- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Britney’s woes mount

The sad saga surrounding Britney Spears is growing worse.

The troubled pop princess has been dumped by her manager and her lawyer as she struggles to rebuild her career after a heavily criticized public performance earlier this month.

According to Agence France-Presse, Miss Spears’ manager, Jeff Kwatinetz, confirmed in a statement that his company had severed its links with the singer, the subject of frenzied tabloid attention since her disastrous concert at the MTV Video Music Awards.

“It saddens us to confirm media reports that we have terminated our professional relationship with Britney Spears,” Mr. Kwatinetz said. “We believe Britney is enormously talented and has made a terrific record, but current circumstances have prevented us from properly doing our job.”

Mr. Kwatinetz was hired by Miss Spears a month ago as she prepares to release her long-awaited new album, due Nov. 13. However, after she received a critical mauling following her performance at last week’s MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas, several tabloid reports have said Miss Spears’ handlers grew frustrated with her wild lifestyle and refusal to meet with them.

Meanwhile, Miss Spears’ lawyer, Laura Wasser, also confirmed that she was no longer representing the star.

Miss Spears’ management and legal woes come amid an increasingly bitter custody battle with ex-husband Kevin Federline over their two young children. Sources told Fox News yesterday that the singer will temporarily lose custody of her two toddler sons to Mr. Federline. An official ruling was expected later in the day.

According to FoxNews.com, Commissioner Scott Gordon will order the boys, 2-year-old Sean Preston and 1-year-old Jayden James, turned over to Mr. Federline based on information that Los Angeles Family Court received over the weekend about Miss Spears, sources told FoxNews.com.

During Monday’s custody hearing, Miss Spears’ former bodyguard, Tony Barretto, accused her of having “issues of nudity and drug use” since she returned from rehab.

Elsewhere, “Entertainment Tonight” reported that the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department are investigating legitimate leads on a contract hit on Mr. Federline’s life. TMZ.com said reports of an FBI investigation into a plot to kill Mr. Federline are untrue but that a Los Angeles Police Department investigation had been conducted in the past. According to the department, the police opened an investigation into a threat on Mr. Federline’s life nearly two months ago, but the case was closed because of insufficient evidence.

Miss Spears married Mr. Federline in October 2004. She filed for divorce in November 2006; it became official on July 30.

Pavarotti’s loot

The late Italian opera star Luciano Pavarotti carved out $21 million of his estate in the form of a trust for his second wife, Italian press reports said yesterday.

The surprise was revealed in a final will drafted July 29, five weeks before Mr. Pavarotti’s death, that was opened on Monday by lawyers for the singer’s second wife, Nicoletta Mantovani. A previous will dated June 13 remains valid, distributing the rest of the tenor’s estate among his three daughters from his first marriage, Mrs. Mantovani and the 4-year-old daughter he had with her. However, the new will carries a special clause concerning Mr. Pavarotti’s three New York apartments and items such as paintings by Henri Matisse worth a total of about $18 million. This part of the estate was bequeathed exclusively to Mrs. Mantovani in the form of a trust Mr. Pavarotti set up just a few days before his death. It is untouchable by the singer’s three elder daughters.

Media estimates of Mr. Pavarotti’s fortune range widely, from $40 million to as much as $270 million. The opera star, 71, died Sept. 6 in his hometown of Modena in northern Italy after suffering from pancreatic cancer. He married Mrs. Mantovani, 37, in 2003.

Surgery for Zsa Zsa

Zsa Zsa Gabor, who is partially paralyzed from a 2002 car accident, was set to have surgery yesterday for a severe infection in her legs, Agence France-Presse reports.

The operation was scheduled at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said John Blanchette, publicist for the 90-year-old actress. Miss Gabor has been forced to use a wheelchair and walker since the auto accident, leading to infections in her legs.

A native of Hungary, Miss Gabor — who has been married eight times — had an apparent stroke in 2005 and underwent emergency surgery to clear a blocked artery. Her screen credits include “Moulin Rouge” in 1952, and she also has appeared on TV specials and game shows as well as a guest on several television series, often playing herself.

In 1989, Miss Gabor gained notoriety for slapping a Beverly Hills police officer who stopped her for expired license plates. She was convicted after a heavily publicized trial.

Packin’ heat

The Sex Pistols are reuniting for a concert to mark the 30th anniversary of their only album, “Never Mind the Bollocks,” Associated Press reports.

All four original members — John Lydon, Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Glen Matlock — will play a one-time concert at London’s Brixton Academy on Nov. 8, the band announced yesterday on the music Web site www.nme.com.

The punk pioneers, who once sang there was “No Future,” split in 1978 but re-formed in 1996 and played together again in 2003. Last year, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Led by sneering frontman Mr. Lydon — then known as Johnny Rotten — the Pistols shocked many Britons with raucous singles including “God Save the Queen,” “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “Pretty Vacant.”

Released in 1977, “Never Mind the Bollocks” is regarded as one of the most influential albums in rock history. It will be rereleased to mark the anniversary. Bassist Sid Vicious, who replaced Mr. Matlock during the band’s period of greatest notoriety and became a punk icon, died of a drug overdose in 1979.

Starry, starry night

Actor Sam Waterston will be master of ceremonies for the all-star lineup of performances marking the Oct. 1 opening of the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s new Harman Center for the Arts.

Other well-known artists scheduled to appear include ballet dancers Nina Ananiashvili and Julio Bocca; Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis; Tony-winning actress Patti LuPone; and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter accompanied by Ayami Ikeba. Ethan McSweeny will direct the production, which also will include the Washington Ballet, Washington Performing Arts Society’s Men and Women of the Gospel Mass Choir, and actors from the Shakespeare Theatre Company.

The opening gala is a fundraiser with arts patron Ann Nitze as chair.

Compiled by Kevin Chaffee, Ann Geracimos and Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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