PARTY GIRL

Jennifer Aniston, a week before her 37th birthday, celebrates with a high-rolling trip to Vegas—and with Vince Vaughn by her side

If momentum holds, Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn could just turn out to be the Fun Couple of 2006. They spent the weekend of Feb. 3 laughing, drinking, gambling and shopping. The pair perched in a penthouse at THE Hotel in Las Vegas; Vaughn, 35, was in town to host his Wild West Comedy Show. He opened the Friday night show with an apology: He had a bad cold. But that didn't stop him and Aniston from dropping in at 2 a.m. to play $500-a-hand blackjack in the Crystal Room, an exclusive high-roller area, surrounded by bodyguards. "They barely noticed that anyone else was around," says a hotel employee. "By the looks of it, Jennifer is new at high-stakes 21. But Vince was a very patient teacher." The pair called it a night at 5 a.m., resurfacing the next afternoon for more gambling and shopping. That night Aniston and Vaughn had tuna and lobster curry at the hotel's MIX restaurant and stayed up late again at the blackjack and roulette tables. On Sunday afternoon the couple headed back to L.A., where Aniston plans to celebrate her birthday with friends the weekend of Feb. 11.

WHAT'S LEFT OF NICK

Is Nick Lachey's new single about his relationship with soon-to-be-ex-wife Jessica Simpson? In "What's Left of Me," Lachey, accompanied by swelling strings, sings, "I watch my life pass me by in a rearview mirror ... Stuck in the shadow of my mistakes ... Now we're broken and I'm fading ... Take what's left of this man, make me whole again." Lachey, 32, told Teen People, "Obviously, people will listen to it and draw their own conclusions. It's a fairly emotional song." He said he wrote it in November, the month that he and Simpson announced they were splitting after three years of marriage.

But on Feb. 3, the night he released the single on AOL, Lachey seemed to be adjusting well to his solo status. Arriving at L.A. hot spot Koi at 9:40 p.m., Lachey joined a large table of friends, including A.J. DiScala, and "was laughing, having a great time," an observer tells Scoop. "He was surrounded by girls." The party moved on to the W Hotel, where Lachey stuck close to a petite brunette all night—that is, when he wasn't wrestling with pals on the bed-like couches in the lounge. When the bar closed at 2 a.m., Lachey and his entourage headed upstairs for a private party. Meanwhile, while Lachey was at Koi, Simpson was about a mile down the road, dining with three friends at The Lodge before making a brief stop at club LAX. And how is Lachey holding up now? On Feb. 7 he joined Ryan Seacrest on his morning talk show on KIIS-FM. "Life is life and emotions are emotions," he said. "But the hardest part of this breakup is the media coverage."

Sean Takes A Ride

Yes, that's Britney Spears on Feb. 6 with 4-month-old son Sean Preston in her lap, cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. And yes, it is against California law to allow a baby to ride in a vehicle while unsecured in a proper car seat.

Spears, 24, a source says, was holding her son while her Lincoln Navigator was parked. The singer contends she was forced to speed away with him in her lap to escape a "frightful" throng of paparazzi. "I instinctively took measures to get my baby and me out of harm's way," Spears says. "I love my child and would do anything to protect him." An L.A. County Sheriff's deputy visited Spears's home later that day, but as of press time the pop star had not received a ticket.

Two Weddings for J.Lo

Why did filming halt on a wedding scene (above) in Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony's movie El Cantante in Puerto Rico late last month? Published reports claim that a real-life bride and groom at a nearby hotel were outraged that the filming was interrupting their big day. Not so, say crew members; shooting was stopped due to rain. But Lopez and Anthony did get involved—a concierge tells Scoop that the couple posed for pictures with bride Juliana Rosales and groom Dennis Gonzalez.

A RAP VIDEO SHOOT TURNS VIOLENT

Busta Rhymes may have been trying to halt an argument when gunfire erupted outside his video shoot, filming in Brooklyn Feb. 5, killing his bodyguard. A police source said that they were investigating a possible dispute involving rapper Tony Yayo and producer Swizz Beatz. Rashaun Hall, online editor of the hip-hop site SOHH.com, said witnesses claim the disagreement was about "who was going to say what verse in the video." He adds: "I've heard Busta was trying to play peacemaker." Hundreds of people, including Missy Elliott and Mary J. Blige, had gathered for the filming of Rhymes's video for the remix of "Touch It." Yayo's lawyer says he won't be talking to police. Beatz's rep couldn't be reached for comment.

Charlie's Kids Couture

Dress your toddler in the inimitable stylings of ... Charlie Sheen? Yep: The actor, with pal and business partner Michael Berens, will launch a children's clothing line, Sheen Kidz, in March. L.A.'s Kitson Kids boutique will carry a selection of the line's 75 girls-only pieces (prices: $20 to $80). Sheen, 40, who was inspired by daughters Sam, 23 months, and Lola, 8 months, will have final approval on fabrics and designs.

Celebrity Justice?

A tough-talking Hollywood private eye faces a 110-count federal indictment for conspiring to wiretap, blackmail and intimidate dozens of Hollywood executives and celebs—including Sylvester Stallone, Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon (above). Anthony Pellicano, who had done work for several powerful showbiz attorneys, pleaded not guilty Feb. 6. Chances are slim that the attorneys' clients, many of whom are Hollywood power players, will be called to testify. Says Loyola Law School professor Stan Goldman: "They just hired a lawyer who hired Pellicano. You have to know in advance that they will deny any involvement."

I've Got You Under My Skin

Dean McDermott told PEOPLE about his new tattoo and now he's showing it off: "Truly Madly Deeply Tori" is emblazoned across his right wrist, a declaration of love for his new fiancée, Tori Spelling. "It hurt," says McDermott, 39, who plans to tattoo a portrait of Spelling on his triceps. "But it's worth it." Spelling, 32, agrees: She's planning to tattoo McDermott's name across the small of her back.

Brad and Angelina: It's a Lock

Rings? Schmings! Experts know that there's only one way to determine if Brad Pitt is smitten: Always check the hair. His latest dye-job perfectly matches the chestnut tone of paramour Angelina Jolie's mane—once again attesting: Whither his heart, Pitt's follicles are soon to follow.

The Paris Collection

Of late, Paris Hilton's not-so-simple life seems suited to Court TV. The latest installment: A Phoenix broker is offering a pile of Hilton artifacts—including 18 handwritten diaries, which he claims "tell of her deepest, darkest thoughts." The stuff had been auctioned by a storage facility due, he says, to an unpaid bill. Now he wants to sell the lot for—he hopes—a whopping profit. But Hilton's rep Elliot Mintz says the items were seized illegally and that Hilton is angry and trying to work out "an equitable solution" through her attorney. According to the broker, sex toys, legal documents, photos and videotapes are also part of the coveted cache. But Mintz says there is nothing like Hilton's infamous sex videotape in the storage facility collection. "Most are private photos of Paris with her friends and family," he says. "There is nothing here of a sexual nature."

In other Hilton legal news: On Feb. 7 Hollywood promoter Brian Quintana, 37, who claims that he introduced Paris to boyfriend Stavros Niarchos III, convinced a judge to issue a restraining order against Hilton, 25, because, he alleged, she shoved him, disturbed his relationships with clients and threatened his life. Mintz called the allegations "baffling" and "absurd."

Un-Tubby Tobey

Tobey Maguire is looking trim these days--in contrast to the figure he flaunted four years ago at the beach. The secret to his slim-down? His rep doesn't offer details but says it's no big deal: "He bulks up and slims down for roles." Maguire has always spun himself into superhero shape to play Spider-Man—and Spider-Man 3 began filming early this year.

Kelly's Breakup

Kelly Clarkson's music career may be on the fast track, but her love life just hit a bump. Clarkson, 23, and her beau of six months, rocker Graham Colton, 24, have split. "They were even out together a week or so ago," says a source close to them. "But she's on the road and he's in the studio and there just isn't time to spend together." The duo met last March when Clarkson picked the Oklahoma-born Colton and his band to open for her tour. Clarkson told the German magazine Bravo, "I'm not sad, really, because our relationship made me believe in love again."