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By United Press International   |   Feb. 1, 2012 at 4:00 AM

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

PAULA ABDUL: Paula Abdul confirmed Tuesday she has been fired from the American version of the British talent competition series "The X Factor."

"Yes, it's true; I won't be returning to 'The X Factor' next season," Abdul said in a statement issued to People.com.

"I've learned through my longevity in this industry that business decisions often times override personal considerations," she said. "Simon [Cowell] and I, along with Fox and Freemantle, have been communicating about this for a while now, and I have absolute understanding of the situation."

Fox earlier confirmed "X Factor" host Steve Jones and judge Nicole Scherzinger won't be back for the U.S. show's sophomore season.

Cowell, who previously worked with Abdul on "American Idol," is a producer on "X Factor" and also serves as a judge along with music producer L.A. Reid. Cowell confirmed the firings but didn't give a reason for them.

"I want to say a massive thank you to Paula, Nicole and Steve for being part of 'The X Factor' last year," People.com quoted Cowell as saying in a statement Tuesday. "You do develop friendships with the people you work with and Paula, in particular, is a very close friend and I expect to be working with her on another project in the near future."

The Hollywood Reporter said the recent casting decisions were made at a secret meeting in England intended to work out a strategy to improve the show's ratings.

"American Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe remarked on Abdul's ousting via Twitter.

"Shocked to see Simon has fired Paula Abdul, Nicole and Steve from the X-Factor," Lythgoe tweeted.


REBA McENTIRE: Country music star Reba McEntire went online Tuesday to ice a rumor claiming she had fallen off a mountain in Austria and died.

"There is a rumor going around that I died after falling off a mountain in Austria yesterday while shooting a movie," the Grammy Award winner said via Twitter. "While I would love to be shooting a movie in Austria, I definitely did not fall off a mountain! Nor am I dead! I am alive and kicking!!!"

McEntire and Blake Shelton are to serve as co-hosts of the ACM Award show in Las Vegas April 1.


SOFIA VERGARA: Sofia Vergara, one of the stars of the U.S. sitcom "Modern Family," topped AskMen's 11th annual Most Desirable Woman poll.

More than 1 million votes were cast internationally for the 2012 poll, the Web site said.

"I am so honored to be AskMen's most desired woman this year. A big thank you to all the men who desire me," Vergara said in a statement Tuesday.

"With more than a third of the women on this year's list being first-time honorees, it is clear that men are intrigued by women who are new on the scene," said James Bassil, editor in chief of AskMen. "The 2012 Top 99 Most Desirable Women are an eclectic group -- which explains the wide range in what today's man finds appealing."

Coming in at No. 2 on the Most Desirable list is Kate Upton, followed by Rooney Mara at No. 3, Miranda Kerr at No. 4, Nicki Minaj at No. 5, Emma Stone at No. 6, Scarlett Johansson at No. 7, Kim Kardashian at No. 8, Rihanna at No. 9 and Candice Swanepoel at No. 10.


ADELE: British singer Adele will make her return to the live stage at the 54th annual Grammy Awards show in Los Angeles, the Recording Academy said Tuesday.

This will be her first time performing live in nearly five months. She was forced to cancel a sold-out U.S. concert tour to undergo surgery on her vocal cords last year.

"I'm immensely proud to have been asked to perform at this year's Grammy Awards," Adele said in a statement. "It's an absolute honor to be included in such a night, and for it to be my first performance in months is very exciting and of course nerve-racking, but what a way to get back into it all."

The 23-year-old recording artist has previously won two Grammy Awards. She is up for six this year.

LL Cool J will serve as host of the Grammy Awards show Feb. 12 at the Staples Center. It is to air on CBS.

© 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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