that Muskegon, Mich.-based RDR Books will publish The Lexicon: An Unauthorized Guide to Harry Potter Fiction and Related Materials on Jan. 12.

Author J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros., maker of the Harry Potter films and owner of intellectual property rights to the Potter books and movies, sued RDR Books in 2007 to stop the publication of a similar volume by Vander Ark. A federal judge in New York ruled in favor of Rowling in September, permanently blocking publication of that reference guide.

Vander Ark, a former school librarian who launched the Harry Potter Lexicon Web site in 2000, and his publisher say the new version meets specifications for such a book laid out in the judge's ruling. The author said he spent five or six months working on it after the three-day court hearing in April.

He didn't want to hurt him

Boy George, the flamboyant former Culture Club front man, was convicted yesterday of falsely imprisoning a male escort.

Norwegian escort Audun Carlsen had alleged that he was handcuffed to a wall hook at the singer's east London apartment on April 28, 2007. Prosecutors said Carlsen was held by the singer, whose real name is George O'Dowd, for less than an hour.

Carlsen, 29, said O'Dowd swung a metal chain at him when he got loose and fled the apartment after a naked photo shoot.

O'Dowd, 46, admitted he restrained Carlsen, 29, with handcuffs while trying to figure out if Carlsen had tampered with a computer. The '80s singer was released on bail after the verdict. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 16. False imprisonment carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Such a sentence is not expected in this case, though the judge warned O'Dowd that some jail time was probable.

today's birthdays

R&B; singer Frankie Beverly (Maze), 62.

Actress JoBeth Williams, 60.

Comedian Steven Wright, 53.

Actress Janine Turner, 46.

Writer-director Judd Apatow, 41.

Actress Lindsay Price, 32.

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