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A Simpson comeback...

Watch out, Kate Middleton. Another royal consort is in the limelight as the royal wedding approaches.

Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee who scandalized Britain and brought down a king in the 1930s, is back in style.

She appears as a character in the Oscar-winning film "The King's Speech" -- as the interloper who lures Edward VIII away from royal duties, thrusting his stammering younger brother, George, onto the throne. She turns up trailing glamour and menace in recent British TV series "Upstairs Downstairs" and "Any Human Heart."

She is the subject of two new biographies and is the central character in "W.E.," a forthcoming movie directed by Madonna -- one powerful woman examining another.

Her striking sense of style continues to inspire designers well after her death in 1986. Her jewelry sold for $13 million at a Sotheby's auction, and now fans are even buying her lingerie. One of her scarlet chiffon nightdresses with a cape sold for more than $10,500 at auction Thursday, and her Louis Vuitton vanity case went for $77,500.

Style icon, romantic heroine, villain -- Simpson is an elusive character. Anne Sebba, whose biography, "That Woman: A Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor," will be published in August, says her enduring fascination rests on that sense of mystery.

"Why and how did a middle-aged woman, not conventionally beautiful, beyond childbearing years and with two living husbands win over a man so forcefully that he gave up not just a throne but an empire to live with her?" Sebba said.


Back to blue roots...

Today, the spectacle of three greasepainted men in space-age get-ups thumping on drums has more in common with laser light shows -- or even Lady Gaga -- than high culture. But in 1991, it was precisely in the name of art that the Blue Man Group took up residence off-Broadway in New York's Astor Place Theatre.

Blue Man was always an esoteric undertaking, says Phil Stanton, a co-founder. It was artsy young New Yorkers, after all -- Stanton, fellow actor Chris Wink and Wink's childhood friend Matt Goldman -- who first roamed the streets slathered in bright blue greasepaint just to get a rise out of famously blase New Yorkers.

"I wouldn't call it performances," Stanton says from New York, where the group now helms a mini-empire, including a charter school. But the label "performance artists" seemed to fit, and the group certainly had magnetism, first winning the run at Astor Place and quickly exploding into today's global phenomenon/tourist trap of splashing paint, twinkling Lite-Brite sets and raging rock scores that rival a U2 show.

Twenty years after that first big break, the Blue Man Group is getting back to its roots. This winter, the silent cerulean wonder is on a national tour that forgoes big arenas in favor of stops at theaters.

Stanton says the shows won't sacrifice the elements that audiences are familiar with: the Cap'n Crunch symphonies, the black-light theatrics, the paint-splattering drumming. They'll simply stuff some of that renowned bigness into more intimate surrounds.


Mel booked, released...

California authorities say Mel Gibson was booked and released on a misdemeanor battery charge as part of the criminal case involving his former girlfriend.

Jail records show the actor-director turned himself in Wednesday to the El Segundo Police Department.

He was fingerprinted, and his mug shot was taken, a requirement of a plea deal that resulted in his being on probation for three years and attending a year of domestic violence counseling.

The 55-year-old Oscar winner was accused of striking his then-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, during a January 2010 fight, but his no-contest plea did not include an admission of guilt.

Gibson opted to turn himself in on the same night his film "The Beaver" premiered at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas.

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