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Let's Get This Party Started: Top Stories for Friday 06/16/06

6/16/2006 9:37 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Britney SpearsA defiant Britney Spears hit back last night at her critics and the tabloid press as she demonstrated on NBC's "Dateline," both in word and manner, the kind of emotional rollercoaster she's been on during the past two years.

In her wide-ranging hour-long interview with Matt Lauer on "Dateline," the pop princess elaborated further on her life as a mother and a homemaker and did her best to portray her existence now as a fundamentally domestic one. "I like to cook, try to cook, and I like to clean," she told Lauer. "I'm obsessive like that."

Plus Jacko, Dan Rather, and other top stories.

Britney Takes The Initiative

A defiant Britney Spears hit back last night at her critics and the tabloid press as she demonstrated on NBC's "Dateline," both in word and manner, the kind of emotional rollercoaster she's been on during the past two years.

In her wide-ranging hour-long interview with Matt Lauer on "Dateline," the pop princess elaborated further on her life as a mother and a homemaker and did her best to portray her existence now as a fundamentally domestic one. "I like to cook, try to cook, and I like to clean," she told Lauer. "I'm obsessive like that."

Whether seated in armchairs inside the house or strolling a small portion of the grounds outside, the six-months-pregnant Spears' demeanor seemed to veer between a girlish disbelief of her success and its rewards, an anguished helplessness at its consequences, and a determination to overcome it all.

"I love where I'm at right now," she said, "and the reason why maybe this is happening is I won't take BS from anyone."

Spears also gave Madonna a definitive brush-off, as she responded to Lauer's question about whether they had "a relationship" with an unambiguous no. "I respect her work and I think she's a very smart lady," said Spears. "But I don't live that [referring to Kabbalah, the religious theodicy to which she was introduced by Madonna] like those people do." Spears also got in a dig at Madonna's well-known penchant for re-invention when Lauer asked her about the change in the public's perception of her, suggesting that she couldn't - or wouldn't - put herself through personal "transformation."

By contrast, Spears twice expressed her admiration for Goldie Hawn, who she cited as an example of a celebrity whose early going was rough and then had a makeover, in Hawn's case with the film "Private Benjamin." And she even told Lauer that she loved rival pop diva Pink, who once sang the lyric "Tired of being compared to damn Britney Spears" in her hit "Don't Let Me Get Me."

As for her actual career, she said she would consider going back in to the studio in "a year or to" but didn't know what kind of music she would be recording. For the moment she's focusing on a baby fashion line with the slightly unfortunate name "Babies are Rock and Roll."

Britney's husband Kevin Federline was conspicuous for his absence during the entire show, though a clip from a recent interview he did on "Access Hollywood" was shown, wherein he told Maria Menounos that, despite his wife's reported $100 million fortune, "I have been paying for everything out of my pocket. Everything."

Lauer, for his part, did what he could to radiate sympathy - suggesting at the very outset that the idea for the talk was all Spears, and decrying the actions of the paparazzi. But the sad impression that registered as "Dateline" flashed back and forth between clips of Britney in her halcyon days and in her reduced state today, was ultimately of the distance between the two Britneys in just a few short years.


Rather Finished At CBS News; Bradley Stays On


The Dan Rather Era will soon be over at CBS News, as the veteran newsman told TelevisionWeek yesterday that he would be leaving the network, though he didn't specify when.

"Finishing details are being worked out for me to leave CBS News after 44 years," said Rather, who stepped down as anchor of the "CBS Evening News" last March and has only contributed a handful of stories to "60 Minutes" since then. A Washington Post report yesterday said that the arrival of Katie Couric as the anchor of the evening newscast and her and Anderson Cooper's impending involvement on "60 Minutes" created a logjam that forced CBS' and Rather's hand.

Rather, whose alternately feisty and folksy manner was often polarizing for viewers, told TVWeek that he has other "opportunities I can't discuss today" to consider.

Meanwhile, Lloyd Grove reports in his column today that Rather's colleague Ed Bradley is staying at "60 Minutes" after a reportedly difficult negotiation. "I just signed for three years," Bradley told Grove, "I'm a happy camper.

Jacko Nanny Wants to Marry Him


Michael Jackson may be getting married again, if only to keep his children's mother Debbie Rowe from gaining partial custody of them.

Fox News' Roger Friedman reports that Grace Rwarmba, the nanny of Jackson's kids Prince, Paris, and Blanket, has openly lobbied for a wedding to the erstwhile King of Pop, and now such a union may actually happen. Jackson is reportedly concerned that Rowe may fight for custody of the children in court, and thinks that marrying Rwarmba might help his cause.

However, Rwarmba has had an affair with Michael's brother Jermaine, according to Friedman, which would scuttle her chances to be his wife, and is disliked by the rest of the Jackson clan, who once believed that Rwarmba was poisoning him. Ironically enough, a Los Angeles woman is now suing Jackson, as TMZ reported yesterday, claiming that he harassed her and tampered with her food and water.

Ruben Gets $2 Million in Lawsuit

Former "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard has been awarded $2 million in a suit against his former manager after the latter misappropriated his money and credit cards.

An Alabama judge sided with Studdard against his ex-manager Ronald W. Edwards, awarding him $500,000 for his actual losses and another $1.5 million in punitive damages, according to the Associated Press.

According to the judge's ruling, even though Studdard has sold more than 2.2 million records, the damage done to his credit by Edwards' mismanagement has made it difficult for the Idol to buy a home.

Vince Vaughn's Mother Duped By Multi-Million-Dollar Scam

Forbes magazine reports that Vince Vaughn's hedge-fund manager mom lost $25 million of her own –- and her investors' – money after she invested the money with alleged scam artists who promised her a 10% return.

According to Forbes, Sharon Vaughn wore a wire and helped the Secret Service track down the alleged perpetrators of the scam, which led to arrests. However, Mrs. Vaughn had to give up her license, pay more than $800,000 and agree to a ban from the industry, even though she ended up being the victim.

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