A cheaper chopper can still make a chopper chappie chipper. That's the moral of this story. Say we're in an economic slump. Say you usually sink $100K into a little birthday giftie for your snookums, your lambie pot, your sugar drawers. How much, if you are

Angelina Jolie

, do you spend in this belt-tightener of a year? And what to get him? He being

Brad Pitt

? And crazy for motorcycles?

Answer: You get him another chopper! A cheaper chopper! In Touch says Jolie's 45th birthday present to Pitt will be a Ducati Monster 1100S titanium. "It's a surprise," In Touch tells the world. (Why did she tell them?) Said chopper is a cut-rate $12,000. Last year, she spent $100,000 on his 44th b-day gift, a custom-built Ducati Desmosedici RR with handlebars engraved with "My Sweetheart The Drunk," a reference to an album by Pitt's favorite singer (and one of ours!), Jeff Buckley.

Surprise Leno signing at NBC

At an L.A. news conference today, NBC will announce it has signed Jay Leno to a 10 p.m. prime-time show five nights a week. The format is expected to be much like that of the

Tonight Show

Leno has hosted since 1993. Trying hard to keep the late-night ratings king somehow, according to the New York Times, NBC apparently has beaten out other Leno suitors such as ABC, Fox and Sony Television.

The new show may debut in May, when Conan O'Brien takes over the Tonight Show. But the 10 p.m. Leno show will be unprecedented. According to the Times, no network ever has run the same show in the same prime-time slot five nights a week, a practice common in daytime TV.

Going once, going twice, sold

Odd, but today that $12,000 figure arises in two separate celeb stories. The

Brangelina

amount was for a vehicle, a mere contraption of chrome and rubber. This

second

$12,000 would bring you -

Anne Hathaway

herself!

Hmmm . . . chopper? . . . Anne? . . . Chopper? . . . Anne? Is there even a choice here?

The setting was the Cracked X-mas Fundraiser at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. Proceeds benefit the Trevor Project, a crisis helpline for LGBT youth. Hathaway decided to auction off an evening with herself. According to People mag, she Anne-ounced that the date would include "drinks somewhere fabulous" and that she would "basically get you totally . . . " and then she said a word rhyming with Britlaced. Which is not a word.

Three lucky bidders raised their limbs to buy a night with Hathaway and drinks.

"I'm not usually very forward," said Anne, the subject of Oscar whispers for her work in Rachel Getting Married, "but I thought if there was ever a crowd for me to do something like this, this is my crowd."

That is any crowd, in our book. Three fans paid for Anne over ice. Let's get this straight: She has to go out and get britlaced three times? That's what we call philanthropy. Anne of a thousand auctions!

Any old new-year show will do

Ring out the old and ring in the old show with new faces to ring in the new! Got that? ABC and

Dick Clark

Productions announced yesterday that its New Year's party show,

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2009

, hosted by Clark and Seacrest, will include live performances by the

Jonas Brothers

, country hottie

Taylor Swift

, and, for us staggering oldsters,

Lionel Richie

. From time to time, the show will lurch over to Hollyweird, for show-ups by

Natasha Bedingfield

,

Fall Out Boy

,

Jesse McCartney

,

Ne-Yo

,

Pussycat Dolls

,

Solange

, and

Robin Thicke

. Roving Times Square reporter will be another country hottie,

Kellie Pickler

. The wingding starts at 10 p.m., breaks for local news at 11, and returns for countdown and hoedown.

A new model in more ways than one

Nigel Barker

, big-time model and now judge on that catfest

America's Next Top Model

, became a daddy on Sunday morning. That means his wife, model

Christen Chin Barker

, has become a mom. (Hey - they're a model couple!) Welcome to the world, little

Jasmine Barker

! Usmagazine.com made the announcement, once exclusive, but now we have it. Jasmine weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces. Mother model and daughter model are doing well. Strangely, mom and dad model originally thought baby model was going to be a boy. (They already have a son,

Jack

, 2.) But a second "reading" set them straight. When asked whether

Tyra Banks

(host of

America's Next Top Model

) will be godmother, Barker said, "I think she will be, and

Miss J

will be a fairy godmother." (Miss J is a transvestite who often coaches catwalk technique on the show.)

Kat kompels Broadway to love her

According to

Ted Casablanca

in his E! Online blog "The Awful Truth,"

Katie Holmes

is officially Broadway box-office gold. She has been acting in

Arthur Miller

's classic drama

All My Sons

at the Schoenfeld Theatre since mid-October. Advance sales were not boffísimo, but producers announced yesterday that

Sons

has already made back its $3.25 million initial investment. That, as they say on Broadway, is fast.

Now the snarkfest begins. Some contend it can't be Kat but other castmates who are packing the house - John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest. Face it, folks: Kat has shown she can deal, in the toughest theater town in history. As one anon cast member says, this is a time when "everything is closing around her." In two months, an Arthur Miller play in the black on Broadway? Kat can draw them, no mistake.

Good awards for good writing

Yesterday the Writers Guild of America announced nominations for the WGA awards, to be handed out Feb. 7 in N.Y.C. and L.A. The shows getting the most noms were three very well-written ones: NBC's

30 Rock

, AMC's

Breaking Bad

, and Fox's

The Simpsons

. Also included were drama nominations for Showtime's

Dexter

, NBC's

Friday Night Lights

, ABC's

Lost

, AMC's

Mad Men

, and HBO's

The Wire

.

Breaking Bad

was nom'ed for new series, and also twice for best single drama episode.

30 Rock

was nom'ed thrice in the best single comedy episode category.

The Simpsons

was nom'ed four times for animation.

This column contains information from Inquirer wire services. Contact "SideShow" at sideshow@phillynews.com.