BRINGING UP BABY
True, there are sleepless nights and diapers to be changed. But then there are those beautiful moments of mother-child bonding. Britney Spears is “loving the time she's spending just being a mom,” her personal assistant Felicia Culotta told Scoop at a Jan. 14 motivational seminar for aspiring stars. Lately that has included shopping trips with 4-month-old Sean Preston, strolling through Hollywood, showing him off to photographers and paying a visit to a Hindu temple. On Jan. 15 Spears stopped by the Malibu Hindu Temple and had a look around. (Husband Kevin Federline was not present.) Though in the past Spears has taken an interest in the mystical Jewish offshoot Kabbalah, she adorned herself with a red bindi, the mark Hindus wear on their foreheads to symbolize the third, spiritual eye. “She thought the temple was beautiful,” says Spears's rep.
Back at home, Spears seems to exude quite the calming effect herself—at least on her son. “[Sean] was crying and I was holding him,” says Culotta. “Britney said, ‘Just give him to me.’ The second I handed him to her he stopped.” While Federline has been busy producing his new music—he and Spears collaborated on a few tracks, but they won't be released until “people get to know me a little more,” he told MTV—he helps his wife with the baby. “When her back gets tired, I hold him,” he told radio host Ryan Seacrest.
On the same day Lindsay Lohan asked the media to pay attention to more important matters than her personal life, she made it difficult to oblige. Hanging out with new friend Kate Moss, 32, Lohan, 19, hit Manhattan's Dark Room, where Lohan left behind an expletive-filled message on the graffiti-filled bathroom wall. Next stop, Scores strip club, where both “were friendly and wild, buying drinks for the dancers and friends,” says a source, who added that the two did not imbibe. They also jumped up to do some (fully clothed) pole dancing of their own. A personal touch: Moss requested one of Lohan's songs and tipped the deejay for his help, the source adds. Later that week Lohan, who will star in Chapter 27, a film about John Lennon's death, partied at Bungalow 8 with Lennon's son Sean.
Is Kelly Keeping Her Songs Off Idol?
Kelly Clarkson won the first American Idol title in 2002, but she isn't going over well with the producers—and at least one of the judges—right now. The FOX show, which kicked off its fifth season Jan. 17, is having trouble reaching a financial agreement with Clarkson to allow contestants to sing her songs, according to its producers. “We get requests [for Kelly's songs] all the time and we turn things down,” says a rep for Clarkson's label. “It's not just an Idol thing.” But tart-tongued judge Simon Cowell disagrees. “It sounds to me that someone is being difficult and I don't like that.” Clarkson is up for two Grammy awards next month. Still, “No matter how talented Kelly Clarkson is, she would not be in the position she's in now without winning this show,” says Cowell. “It's a shame.”
Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe says the show still hopes to come to terms with Clarkson's reps. And Clarkson's manager Jeff Rabhan says she would never snub the show that launched her career. “We are negotiating for a fair-market value. Nobody is more proud of where she comes from than Kelly Clarkson.”
KENNY CHESNEY & RENEE ZELLWEGER: JUST LUNCH
Exes Renée Zellweger, 35, and Kenny Chesney, 36, met at Steamers Sub Shop in Franklin, Tenn., on Jan. 6. “Two people who are friendly had lunch,” says his rep.
BRITTANY MURPHY GETS ENGAGED
It's the stuff of romantic comedies: Brittany Murphy, 28, met Joe Macaluso, 32, when he worked as a production assistant on her 2004 movie Little Black Book. Now they're engaged, says the actress's rep. They have yet to set a wedding date.
THE NEW BRAD AND JEN?
At the Warner Bros. & INSTYLE Golden Globes party, Jennifer Esposito (Related) and Bradley Cooper (Kitchen Confidential) greeted each other with a kiss on the lips. Is it romance? “I'm not answering that,” said Esposito.
USHER DENIES A NEW ROMANCE
Could Usher be mixing business with pleasure? The singer, 27, has been seen with his sometime stylist Tameka Foster, 35, vacationing on St. Bart's. But his rep calls romance rumors “a complete exaggeration… they remain just friends. ” Her rep agrees.
KIEFER'S BIG DATE
Sure, the two-night 24 season premiere continued on Jan. 16, but the real Kiefer Sutherland drama unfolded live that night at the Golden Globe Awards, when he arrived hand in hand with his new girlfriend, public relations exec Tricia Cardozo. A source says Cardozo also accompanied the actor to New York City, where he was promoting his show earlier this month. During their first major event together at the Globes, PDAs were limited and the couple (who have only started dating, says the source) left the cere mony early for the Fox after party, where they tucked themselves away in a far corner of the room to chat. As for those awards, “I'm competing with myself tonight,” Sutherland, 39, was overheard saying. “ 24 is on and the Golden Globes are on. Guess which one I hope has better ratings.”
Sandra & Jesse's Teardown
Sandra Bullock is bidding good riddance to her $6.5 million mansion in Austin, Texas. Though awarded $7.8 million in damages in 2004 for its unsafe construction, she faced more legal battles. Bullock and husband Jesse James now plan to demolish it and build anew. “Whatever you do to make the wrecking ball go, she will be doing it, probably next week,” says her rep.
Hank's Get-Well Visit
Hank Williams Jr. played a special acoustic version of his hit song “A Country Boy Can Survive” Jan. 12: His audience was Sago Mine disaster survivor Randal McCloy Jr. (who was in serious condition at press time). Williams, a favorite of McCloy's, talked to the miner's family “about hunting and fishing,” says McCloy's brother-in-law Rick McGee, and told them about how he had fallen into a coma after an accident in 1975. And he promised a repeat performance. Says McGee: “He told the family, ‘I’ll come back and sing to Randy when he wakes up.’ ”
Picking the Ripe Name
Gwyneth Paltrow has fessed up—she's pregnant! But the real question is, Which name will she choose for the sibling of baby Apple, 1? Scoop had a few suggestions, and more than 55,000 people voted their choice on People.com.
ON THE BLOCK
PRICE: $9.9 million
PLACE: Los Angeles
Light-footed TV host Ellen DeGeneres is doing the real estate dance. After buying a $22 million property off the Sunset Strip, where she and girlfriend Portia de Rossi will live, she's selling her two-plus-acre Hollywood Hills compound. According to Realtor Barry Sloane, it includes a two-bedroom home, a pool house, botanical gardens and a koi pond.
The View's Meredith Vieira, 52, has written the introduction to Weight Watchers Family Power, a book dealing with healthy eating habits. Vieira spoke about her own weight struggles and those of her son Ben, 16.
Why did this book matter to you?
Statistics show that [because of childhood obesity] this is the first generation of kids who won't outlive their parents. Plus, on a personal level, I was a chubby kid who dealt with weight issues in an irresponsible way.
When I was 12, I basically went on a starvation diet and would ration 20 Ritz crackers a day, an apple and diet soda. At dinner I'd go to my room and throw food out the window. I got down to 90 lbs. from 130 the summer before seventh grade. Eventually I started to eat more sensibly, but I still yo-yo.
And then you saw your oldest son, Ben, struggling with weight, gaining about 25 lbs. when he was in eighth grade.
He was eating and snacking more than he should—two hamburgers instead of one, two orders of French fries instead of one—and we weren't that great about controlling it.
At what point did you realize there was a problem?
One summer we were on Cape Cod and everybody went to the beach and he was in the car crying. I said, “What's the matter?” And he said, “I don't want to get out of the car. I'm fat!” It broke my heart.
What's the message you want to share with other parents?
The worst thing in the world is to say to a kid, “You aren't allowed a piece of cake or cookie.” You can have a sweet once in a while; it's moderation. Eat smart.