AJ McLean gets engaged. Plus, news about Rosie O'Donnell, James Cameron, Bill O'Reilly, Ted Koppel, ''O Brother, Where Art Thou?'', Brandy, Angelina Jolie, Billy Bob Thornton, Albert Brooks, Michael Douglas, and others
AJ McLean, Sarah Martin
Credit: Martin and McLean: Tammie Arroyo/AFF/Retna

HITCHING POST AJ McLean became the third to take himself off the market, telling VH1 that he’s engaged to singer Sarah Martin. He said the couple hopes to be married in 2003, on the anniversary of the day they met. (He did not say what that day is, where the wedding will take place, or how he popped the question.) McLean, 24, met Martin in a karaoke bar before he went into rehab last summer, and he credits her with helping him regain his sobriety. ”She stopped drinking, too, while I was in rehab and has been very supportive,” he told USA Today last fall. Distraught fans can take comfort in the knowledge that Nick Carter and Howie Dorough are still single.

TUBE TALK In her first TV discussion of her sexuality, Rosie O’Donnell told Diane Sawyer that she came out of the closet because ”I don’t think America knows what a gay parent looks like… I am the gay parent.” In the interview, airing tonight on ABC’s ”,” O’Donnell says she was moved to act by the case of a gay male Florida couple trying to overturn the state’s ban on gay parents adopting kids. O’Donnell, who has adopted three kids with partner Kelli Carpenter and has considered moving to Florida once she ends her talk-show run this spring, said, ”I’m the kind of parent the state of Florida… thinks is unworthy, and it’s wrong.” She also said that is wrong in his stated opposition to gay adoption and invited him and his wife to spend a weekend at her home, saying, ”I’m sure his mind would change.” She said that, while her kids are well-adjusted, she would still hope that they would grow up to be straight, rather than ”go through the struggles of being gay in America.” She says of herself, however, that she wouldn’t want to be straight because ”I am who I am, and I’ve come to this point in my life, and I’m very happy.” And she denied that her often-expressed fondness for Tom Cruise was a dodge to mask her lesbianism, since her same-sex attraction doesn’t impair her ability to ”appreciate the aesthetic beauty of somebody of the other gender. He makes my heart beat, and I adore him, gay, straight, or somewhere in between. He is the [most] perfect man that ever walked the face of the Earth.”…

The struggling ”Dark Angel” will get a boost from series creator James Cameron, who will direct the season finale. ”I love our cast and am looking forward to working with them in the mud and the blood and the beer,” The Hollywood Reporter quotes Cameron as saying. ”It will be good discipline for me to direct one hour on a TV-size budget when my last project was three hours for $200 million. Wish me luck. This should be interesting.” The beer?

Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly is expanding his ”no-spin zone” to the radio. Starting May 8, he’ll have a daily two-hour talk show, syndicated by Westwood One, that will compete directly with that of fellow conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh. (In New York, the show will air on tape delay and compete with O’Reilly’s fellow FNC host Sean Hannity‘s radio show.) O’Reilly says he’d like to have a Robin Quivers-like female sidekick and hopes to try out several candidates for a week at a time — his wish list includes Hillary Clinton (who might be too busy, being a Senator and all) and CNN’s Arthel Neville. Of the competition with Limbaugh, he says, ”It’s a lot of fun in this business to go up against the best; we’re going to do our program and he’ll do what he does. It’s just healthy competition and all the pros know that. Nobody is brooding about it. I’ll mock him and he’ll mock me. It will be a very interesting scenario.”…

Not that Ted Koppel has said he’s leaving ABC — though he has grumbled that without a ”clear and unmistakable signal” of support from ABC after its aggressive attempt to recruit David Letterman to replace ”Nightline,” the network shouldn’t expect the ”Nightline” staff to stick around waiting for the ax to fall — but if he does leave, PBS wants him. ”There’s an obvious match between Ted’s work and what we stand for,” PBS president Pat Mitchell told USA Today, referring to public television’s high-minded news shows with Jim Lehrer and Bill Moyers and its documentary series ”Frontline.” Mitchell says she has talked to Koppel several times, starting March 1, the day the story broke that ABC was negotiationg with Letterman. So far, though, Koppel has apparently said nothing to her or anyone else about moving.

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