JESSICA SIMPSON GETS A SECOND CHANCE

Jessica Simpson is on the cover of Vanity Fair. You would think for June that Vanity Fair would bestow such an honor on an actress from a big summer movie, someone who’d earned such an honor.

But let’s face it: VF, like all magazines, is a dogfight for circulation. Oscar winners aren’t going to cut it. Simpson is a stroke of genius: she’s just tabloid enough to bring in new readers, and attractive enough to make the cut.

She’s also borderline enough that the magazine sidesteps its usual puff piece attitude and is a tad rougher on this celeb than they’ve been to others in the recent past. But Simpson and her manager dad Joe can take it. There’s nothing here we haven’t heard before about either of them.

The fact is, the Mario Testino pictures are sensational. And no matter how you slice it, this girl is not going anywhere. She’s young, hot, and she can sing. She’s also got a famous football player boyfriend. Jessica Simpson is going to be around long after we’re gone!

So kudos to her pr team. Getting the cover of VF is a coup. And VF shows its savvy: by turning her into an icon apart from the other US Weekly cuties, the magazine has probably scored a circulation triumph for itself. Everybody wins.

PS All this talk of who’s fat and who isn’t: glass houses, folks. That’s all I’m sayin’…

JANE FONDA GETS HER TONY NOMINATION

It only took 40 years, but Jane Fonda has a Tony nomination this morning. She was nominated for Best Actress in a Play for “33 Variations.” This is the best news I’ve heard in a long time. Fonda not only deserves it, but she could win. And she’s in a formidable category, with two theater heavyweights–Janet McTeer and Harriett Walter from “Mary Stuart”– and two Hollywood favorites — Marcia Gay Harden and Hope Davis from “God of Carnage.”

Fonda emailed me today she’s particularly proud of the other four nominations for “33 Variations” including the set designer Derek McLane. His set for the Beethoven archives is dazzling.

The Tony nominations are otherwise mostly expected. There are other a couple of surprises and snubs, though. The Tony nominators completely ignored “Irena’s Vow” and actress Tovah Feldshuh–this was a mistake, I feel. The play is wonderful, and the audiences love it.

On the other hand, the Tony’s were kinder to “Pal Joey” and “Guys and Dolls” than those shows deserved. The group also didn’t do a lot for “West Side Story,” snubbing the men from the show while rewarding only the ladies.

But 2009 has been great on Broadway, better than in years and years. CBS may finally have a hit Tony show in the ratings come June 7th, what with all the familiar Hollywood faces who’ve held forth this spring. In the end though expect lots of wins for “Billy Elliott,” nominated deservedly for 15 awards. It’s going to clean up!

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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