Hilton vs. Richie: When Celebs Duke It Out

Now that "The Simple Life" girls have been down on the farm, can we stop them from fighting like the Hatfields and McCoys? And is it any surprise that the public loves a glitterati catfight?

We now know that Paris is burning. "It's no big secret that Nicole and I are no longer friends," Hilton, 24, said in a statement issued last week. "I will not go into the details of what happened. All I will say is that Nicole knows what she did and that's all I am ever going to say about it."

The 23-year-old Richie isn't talking about what drove them apart, but this has got to hurt. She and Paris go back to the first grade, when they were classmates at the ultra-exclusive Buckley School, no doubt practicing their red carpet moves on the cafeteria lunch line.

Didn't anyone warn them that Hollywood has ruined many friendships, and that comedy is especially brutal?

Costello hated Abbott. When Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis broke up in 1956, they wouldn't even stand on a stage together for another 20 years, and that only came after Frank Sinatra interceded.

The real dope on Cheech & Chong is that they haven't been in a film for 20 years. Now, after several false starts, they say they're finally ready to team up on a new project, which bears the working title "Grumpy Old Stoners." But will it ever happen?

Fox TV isn't saying yet who will be Hilton's sidekick next season, when "The Simple Life" goes to Hawaii. Richie is still under contract, but America's most famous hotel heiress is already pushing to replace her with Kimberly Stewart, Rod's 25-year-old daughter, who's already a regular with Hilton at all the right clubs.

Fighting 'Like Two Sherman Tanks'

Maybe Richie will miss out on the hula dancing, but will anyone really be surprised when it's time to squeeze the inevitable Paris and Nicole reunion for every bit of attention it can glean? There's certainly a long tradition of stars ending their little spats when it's time for a big payday.

Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, perhaps the two most famous battling divas, put aside decades of bitterness long enough to cash in on their rivalry by playing warring sisters in 1961's "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"

The peace treaty didn't work perfectly. While filming a fight scene, Davis kicked Crawford just a little too hard and the resulting wound required stitches.

"They were like two Sherman tanks, openly despising one another," director Robert Aldrich later recalled. But pairing the real-life rivals guaranteed box-office gold.

Indeed, peace, love and understanding are always nice, but celebrity feuding still generates a lot more news. Rumors of off-screen dissension among the ladies of "Desperate Housewives" have only coincided with the show reaching even higher ratings and generating even more media attention.

Likewise, the reported rift between Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker of "Sex and the City" never hurt the show's success. And if their rancor has put off the possibility for a movie, just remember, things change.

In the end, celebrities fight over the same things as everybody else. It could be about politics (The Dixie Chicks vs. Toby Keith) or money (Dave Grohl vs. Courtney Love) or ego (Kobe vs. Shaq). Other times, it's just a date gone bad (Britney Spears vs. Fred Durst).

The only major difference: When it comes to celebrities, it just brings them more attention, and often that's a very good thing.

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