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Lovable Clay ...

Clay Aiken has fond memories of holidays at home, driving with a fake Christmas tree sticking through the back windows of his packed Honda Accord because his family waited too late to buy a real tree.

"Most of America is accustomed to things going wrong around the holidays," Aiken says. "Those are the memories I think are the funniest." But one thing the self-described "skinny, redheaded, geeky little dork from the South" hopes goes off without a hitch this holiday season is his 21-city Joyful Noise tour.

The tour, which begins Sunday in Pasadena, Calif., and ends the day before Christmas in Detroit, aims to be less crass, more class than Aiken's previous U.S. tours. "A few less signs and a few less people screaming, 'Clay, I love you,'" he said.

"This is a different kind of concert," Aiken said. "It's not meant to be a show where fans bring signs and scream. The goal is to be more intimate, almost semiformal. The crew will be dressed up in their Sunday best and I hope the audiences will do the same."

A vote for Law ...
Jude Law is People magazine's new "sexiest man alive."

People also picked nine "off the charts" sexy superstars: Orlando Bloom, Jake Gyllenhaal, Usher, Colin Farrell, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis and Johnny Depp.

But what's really got the chattering classes a-twitter is news that Karl Rove, oft compared to Machiavelli and sometimes called "Bush's brain," is the leading contender for Time magazine's Person of the Year.

Not into the commute ...
Glenn Close says her first role as a regular on a TV show "will be kind of a great adventure" -- including the commute to Hollywood.

Close, 57, who lives in Westchester County and has a teenage daughter, said that playing a police captain in FX's "The Shield" was "the last thing I thought I'd be doing, but they were very persuasive. Other than the fact that I have to commute back and forth, I'm looking forward to it."

"This will be an unusual balance, and I think they're going to be smart about scheduling me so I can have a regular chunk of time at home," said the actress, best known for movies such as "Fatal Attraction" and "The Big Chill."

Dylan song is tops ...
Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," written and recorded by the 24-year-old folk-rock visionary in 1965, tops Rolling Stone magazine's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time," a special edition on stands today.

The Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" is second, followed by John Lennon's "Imagine," Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," Aretha Franklin's "Respect," the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations," Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode," The Beatles' "Hey Jude," Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Ray Charles' "What'd I Say."

Liza's no-love triangle

Is David Gest secretly bankrolling the latest legal assault on his ex-wife Liza Minnelli?

Allies of the singer contend that Gest is footing the lawyers' bills for Minnelli's former bodyguard, M'Hammed Soumayah, who last week filed a $100 million suit accusing her of physical abuse and sexual harassment.

"Liza fired M'Hammed when she found out he was talking with David's lawyer," a source tells the New York Daily News. "That's why she fired him this past summer."

Soumayah's lawyer, Harvey Moss, had no comment, nor did lawyers for Minnelli and Gest. But friends of Liza say she's holding up well during this latest public attack.

"She's fine," said Scott Schechter, author of "The Liza Minnelli Scrapbook." "She went out to Los Angeles Tuesday to film episodes of 'Arrested Development.'"

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