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Vanessa Hudgens’ gets ever closer to Josh Hutcherson

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

As usual, there’s a lot of romance news today — including the increasingly serious romance between Vanessa Hudgens and Josh Hutcherson.

The couple, who were seen looking very cozy at the Coachella Valley Music festival near Palm Springs, Calif., last weekend, reportedly have “made a special commitment to each other,” a close friend of Hudgens said Tuesday.

“Vanessa is head-over-heels crazy for him,” said the source, who indicated that the actress — currently between projects — is planning on camping out in North Carolina this summer as Hutcherson films “The Hunger Games” there with Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth.

† Two couples who have gone to extreme lengths to deny or dodge questions regarding their relationships have become a little less coy. “Twilight” lovebirds Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have become less careful about showing affection in public.

Ditto for Susan Sarandon and her much-younger beau Jonathan Bricklin — whom she has long insisted is merely her non-romantic friend and business partner in the duo’s New York-based SPiN Ping-Pong biz.

DEMI DONE: As expected, Demi Lovato has decided not to return to her Disney show, “Sonny With a Chance.” Sources close to the actress and singer say Lovato made that decision near the end of her treatment for eating and emotional disorders at the Timberline Knolls rehab facility in suburban Lemont.

“That show was a big cause of the pressures that made Demi snap,” said a close associate Tuesday.

“It made sense for me to go ahead and leave the show to focus on my music,” Lovato told “I don’t think going back to ‘Sonny’ would be healthy for my recovery. Being in front of a camera would make me nervous.”

Disney is supporting Lovato’s decision and will continue to record her music under its Hollywood Records label.

“Sonny With a Chance” now will be reworked as “So Random!,” debuting on the Disney Channel in June.

GOWN GAB: While Buckingham Palace is continuing to keep mum about Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, the best-educated guess — based on comments murmured in London’s Mayfair salons — has Sophie Cranston as the lucky designer tapped by Prince William’s bride.

Cranston is known as a favorite of “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson and fashion icon Jerry Hall.

Of course, we’ll all know if this is true when Kate exits her limo at Westminster Abbey on April 29.

SPECIAL TIMES: As always, the guests at the annual Step­pen­wolf Theatre gala can bid on some pretty amazing live auction prizes, including a New York trip that includes a set visit to “The Good Wife” and lunch with actor Josh Charles and Steppenwolf co-founder Terry Kinney, or joining Gary Sinise in luxury seats for a Cubs game.

† Speaking of Steppenwolf co-founder and “CSI: New York” star Sinise, he also will jam with his Lt. Dan Band on May 6 at Joe’s on Weed, the same weekend he’s here for the May 7 Steppenwolf fete.

NEW ‘HOUSEWIVES’: Bravo passed on doing a “Real Housewives of Chicago,” believing Our Town’s ladies would seem boring compared to their earlier shows in New York, New Jersey, Orange County and Atlanta.

That won’t be a problem with the upcoming “Real Housewives of Las Vegas.” As my pal Norm Clarke of the Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported, the show will include a female impersonator who does a great Joan Rivers — plus an exotic dancer who has long lived with both her husband and his girlfriend.

Now that gives new meaning to “Three’s Company”!

SIGHT SEEN: TV judge Greg Mathis had a ball singing “Sweet Home Chicago” — getting the crowd all jazzed up when they spied him on the Jumbotron at the Bulls-Pacers game Monday night. … Actor and producer Peter Billingsley was back in town — dining at Carmine’s, and then hooking up with his “Four Christmases” and “The Break-Up” star and buddy Vince Vaughn at Public House, where they later were joined by the Bears’ Greg Olsen. … The great Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly had a group of pals in stitches while dining Monday at the new Hoyt’s in Hotel 71 on East Wacker.

Bill Zwecker reports regularly on “Good Day Chicago” and “Fox Chicago News at 9” on WFLD-Channel 32.

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