Scoop

updated 05/03/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/03/2004 01:00AM

Britney Throws a Birthday Surprise

How to show your brother that you care? First, have him arrested. Then hire some scantily clad dancers. And don't forget the crabcake

Cops, handcuffs and paparazzi. Another Michael Jackson scuffle? No, just an elaborately planned stunt, masterminded by Britney Spears, to celebrate the birthday of her older brother Bryan, 27, on April 19. Taking time out from her world tour, the pop princess hired actors to pose as FBI agents and arrest Bryan while she and her sibling were near her Santa Monica home. With fake celebrity photographers in tow, the "agents" took a handcuffed Bryan to the local club Space, where 50 or so friends shouted, "Surprise!" As go-go dancers entertained and guests snacked on crabcakes, Bryan was surprised yet again when Carmen Electra and her racy Pussycat Dolls took the stage at 9 p.m. for a 20-minute set. Bryan "loved it—he was in shock," says a partygoer. Then Spears came on to sing "Happy Birthday" a cappella clad in the Pussycat Dolls' costume of bra panties corset and fishnet stockings. She seemed very comfortable "She looked in the mirror and said 'Oh my God, I love this!' " says Robin Antin, creator of the group. "She felt sexy right away—she was getting into it." Spears reveled in her costume until 11 p.m. before changing into jeans and dancing to the beat of music (old-school hip-hop) played by deejay Pesce until 2 a.m.

An Extreme Love Story
It's a transformation that most makeover candidates can only dream of. After more than 10 hours of cosmetic surgery procedures, including nose jobs and chin implants, Kacie Searcy and James Bower have emerged from Extreme Makeover...engaged. "We literally fell in love, like, immediately," says Searcy, 22. "We met and five days later we were exchanging 'I love you's.' " The couple met Feb. 9 at a preshow session, just two days before Searcy was scheduled for her surgery (Bower 23, had his 2½ weeks earlier). The two "have not stopped talking since," says Searcy. "He would spell things with fingers on my back. He was writing 'Marry me in June,' but I had fallen asleep." She finally got the message and accepted Bower's proposal on April 1, after only seven weeks of courtship "All my shyness went out the window when I met her," Bower says "I could be completely myself and it was awesome." The couple revealed their makeovers on TV April 14 but have not yet revealed their wedding date.

WHITNEY AND BOBBY CHILL
Stop the presses! Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown just spent a quiet few days relaxing at the Atlantis casino and resort in the Bahamas—and making no news at all. "I just got out of prison, so I really need [a break]," says Brown, 37. He and Houston, 40, who spent time at a substance-abuse facility in March (and traveled to the Bahamas with a counselor), dined poolside and shopped with family. But Brown apparently steered clear of the buffet. "I'm trying to get rid of [my belly]," says the singer, who added 15 lbs. during a month in jail on a parole violation. He blamed the gain on a "lack of anybody taking the fork out of my hand." Brown will be back in the public arena April 30 when, in a Dateline NBC interview, he tells Stone Phillips that he once spent weeks getting high "on coke...marijuana at the same time, alcohol," partly to avoid arguing with his wife. Now? "It's kick-back time for my wife," he says. "She needed it."

RINGING APOLOGY?
David Beckham appears to have learned Lesson No. 1 from the Kobe Bryant School of Getting Back in the Good Graces of Your Wife: Make peace through expensive jewelry. Although Beckham didn't match the $4 million ring Bryant, 25, bought for his spouse, Vanessa, 21, after British tabs linked him with several women, the soccer stud did pick up a pink-diamond ring and matching earrings estimated at more than $500,000 for his Missus Victoria, 30. (The couple dismissed the press reports of infidelity as absurd.")

Paris: Straight to Video
Caught on tape—again! Before Paris Hilton hit the Internet in her breakout sex-video role, she made a real movie—but this one may be more embarrassing than the tape. The hotel heiress played one of nine friends stranded in a Scottish manor house in Nine Lives, a British fright flick that enjoyed but one night in an actual movie theater—during a horror film festival in August 2002 in London, where it encountered a rude reception. So the movie is going straight to video and will be available May 11. Though Hilton, 23, is only onscreen for about 10 minutes in the slasher epic, she nevertheless takes center stage on the video's packaging, which features the tagline, "Starring America's Hottest Socialite." The second series of Hilton's FOX series, The Simple Life, will premiere on June 16. But she's not giving up on a life in film. Hilton is currently in Australia filming House of Wax, a remake of the 1953 Vincent Price horror classic.

the smoking gun

LOVE'S MONEY WOES
The managers of a swanky Manhattan condominium have filed a lien against Courtney Love, claiming she hasn't paid her bills since last September. According to Court TV's The Smoking Gun, a March 31 notice of lien recorded with New York City's Department of Finance shows she now owes nearly $18,000 in common charges, late fees and other costs. The 39-year-old performer bought her 4,000-sq.-ft. apartment—in the SoHo building where Lenny Kravitz owns a penthouse—for $2.64 million in March 2001. The lien was recorded following Love's recent New York spree, during which she was spotted, guitar in hand, sitting on her condo's window ledge and yelling at passers-by. In a recent interview, Love claimed to have been swindled out of $40 million.

POP QUIZ

Katie Couric
Katie Couric hosts the second Hollywood Hits Broadway Gala, a benefit for colon cancer research and prevention, aboard the Queen Mary 2 on April 24. Couric, 47, spoke with Scoop about how she and her children Ellie, 12, and Carrie, 8, try to honor the memory of her late husband, attorney Jay Monahan.

What makes you so passionate about this cause?

Ever since Jay's diagnosis and death [from colon cancer in 1998], many people call me when their families are going through the same thing, and say, "What should we do?" I so relate to them and the desperation they are experiencing and the anguish.

What would Jay say about your efforts?

I think he would say, "That's great, but I wish I were here." No matter how many things are done to honor someone's memory, it can't replace the person himself. He should be here watching his kids grow up.

And how are the kids?

They are doing great. At times I know they wish they had a father, and a more traditional nuclear family. Everyone says children are resilient, and that's very true. If they feel love from the people around them, even if it's minus one, they heal and thrive.

Do they help out with the cause?

Carrie had a lemonade stand and raised $101.76 for the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health. Ellie, at sleepaway camp, gave quite an impassioned speech about colorectal cancer [during a charity drive].

You'll be holding the benefit on an ocean liner. Ever been on one before?

I was on a cruise in ninth grade, and I remember it well. We hit a tropical cyclone, and I spent a lot of time losing my lunch.

Hmmm.

The show is going to be docked, so seasickness shouldn't be a problem.

Totally off topic: What's the deal with Matt Lauer's hair? Is there more of it?

It's spring. So I think it's appropriate that we see a little more growth.

ON THE BLOCK

KATE'S CORNER
PRICE: Estimated $5.1 million
PLACE: London

SPECS: Kate Winslet and her husband, director Sam Mendes, are becoming landed gentry. The couple recently sold their four-story, five-bedroom townhouse in London's Belsize Park neighborhood and are moving to a country estate in the Cotswolds. They leave behind a mid-Victorian home, purchased in 2002 for $3.8 million, complete with private garden and an artist's studio.

MORE ON: Britney Spears

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