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By United Press International   |   Jan. 27, 2012 at 4:04 AM

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The latest news on today's hottest celebrities ...

ROBERT HEGYES: Actor Robert Hegyes died Thursday after suffering an apparent heart attack in his Metuchen, N.J., home, his family said. He was 60.

Hegyes is a Rowan University graduate best known for his work as Juan Epstein in the 1970s sitcom "Welcome Back Kotter" and as Detective Manny Esposito in the 1980s police drama "Cagney and Lacey." He also made guest appearances on "NewsRadio," "Diagnosis Murder" and "The Drew Carey Show."

Mark Hegyes told the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger his brother had previously suffered a heart attack a couple of years ago and had not been in good health since.

The newspaper said Metuchen police and paramedics responded to a 911 call because Robert Hegyes was experiencing chest pains. He was taken to JFK Medical Center in Edison, but died shortly after he arrived, the report said.

Robert Hegyes was honored with the rest of his "Kotter" cast-mates, including John Travolta, at the 9th Annual TV Land Awards last year.


HOWARD STERN: U.S. radio icon Howard Stern will help David Letterman celebrate 30 years in late-night television next week, CBS said Thursday.

Stern is to make his 21st appearance on Letterman's "Late Show" Wednesday. He previously was a guest 20 times on Letterman's "Late Night" show on NBC.

"As of Feb. 1, 2012, David Letterman will have hosted 5,443 shows and welcomed 17,904 guests in his 30 years in late-night television," CBS noted in a news release. "He has been credited with redefining the talk-show genre when 'Late Night with David Letterman' premiered Feb. 1, 1982. The groundbreaking show earned five Emmy Awards and 35 Emmy nominations during its 11 1/2 years on the air. Since its debut on CBS on Aug. 30, 1993, the critically-acclaimed 'Late Show with David Letterman' has been honored with nine Emmy Awards."


RAINN WILSON: NBC is developing a spinoff of the U.S. sitcom "The Office," starring Rainn Wilson, television industry insiders told E! News.

The new show would be set on the Pennsylvania beet farm/bed and breakfast of Wilson's character Dwight Schrute.

Expected to premiere in early 2013, the sitcom could feature appearances by some of the other stars of "The Office," as well, E! said.

Deadline.com said Wilson is collaborating on the project with "Office" actor and executive producer Paul Lieberstein.


KIM KARDASHIAN: U.S. reality TV star Kim Kardashian is to appear in a multiple-episode arc on the comedy series "Drop Dead Diva," Lifetime said Thursday.

The show's fourth season is set to begin filming in February, with new episodes premiering this summer.

Kardashian will play Nikki, Fred's new love interest, who partners with his ex, Stacy, in a new business venture, a synopsis said. Ben Feldman plays Fred and April Bowlby plays Stacy.

"I'm ecstatic to welcome Kim to the 'Diva' family," the show's creator and executive producer Josh Berman said in a statement. "In discussing the role of Nikki with her, I'm blown away by her smarts, sense of humor, and passion. This series is all about reinvention and I'm so excited to see Kim 'reinvented' in the world of 'Drop Dead Diva.'"

Kardashian will also soon be seen in director Tyler Perry's film, "The Marriage Counselor." Her previous television acting credits include "CSI: NY" and "How I Met Your Mother."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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