Depending on the headline,

Michael Jackson

is

close to death

,

fighting for his life

and/or

ill and dying

.

The dire prognosis comes from investigative reporter

Ian Halperin

, author of

Shut Up and Smile: Supermodels and the Dark Side

, who tells In Touch mag that the former King of Pop suffers from the potentially fatal condition, alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency.

"He needs a lung transplant but may be too weak to go through with it," says I.H. "He also has emphysema and chronic gastrointestinal bleeding, which his doctors have had a lot of trouble stopping. It's the bleeding that. . .could kill him." As if that weren't horrible enough, I.H. says Michael, 50, "can barely speak" and is virtually blind in his left eye.

A rep for MJ,

Tohme Tohme

, released a statement last night saying the "wild allegations concerning Mr. Jackson's health are a total fabrication. Mr. Jackson is in fine health," and finalizing plans for a world tour and appearances.

granted Spider-Gal

Kirsten Dunst

's request for a restraining order against a man the actress says has trespassed at her home.

Christopher R. Smith

, 25, must stay away from Dunst, her assistant, and any location where they work.

Littrell reveals diagnosis

Backstreet Boys singer

Brian Littrell

, 33, has revealed that his 6-year-old son,

Baylee

, who was hospitalized overnight on Friday, suffers from atypical Kawasaki disease, which "causes inflammation in the coronary arteries," the singer says on his Web site. (

.)

Brian L. says he and his wife,

Leighanne

, 39, appreciate prayers, e-mails and phone calls from their fans. He writes that Baylee will be "closely monitored for the next 6-8 weeks" to see if the treatment he received this weekend was effective.

Ronson's brief hospital stay

Samantha Ronson

, a DJ best known for her friendship (relationship?) with

Lindsay Lohan

, spent about 2 minutes at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A. after a gig with

Adam 12

and

Benji Madden

on Saturday night. Sam, who was apparently diagnosed as tired, thanked her fans on Sunday, writing on her MySpace blog that she "was just pretty exhausted from traveling and working too much to buy Hanukkah gifts and my Jewish mother was worried about me."

LiLo wasn't at the hospital with her girl - she had left the club before Sam finished her set.

Maria Bello signs with HBO

Norristown, Pa.-born goddess

Maria Bello

, who truly came into her own in

David Cronenberg

's

A History of Violence

, has signed to develop and star in a new series for HBO, Variety reports. Written by

The Shield

's

Gary Lennon

, the one-hour drama will feature Bello as a recently widowed mother of three who is forced into a life of crime to make ends meet. (Who isn't these days?)

Bello fans will remember that the actress did a two-season stint on

ER

in the '90s.

Ma Seacrest: Ryan needs a girl!

Ryan Seacrest

's mother,

Connie Seacrest

, tells Momlogic.com that she wishes her boy (described by the Web site as a "media mogul") had "more time to date. That would be wonderful for him - and we'd stand a better chance for him to have a relationship."

Asked to share a surprising fact about Ryan's childhood, Ma, who is the producer of NBC's

Momma's Boys

, said, "He likes to play around in the kitchen. If I'm cooking, he tries to flip it or add something. When he was young, he learned how to make a Caesar salad from scratch."

K-Fed's volleyball star

Thanks to USAToday.com, we finally have a line on

Kevin Federline

's love life.

Britney Spears

' ex is apparently dating former college volleyball star Victoria Prince, 26, who is almost 6 feet tall.

Hasselhoff's Arizona connection

Also from USAToday.com, TV star, singer and sex symbol

David Hasselhoff

sang the national anthem Saturday at the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl, featuring Arizona and Brigham Young University, in Las Vegas. The Hoff's daughter,

Taylor-Ann Hasselhoff

, attends Arizona.

Is Guy a fortune hunter?

Seriously! Is

Guy Ritchie

, who, like, tripled his net worth with the reported $70 mil divorce settlement he wheedled out of

Madonna

, is dating - a millionaire heiress.

So says People.com and London's Telegraph. They say that the

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

director squired 33-year-old socialite

Jemima Khan

, daughter of

Lady Annabel Goldsmith

and the late financier

Sir James Goldsmith

, to a swank London dinner party earlier this month. (Their hostess? Media magnate

Rupert Murdoch

's daughter,

Elisabeth Murdoch

.)

Is Madonna two-timing A-Rod?

Just weeks after her alleged affair with

Alex Rodriguez

had gossipers gasping for air,

Madonna

has been spotted carrying on with a Brazilian model named

Jesus Luz

. That's according to the New York Post and London's the Sun, which says that from the nanosecond they met on a photo shoot in Rio de Janeiro, the pair "struggled to keep their hands off each other." The tabloids point out that this is a no-obligation fling.

A spat between film giants

British film maestro

Ridley Scott

, who took

Russell Crowe

to dizzying heights of cinematic glory with

Gladiator

,

A Good Year

, and

American Gangster

(well, maybe not

A Good Year

), is reportedly sick of the Aussie actor's behavior on the set of their new flick, a revisionist take on Robin Hood called

Nottingham

. The New York Post says Crowe is trying to replace Scott as director because the Brit won't be cowed by Crowe's temper tantrums. "Ridley is the only one who is willing to stand up to Russell and tell him he's too fat and that he can't show up four hours late to the set," says an anon source. The actor's reps tell the Post there is no on-set discord.

Got mercury? Me too!

Fisher Stevens

of

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

fame tells the New York Post that

Jeremy Piven

isn't the only thesp suffering from seafood-induced mercury poisoning.

Stevens says he became mercury-critical while producing

The Cove

, a docu about about the slaughter of mercury-loaded dolphins in the Far East. Even though he was making a film exposing the mercury-loaded marine wildlife, he ate fish four or five times a week.

Smart.

"I started feeling really sluggish and had no energy," Stevens tells the Post.

This column contains information from Inquirer wire services.

Contact "SideShow" at sideshow@phillynews.com.