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PEACE TALKS?
Would-be dads Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead may unite to raise Anna Nicole Smith's baby

Could Dannielynn end up with two daddies? Although Howard K. Stern continues to publicly insist he is the father of Anna Nicole Smith's 6-month-old daughter, he may be considering a compromise with photographer Larry Birkhead, who also claims paternity. "They really, truly want what's best for Dannielynn Hope, and what's best is that she's with her biological father," says Stern pal and TrimSpa CEO Alex Goen. The twist they've discussed? "That she have a nonbiological father figure in her life who would also have the opportunity to love her." But a court would have to approve their arrangement. Additionally, a full-scale cease-fire between the two seems unlikely, as Birkhead continues to press his case in court. So does, for that matter, Smith's estranged mother, Virgie Arthur, who filed her own petition in the Bahamas for custody of Dannielynn. (A judge there let Stern keep the child but set March 16 to hear Arthur's argument.) She has also challenged last week's Florida ruling which cleared the way for Smith, who died on Feb. 8, to finally be laid to rest in the Bahamas; that hearing, in which Arthur seeks the right to bury her daughter in Texas, is scheduled for Feb. 28.

The only true moment of peace last week? On Feb. 21 Smith's body—in a silver sequined dress—was placed in an open casket at the Broward County, Fla., medical examiner's office. One by one, Stern, Birkhead and Arthur said their goodbyes. Said medical examiner Joshua Perper, who helped arrange the viewing: "It made this difficult experience a little easier."

KATE & OWEN GO PUBLIC

Kate Hudson and Owen Wilson's courtship is amping up Down Under, where sweet PDAs are slowly lifting the veil on the once camera-shy couple. "They're in a relationship," says a friend of both. "They're in a happy place." That much seemed certain on Feb. 21, when Hudson, 27—who split from husband of nearly six years Chris Robinson last August—gave Wilson, 38, a playful pat on the backside as they strolled to Santos Health Foods in Byron Bay. ("They're both really healthy people," says the friend. "They eat well and love being outside.") Love was also in the air on the set of Hudson's Fool's Gold Feb. 22, when they shared jokes and kisses poolside between takes. "They're having fun," says the pal. "And they really care for each other."

ANGELINA AT WORK

While the Hollywood community partied on Oscar night, Angelina Jolie was noticeably absent. Was she cuddling with Brad Pitt at home in New Orleans, bowl of popcorn at the ready? Nope: On Feb. 25 the actress, 31, landed in the African nation of Chad, where she's visiting refugee camps near the Sudanese border. (Jolie was not allowed into Sudan's war-torn Darfur region because of the violence.) "The goal of Angelina's visit is to urge governments to more forcefully intervene," says Trevor Neilson, her political adviser. "The situation is much worse than the last time she was there." Meanwhile, Jolie's profile in the world of international diplomacy continues to rise. Members of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations recently approved Jolie's nomination to join the think tank that includes Condoleezza Rice and Henry Kissinger. Says Neilson: "Few people are more committed to these issues than she is."

BREE'S BABIES

Desperate? Not quite. But for Marcia Cross, who gave birth to twins Feb. 20 after more than a month of doctor-ordered bed rest, the newcomers arrived just in time. Says a friend: "By the end, she was definitely tired of being in bed!" And eager to welcome daughters Savannah and Eden, the first children for the Desperate Housewives star, 44, and her stockbroker husband of eight months, Tom Mahoney, 49. "The family is home, and it's all mellow and happy there," says the pal. Cross—who filmed scenes from her bedroom while pregnant—plans to return to her dysfunctional family on Wisteria Lane for the show's finale. For now she's content to revel in maternal bliss. And, fortunately, she's not using Bree, her überuptight character, as a role model. "She'll be an easygoing mom," Housewives costar Brenda Strong tells Scoop. "I don't see her stressing at all."

Is Usher off the market?

The answer, it seems, is a resounding "Yeah." At the Feb. 19 NAACP Theatre Awards in Beverly Hills, the R&B superstar, 28, picked up the spirit award—then, in his acceptance speech, referred to stylist girlfriend Tameka Foster as his fiancée (she was also sporting a sizable diamond at the event). Usher's rep had no comment, but a close source confirms the betrothal.

HIGH JINKS WITH HUGH

Another celeb run-in with the law? Not this time. At the Amsterdam premiere of Hugh Grant's romantic comedy Music and Lyrics on Feb. 23, prankster Cielke Sijben coaxed Grant over for a photo op, then handcuffed herself to the star as part of a stunt for a Dutch Web site. Cops severed the chain after 10 minutes, but Sijben could still face criminal charges. Grant, for his part, stayed calm and continued signing autographs, though he did tell the woman, "I am trying to be with my fans, and you are pissing me off." Still, Sijben considers herself lucky. "He's a charming guy," she tells Scoop. "What woman doesn't want to be handcuffed to Hugh Grant?"

REALITY ROUNDUP

THE NEED FOR SPEED

Unlike his fellow Dancing with the Stars contestants, speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno put paso doble practice on hold last weekend. With good reason: The five-time Olympic medalist captured his eighth short track championship in Cleveland on Feb. 25. "I won every single race I competed in," the 24-year-old told Scoop after the event. "I feel great." But dance practice—with his pro partner 18-year-old Julianne Hough—will have to take a back seat until after the world championships wrap up in Milan March 11. "Julianne will go to Italy with me," he says. "We'll fit it in. We have to." Just don't expect him to look rusty when the March 19 premiere rolls around. "I'm a competitor," he says. "I'm a different person when I step on the ice ... or onto the dance floor." Besides, he has a secret weapon: "The soul patch is good luck!"

SCANDAL FLASHBACK!

Remember Sara Evans's messy divorce from last season's Dancing It's still messy. In court papers filed Feb. 23, the country star alleges that estranged husband Craig Schelske refuses to set a mediation date unless she fires her lawyer, agrees to joint custody of their three kids and issues a public apology. (In her October divorce filing, she accused him of having an affair with the nanny.) Schelske fired back in his own filing, denying making any "demands or threats."

22,819 VOTES

SIMON COWELL:
67% TOUGH AS NAILS—BUT GOOD AS EVER
33% TOO MEAN! TONE IT DOWN

WANNABE IDOL'S PICTURE PROB

The Idol contestant who made the most headlines last week not for his or her singing? That would be Antonella Barba, 20, who stars in a dozen or so racy (and racier) images now circulating on the Web. The tamer shots show her posing provocatively in a wet shirt and not much else. Some of the photos, however, show a young woman identified as Barba performing a sex act. But Barba's best friend Amanda Coluccio says those photos "are not Antonella. It's not the same nose. And there are tips on that girl's nails. Antonella's never gotten tips." The other pix? "Those were meant for her boyfriend ... as a gift. She thinks someone went in her computer at Catholic University and took them." A FOX rep says they do not comment on contestants.

Q + A

HIGH ON LIFE
Man stealer? Pot dealer? Mary-Louise Parker makes naughty look oh so nice

As a back-stabbing best friend in Oxygen's The Robber Bride (premiering March 3), Mary-Louise Parker oozes ruthless deception. Off-camera, the Weeds star is anything but sinister, doting on son William, 3, and cozying up with Grey's Anatomy's Jeffrey Dean Morgan She talked to Scoop:

In The Robber Bride, you steal one friend's man and another's money. What's up with covetous women?
I've never understood that, but it's something I can spot immediately. There's that slow up and down [look] when they meet you. Sometimes those women are very successful—certainly in my business!

Ever been betrayed by a friend
One recently lost my son's teddy bear. At this point in my life that's probably the most evil thing you could do to me. He's had it since birth! We found it though, shoved in with some sheets and sent to the cleaners.

You resume shooting your drug dealer role on Showtime's Weeds in April—is it hard being a working single mom
No, because I spend a lot of time not working. I take William to French class and ...

Attendez! He takes French
He speaks a little. He can count to seven and say, "May I please have two cookies?"

Next up is The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Must be fun, playing Brad Pitt's wife
He was quite nice—really smart and funny. [His kids] are adorable and [Angelina] is beautiful. I have a lot of admiration for her.

Still dating Jeffrey Dean Morgan
I am. It's going great! The New York Post said we were fighting at Nobu on [Valentine's Day], but I'm certainly not dumb enough to fight at a [high profile] restaurant like Nobu. We had a nice dinner, and William made cards for everyone.

  • Contributors:
  • SCOOP CONTRIBUTORS Rennie Dyball,
  • Molly Lopez,
  • Ryan Pienciak,
  • Kate Stroup,
  • Jeff Truesdell,
  • Ashley Williams,
  • Jennifer Wren,
  • Olivia Bishop,
  • Paul Chi,
  • Alexis Chiu,
  • Annette Dasey,
  • Michelle Diament,
  • Jessica Disch,
  • Eileen Finan,
  • Jen Garcia,
  • Alison Singh Gee,
  • Ma.