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Walters backs Rosie in Trump flap

Barbara Walters is back from vacation -- and she's standing by Rosie O'Donnell in her bitter battle of words with Donald Trump. Walters, creator of ABC's "The View," said yesterday on the daytime chat show that she never told Trump she didn't want O'Donnell on the show, as he has claimed. "Nothing could be further from the truth," she said. "She has brought a new vitality to this show , and the ratings prove it," Walters said of O'Donnell, who is on vacation this week. Walters also took a moment to try to smooth things over with Trump, who got all riled up when O'Donnell said on "The View" that he had been "bankrupt so many times." "ABC has asked me to say this just to clarify things, and I will quote: 'Donald Trump has never filed for personal bankruptcy. Several of his casino companies have filed for business bankruptcies. They are out of bankruptcy now,' " Walters said. In a phone interview, Trump said he appreciated that Walters "did a retraction" and claimed the show's "ratings are up because of people like me." O'Donnell and Trump have been feuding since he announced last month that Miss USA Tara Conner, whose title had been in jeopardy because of underage drinking, would keep her crown. Trump is the owner of the Miss Universe Organization, which includes Miss USA and Miss Teen USA.

Smith baby's DNA test deadline Jan. 23
A judge in the Anna Nicole Smith baby dispute has given the former Playboy Playmate until Jan. 23 to have her daughter undergo paternity testing sought by a former boyfriend, the man's attorney said. Superior Court Judge Robert Schnider ruled in favor of the 39-year-old Smith's ex-boyfriend Larry Birkhead last month. Birkhead claims he's the father of Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern, who was born Sept. 7 in the Bahamas. It wasn't known when Smith's daughter might have the DNA test. Birkhead, 32, sued in October to get a paternity test. Smith's longtime personal lawyer, Howard K. Stern, maintains he is the baby's father.

Oprah eyes women's social change
Oprah Winfrey said yesterday that she wants her new $40 million South African leadership academy to change the way women are perceived in the country. "I wasn't just trying to make a school that would develop political leaders," the talk-show host told the British Broadcasting Corp. "I'm looking for the opportunity to change the paradigm, to change the way not only these girls think . . . but to also change the way a culture feels about what women can do." The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, located in the small town of Henley-on-Klip, south of Johannesburg, opened Tuesday and aims to give 152 girls from deprived backgrounds a quality education in a country where schools are struggling to overcome the legacy of apartheid.

Police reunion tour rumored
Rumors are swirling that the Police will reunite this year for dates in England and the United States, which would be the rock trio's first since disbanding in 1986. Sources told reports in the British press were legitimate but wouldn't publicly comment until details are nearer to completion. A Police reunion has been the concert industry's dream for two decades, as it is believed the band could play stadiums internationally should it reunite. Besides an impromptu set at Sting's 1992 wedding to Trudie Styler, the Police's only other post-breakup show was in celebration of its 2003 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While Sting has repeatedly expressed reluctance at reuniting, guitarist Andy Summers told Billboard he was certain the group could've continued past its 1983 commercial peak with "Synchronicity."

Timberlake, Diaz part ways
Pop singer Justin Timberlake and actress Cameron Diaz have split, Star magazine reported yesterday. Diaz, 34, and Timberlake, 25, began dating shortly after meeting at the 2003 Kids' Choice Awards. . . . Emilie de Ravin, who plays Claire Littleton on ABC's "Lost," has separated from her husband after six months of marriage, her spokesman said yesterday. The 25-year-old Australian actress and actor Josh Janowicz, also 25, were married in Melbourne in June. It was the first marriage for both. They have no children.


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