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Keep it real this Halloween

Michael Jackson. Amy Winehouse. Kate Gosselin. And Bernie Madoff. We're definitely keeping it real this Halloween.

Costume suppliers predict this year's hot costumes will come from reality television, tabloid celebs and high-profile deaths.

The National Retail Federation picks princesses, witches and Spider-Man as popular costumes for children. Vampires, clowns and pirates were top choices on the federation's adult costume list, while the list from retail chain Spirit Halloween includes Jackson, Gosselin, Britney Spears and Sarah Palin.

"Inspiration for Halloween costumes comes from the media, the movies, current events and pop culture," said Steven Silverstein, CEO and president of Spirit Halloween. "This year vampires are everywhere. You will see lots of tributes to Michael Jackson, from 'Thriller' to sequined gloves. And you may even see a Mr. Ponzi mask."

Here's a breakdown on what's hot for various categories.

ADULT COSTUMES

Spirit Halloween is touting its Gosselin wig (attach eight babies to your hip), a Palin get-up with glasses and wig, Lady Gaga with a long platinum-blond wig and a Bernie Madoff-like mask.

Party supply chain iParty is selling Winehouse, in the form of a wig, tattoo and rehab form, and slugger Manny Ramirez, with dreadlocks and a baseball hat.

But Silverstein predicts the Michael Jackson costume - with a sequined glove, red leather jacket and fedora - is going to be a strong seller, as people pay tribute to the superstar who died in June.

"He is an icon, and I think this is sort of the Elvis Presley of our lifetime, of our generation," Silverstein said. "He has stirred so much emotion."

Classic costumes, such as a French maid, nurse, ghost and cat continue to be top choices on the National Retail Federation's list; iParty has "Star Trek" characters, flappers, hippies and vampires.

GIRLS

Disney princess costumes are all the rage again this year.

The new Tiana Deluxe Costume, an exact replica of what Princess Tiana wears in a key moment in the upcoming film "The Princess and the Frog," is expected to be a best-seller, according to Molly Adams, vice president and general manager for Disney Stores North America. The film, featuring both Disney's newest young royal in more than 10 years and its first black princess, comes out on Dec. 11.

Toys R Us is seeing a similar trend. "It all tends to be really fun and girly dress-up costumes that are selling for girls," said chief merchandising officer Karen Dodge, ticking off a list that includes Disney princesses, Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz" and friendly witches.

BOYS

Boys follow the blockbuster movies more than girls, said Dodge, and "Transformers" and "G.I. Joe" costumes are hot this year. She said Toys R Us is also seeing an uptick in Buzz Lightyear and Woody costumes in part because of the reintroduction of "Toy Story 1" and "Toy Story 2." "Toy Story 3" is scheduled to come out next year.

Also popular this year are evergreen costumes such as SpongeBob SquarePants and "Star Wars" characters, she said.

Batman, an athlete and a ninja are top costumes on the National Retail Federation's popular kids' costume list.

- Megan K. Scott,

The Associated Press

PET COSTUMES

Animal lovers are increasingly buying costumes for their pets.

"Because animals are already so cute on their own, even the most simple costume idea can be the biggest hit," Betsy Saul of Petfinder.com said in an e-mail.

According to Yahoo!, the top dog costume searches in the past month were Yoda, a Bumblebee and a horse. Batman and Super Dog were on iParty's list, and top pet costumes on BuyCostumes.com were a Dog Bee, a Prisoner Dog and a pirate.

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