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OUT OF DATE: The risk of pretending to know everything that goes on in celebrities’ lives is the risk of looking foolish when it becomes clear that you don’t. In Touch became the latest magazine to fall into that trap this week when it published a story in the current issue headlined “Renée: I’m happier than ever.” The two-page article quotes actress Renée Zellweger saying, among other things, “I’ve met my partner, my soul mate.”

Unfortunately for In Touch, on the day after the issue went on sale, Zellweger and her “soul mate,” country singer Kenny Chesney, announced they were splitting up.

If the magazine’s writers failed to see it coming, perhaps that was because none of them had actually spoken to Zellweger, according to the actress’ spokeswoman, Leslie Sloane-Zelnick. “We’ve never done an interview with or for this magazine, ever,” she said Friday. “In Touch prints what it wants, whether it’s true or not.”

Richard Spencer, the weekly’s editor in chief, said the quotes were supplied by a British news agency; he didn’t know when they had been obtained. “How old is old? Because she’s only been married a few months,” he said. “Whether it was one week ago or three weeks ago, what difference does it make?” He added, “When you’re used to writing about actors and actresses, and you suddenly find out they’ve changed their minds about their love lives, it’s par for the course.”
— Jeff Bercovici

MAG MONEY RETURNED: Advance Publications got some expected but nonetheless good news on Friday, when U.S. attorney Colm Connolly said the company would get back all $8.3 million in funds forfeited by embezzler Josef F. Murphy. During Friday’s proceedings in Wilmington, Del., district court, Murphy, a.k.a. Joseph Murphy, a former credit collection manager for the Advance Magazine Group, was sentenced to three years in prison for writing 38 bad company checks worth $10,694,267.49.
— Sara James

JOWDY DUTY: On Friday, Fairchild Publications tapped Vanity Fair associate publisher Paul Jowdy to replace Chris Mitchell as publisher of Details. Mitchell had announced earlier in the week he was leaving the publishing business to run BDDW, a boutique American furniture company. Prior to joining Vanity Fair, Jowdy was advertising director at Condé Nast Traveler. He was also Details’ sales development manager when the title was still under Condé Nast management. He returns to Details on Oct. 5.
— S.J.

This story first appeared in the September 19, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

MCDARRAH UPDATE: After being arrested and charged with trying to arrange sex with a minor, Us Weekly reporter Timothy McDarrah has been released pending trial. Bail for McDarrah, a longtime tabloid reporter who edited Us’ “Hot Stuff” column, was set at $50,000, with $5,000 to be paid in cash, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. A preliminary hearing will take place Oct. 14; until then, McDarrah has been ordered to remain in his home and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

The case against McDarrah, as it stands so far, is outlined in a 10-page complaint, which includes numerous graphic details, as well as the fact that he used an e-mail address registered in his mother’s name to conduct online conversations with one he believed to be a 13-year-old girl (but who was, in fact, an FBI agent).
— J.B.

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