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Napster and music giant Bertelsmann will partner

Plus, Carson Daly and Tara Reid get engaged, the Backstreet Boys plan a surprise for their album cover, and more

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Tara Reid, Carson Daly
Daly: Gary Lewis/Camera Press/Retna

WEB NEWS Napster is getting in bed with the enemy. The beleaguered song swapping service and German entertainment giant Bertelsmann — one of the companies that have been enmeshed in a lawsuit against the online music trading post — announced today that Bertelsmann’s e- commerce group, BeCG, will merge with Napster to develop a membership based service that provides royalties to artists and their labels (i.e., a copyright friendly swapping program in addition to its freebie service). This means Bertelsmann will withdraw its suit against the alleged Internet pirates and make its entire music catalog — including the work of such pop luminaries as Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Santana, and The Dave Matthews Band — available to Napster’s more than 38 million users. Why would Bertelsmann do this? ”Person to person file sharing has captured the imagination of millions of people worldwide with its ease of use, global selection of content and community features,” said Bertelsmann’s chief exec Thomas Middelhoff in a press release today. ”Napster has pointed the way for a new direction for music distribution.” In other words, after lengthy discussion and research, they’ve arrived at the exciting conclusion that person to person file sharing can make them a whole lot of dough.

UNIONS OMG! ”TRL” may never be the same again. Host Carson Daly, 27, is getting hitched. The bride to be is Daly’s live in girlfriend actress Tara Reid, 24, whom he met on the set of an MTV show in Cancun last March. The couple will marry in Manhattan, though no date is set. Reid (currently starring in ”Dr. T and the Women”) is best known for her role as Vicky in ”American Pie.” Daly, of course, is best known for interviewing screaming teenagers about why they like Top 40 songs.

PHOTO OP The Backstreet Boys‘ mugs may sell flame broiled burgers, but they won’t be used to hawk their next album, ”Black & Blue” (due out Nov. 21). The band has decided not to use a photo of themselves on the cover of their latest effort. ”The album is titled ‘Black & Blue,’ and it’s just gonna be half black and half blue,” Brian Littrell told Launch. ”We decided not to go with the picture on the cover just to kinda differentiate ourselves once again from the normal picture on the front. You know, even alternative groups and rock groups now are doing their picture on the front.” Gosh, they’re not just cute…. They’re daring, too.

BLAME Relatives of the late INXS singer Michael Hutchence are saying that his relationship with Paula Yates drove him to suicide. Hutchence’s mother, Patricia Glassop, and his half sister, Tina, told a British talk show recently that they have written a book in which they show how Yates helped trigger Hutchence’s emotional downturn. ”He became terribly depressed and withdrawn,” Tina Hutchence said. ”For the last 2 1/2 years of his life [when he was living with Yates], he was a very unhappy person and he got worse and worse.”

CASTING The next ”Ripley” flick may have found a cast. John Malkovich and ”Mission Impossible: 2”’s Dougray Scott are in advanced negotiations to costar in ”Ripley’s Game,” based on the third novel in the Patricia Highsmith series…. Edward Norton has signed on to play Smoochy in Danny DeVito‘s children’s TV comedy, ”Death to Smoochy.” (Or should we call it ”Death to Career”?)… ”Lucky Numbers” may not have been lucky at the box office, but its costar Lisa Kudrow is still landing plum offers. The ”Friend” is in final negotiations to take the lead role in a ”fish out of water” comedy ”Marci X.” She’ll play a Jewish American Princess who’s forced to take control of a hip hop record label, Variety reports. Wow. We’re already laughing.

TV NEWS Fox is once again venturing into the murky territory of televised matrimony. On Nov. 2 the net will air an edifying two hour special called ”Surprise Wedding,” in which five male commitment phobes will be shocked with live proposals from their hopeful longterm girlfriends. The ladies, of course, will be decked out in full wedding regalia. How romantic.