updated 08/04/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/04/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Who needs focus groups when you've got New York City's bump-and-grind crowd? On a recent night Britney Spears slipped into Manhattan nightspot Show with her bodyguard and a friend to conduct her own marketing research. Spears gave the deejay an advance CD of her new album, due this fall, asking him to play the second and ninth tracks. She retreated to a raised VIP area to gauge the crowd's reaction and drink a Red Bull (the pop princess told a club insider that she swears off alcohol when she's recording). The same source tells me the two untitled songs were "very cutting-edge with a lot of bass that made you want to move." Satisfied with the response, Spears left after 25 minutes, holding the CD aloft in a victory pose as she exited.

Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher were in Las Vegas for the second weekend in a row, but the recent visit was more of a family affair. They were there to help Demi's daughter Scout celebrate her 12th birthday. Dad Bruce Willis also tagged along, as did a handful of Scout's friends. The group dined at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino's Nobu restaurant but ran into a glitch afterward: A group of photographers had assembled to cover the Duran Duran concert afterparty at the nearby Simon restaurant. So the stars gave the tweens a quick course in the celebrity dodge-and-weave and led them out Nobu's side door. The next morning Scout and her pals got to swim with the dolphins at Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. Willis snapped photos; Moore sat on Kutcher's lap and snuggled.

Also in Vegas over the weekend: Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson. The trio dropped in to the Hard Rock to see Hudson's husband, singer Chris Robinson, who opened for Elvis Costello. Afterward all four hit the blackjack tables. Hawn and Russell only played for about an hour, but Hudson and Robinson gambled all night. Hudson had a little trouble with the game. Says one bystander: "Chris had to give her advice and help her count."

A Scene you won't see on Project Green-light, HBO's reality series about the creation of an indie film: Ben Affleck yelling at Miramax head Harvey Weinstein. Affleck, who is the executive producer of The Battle of Shaker Heights, the movie at the center of Greenlight, got into a heated argument recently with Weinstein over the film's release. Weinstein planned to put the film in only two theaters—one in Manhattan, one in L.A.—on Aug. 22, arguing that the low-budget flick didn't deserve more. An angry Affleck then called Weinstein from Vancouver (where he is shooting the thriller Paycheck) and took the mogul to task for burying the film. Sadly for Greenlight, none of the pyrotechnics took place on-camera.

Fast Takes

Spotted at Scores strip club in New York City: Colin Farrell, who arrived with pals in the wee hours of July 12, then dropped $20,000 on champagne and tips to the dancers and staff....

Sharon Stone came to the aid of two motorists involved in a car crash in Beverly Hills on July 18. The actress, who witnessed the accident, helped the shaken but unhurt drivers to the sidewalk and waited with them until police arrived.

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