Re: Painting a fireplace.
You can use standard latex wall paint everywhere but around the firebox where the brick will be the hottest.
A word of caution about what you see on all these "home improvement" shows, the camera is blind, meaning that it cannot see shadows, bumps, lumps, out of plumb, poor paint quality, poor workmanship, etc. If you saw them painting brick with a sponge, you can guarantee that while it might have looked great on tv, to the naked eye it looked like crap. Another problem with shows like this is that their designs are usually based on a fad, not an enduring style/design concept, which means you can actually damage your property value with some of the things they suggest.
It is always best to stick to classic designs and colors. Always keep the value of your home in the forefront of your mind when doing decorating or modifications. Also, your tastes may not be someone else's taste, and that is fine, as long as you are ok with time and cost of reverting back to the classics when it is time to sell.
I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!