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Shootout at the OK! Corral

Jan. 30 2008, Published 8:04 a.m. ET

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Gossip industry insiders say the recent slurs on the sanctity of the Simpson-Lachey marriage are retaliation for the starlet's ill-advised exclusive contract with OK! magazine.

The $200,000, 2-year devil deal, set up in August by her gossip-column feeding stage dad, Joe Simpson, reportedly locked the Dukes of Hazard starlet into a six-cover commitment, and prohibited her from giving other tabs feature-worthy access--making a lot of cheesecake-hungry editors angry.

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Us Weekly, a formerly pro-Jessica rag and repository of Joe-Simpson-planted items, went for the jugular with this week's "SPLIT!" cover story, which pins blame for the couple's troubles solely on Jessica. The roundly denied "scoop" was far from exclusive, however--Life & Style carries essentially the same story, but with better detail, including an anecdote about Simpson breaking down in tears on an American Airlines flight post-breakup.

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"Us used to have a spectacular relationship with Jessica, right down to having their fashion editor style her for major events and photographing the whole process," says an editor at one of the spurned weeklies. "She also had a great deal with People, who put her birthday party on their cover with all sorts of flattering photos inside. When Joe sold her out to OK!, he gave up her chance to work with People, Us or anyone else and now she's paying for it."

Adding insult to injury, "it was a really stupid business decision on Joe's part because while OK!'s spending millions for shots of Britney's baby, all Jessica got was a cover that didn't sell, two-hundred grand, and a lot of payback," the editor sniped. "She's become a tabloid piñata!"

Simpson's rep could not be reached for comment.

Previously: Jessica Simpson's Daddy Issues.

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