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Tattle: 'Makeover' couple facing tough choices

OUR WITTY yet cynical nature aside, Tattle is a big softie. That "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" gets us nearly every week.

Madonna, in Buenos Aires, last Friday. She objected to British paper's using her wedding pix.
Madonna, in Buenos Aires, last Friday. She objected to British paper's using her wedding pix.Read moreAssociated Press

OUR WITTY yet cynical nature aside, Tattle is a big softie.

That "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" gets us nearly every week.

Who wouldn't feel a twinge of something when a family of 12, many of them without arms, legs or working organs, living in an the equivalent of a porta-john, gets to see a new home - their new home - that would make Bill Gates jealous.

It seems, however, that the mortgage crisis has reached even the creations of Ty Pennington - how about that new bedding line, by the way.

(Insert Sears ad here.)

Four years ago, 20 million TV viewers watched as Judy and Larry Vardon, a deaf couple, marveled at the renovations to their home that would help them better accommodate their blind, autistic son, Lance.

But now Judy and Larry worry that the home could face foreclosure. Weighed down by a mortgage payment that has almost doubled since the makeover and medical insurance that doesn't cover autism treatment for Lance, now 16, the Vardons are clinging to the hope that Larry will be able to keep his job working for . . . Chrysler.

Uh oh.

"I'm afraid I'm going to lose my house now," Judy, using sign language through an interpreter, told the Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens. "This house really belongs to Lance. This is his environment. He can't speak out for himself, and I hope we can save this house."

Unfortunately, after the makeover, the Vardons refinanced the mortgage, and their monthly payments have nearly doubled - from $1,200 to $2,300. They had debts of $20,000 for the boy's therapy alone.

"We didn't have bad spending habits," Judy said. "My husband got laid off for a time, and insurance wouldn't cover Lance's autism therapy and some other things like his vision and special dental work."

The Vardons remain grateful to "Makeover" and the volunteers who worked to make their house safer for Lance.

"We're a close family that loves each other," Judy said. "I feel that I was given this life to show others that you can face these challenges."

Courting Madonna

Madonna won a court battle yesterday against Britain's Mail on Sunday, which published pictures recently of her wedding to Guy Ritchie.

The one that occurred eight years ago.

Generally it's good to run the wedding photos before the divorce - you'd think with digital photgraphy they'd have gotten the photos back sooner.

The Material Middle-Aged-Woman claimed the tabloid breached her privacy and copyright by publishing the pix, which Madonna says were stolen from her by an interior designer.

Madonna is seeking damages of around $7.5 million.

Judge David Eady entered a judgment in her favor but deferred a decision on compensation until the new year.

Although photos in similar cases have led to much smaller judgments, Madonna lawyer Matthew Nicklin said the exclusive personal pictures were estimated to be worth that much.

The Mail scoffed at that notion.

"Their commercial value today is indicated by the very modest sum we and other publications paid for them. The figure suggested by Madonna's lawyers is simply fantasy," the company spokesman said.

Longtime spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg said Madonna will give any money she wins from the case to the charity Raising Malawi, which she set up to help children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic in the African nation.

Buy Paula's baubles

They might not go home with a recording contract, but Paula Abdul doesn't let any "American Idol" contestant leave empty-handed. She designs and distributes jewelry for the aspiring singers each season.

Beginning Saturday, Abdul's fans will be able to buy similar mementos from HSN.

"I pretty much wear my jewelry all the time now, but I end up giving it away," she says. "I'll take it off my wrist or neck and give it to someone who likes it."

Abdul has made jewelry since the first season of "Idol" in 2002.

Once she saw what the contestants had to endure from Simon Cowell, she wanted to do something nice for them, she says. "I wanted something the kids could touch and feel to remind themselves that their talent got them here."


* "Twilight" director Catherine

Hardwicke won't be back for "New Moon," the sequel.

Summit Entertainment, which released "Twilight," says the release of "New Moon" in late 2009 or early 2010 conflicts with Hardwicke's desire to actually have time to make the movie.

* After 20 years, Christie Hefner is

stepping down as Playboy's CEO.

Playboy has appointed media vet Jerome Kern, not the late composer, as interim chairman.

"Playboy Enterprises Inc. has literally and figuratively been my life and career for more than 30 years," Hefner said. "Last month marked my 20th anniversary as CEO; just as this country is embracing change in the form of new leadership, I have decided that now is the time to make changes in my own life as well."

Hello, Miss February!

* The Hollywood Reporter says Kirk

Ellis, who won an Emmy for writing HBO's "John Adams," will write "Escape," in which Katherine Heigl will star as Carolyn Jessop, who after years of a forced polygamous marriage escaped from the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints with her eight children.

You know, because all those Fundamentalist wives look like Katherine Heigl. *

Daily News wire services contributed to this report.

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