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MILEY & LIAM

HOW IT FELL APART

After weeks of shocking the world - that VMA performance; getting naked in a music video - Miley Cyrus, 20, actually did something not so surprising on Sept. 16: She confirmed through reps that she and Liam Hemsworth, 23, had ended their engagement. For those who have followed their tumultuous relationship over the past four years, the split was a long time coming. Breakup rumors first surfaced in February, and the couple gradually spent less and less time together.

"It was always the same problems: Liam feels Miley is too focused on her career, and she won't compromise," a Cyrus insider says. Her evolving look and impulse for provocation didn't help either. "Liam thinks Miley has changed for the worse, and he can't accept it," says the insider, adding that the constant bickering made it "impossible for them to get back to a healthy relationship."

Speculation about the two reached a fever pitch when Cyrus stopped following Hemsworth on Twitter Sept. 14. He didn't seem too distraught: Hours later he popped up in Las Vegas with a group of male pals. As a night of partying wore on, he flirted with Mexican singer-actress Eiza González, 23, spending time with her the following evening as well.

Though another source says Cyrus is "heartbroken" over the failed romance, the insider insists she's ready to move on: "The back and forth with Liam has been a distraction for so long. She seems more relieved than upset."

SIGNS OF THE END

THERE WERE PLENTY OF HINTS THAT THEY WERE NEVER GOING TO MAKE IT TO THE ALTAR

FAMILY FOES

At the Paranoia premiere Aug. 8, Hemsworth's family (above, in 2011) barely interacted with Cyrus. Sources say both families encouraged the couple to move on.

THE RUMOR MILL

Hemsworth was spotted with January Jones in February and reportedly kept in touch with her. "The rumors really got to Miley, and she didn't feel she could trust Liam," says the the insider.

THE ON-AGAIN, OFF-AGAIN RING

Over the past six months, Cyrus did her part to fuel split buzz by sometimes going out without her 3.5-carat Neil Lane engagement ring, which she will likely return. The insider says she doesn't want to be "tempted to get back with Liam again."

ARTISTIC DIFFERENCES

Cyrus's MTV VMA performance on Aug. 25 - during which she gyrated on Robin Thicke - caused issues for the couple. "Liam didn't approve, and they argued about it," says the insider. "He didn't understand why she had to be so provocative."

KHLOE & LAMAR

HEADED FOR DIVORCE?

They've been living apart for weeks, and now they're barely speaking. "It's not looking good," a long-time family friend says of the marriage of Khloé Kardashian Odom, 29, and Lamar Odom, 33. Odom, who has been struggling with substance-abuse issues, "is the one who wants out, and she's really hurt," adds the friend. But the couple, who wed in 2009, may not be communicating enough to even come to terms about their troubled marriage: Kardashian Odom "is trying to figure out what to do," says a source in her inner circle. "But Lamar isn't getting back to her."

ASHTON & DEMI

FRIENDS AGAIN?

On Sept. 9 Ashton Kutcher, 35, and Demi Moore, 50, were spotted together at an airport, inciting Internet buzz over the head-scratching scene. Were the exes, who've been embroiled in a protracted divorce, friends again? Not exactly. They attended the same tech conference and ended up on the same plane back to L.A. - but their awkward parting (he waved goodbye while she silently walked away) reflects the state of their negotiations. While a Moore insider says the two "are moving closer to a settlement," the actress refuses to settle for less money. Their largest point of contention: Moore's potential $25 million cut of Kutcher's tech investments, which include Skype and Airbnb. "She is very aware that Ashton wants to move on" with girlfriend Mila Kunis, 30, the insider adds. "Though she has [moved on] too, she is still bitter. She is in no rush to finish [the divorce]."

CELEBS GO BACK TO SCHOOL

SNACK TIME

Jessica Alba holds on tight to her lunch bag and water bottle.

TEACHER'S PET?

Heidi Klum has her red apple ready.

MORNING RIDE

No bus needed for a backpack-toting Hugh Jackman, who zips around on a scooter.

RECESS!

Bethenny Frankel monkeys around on the playground.

STUDY HALL

James Franco stays ahead of the class with some light reading.

  • Contributors:
  • CONTRIBUTORS Melody Chiu,
  • Patrick Gomez,
  • Gillian Telling,
  • with K.C. Baker,
  • Pernilla Cedenheim,
  • Mark Gray,
  • Aili Nahas,
  • Christopher Sabatini,
  • Amber Sexton,
  • Elliot Stokes,
  • Michelle Tan.