Let's Get This Party Started: Top Stories for Thursday 07/20/06

7/20/2006 9:35 AM PDT

Let's Get This Party Started: Top Stories for Thursday 07/20/06

Justin Timberlake has a soft spot in his heart for former flame Britney Spears, and he still feels the pangs of their breakup from four long years ago.

JT says that he fell for Britney the instant he laid eyes on her. "I was in love with her from the start," he says. "I was infatuated with her from the moment I saw her." Still, he's moved on to a much more "adult" relationship with current squeeze Cameron Diaz.

When Timberlake and Spears broke up, the pop star says in an interview in GQ (via People), "I felt like she had a couple of opportunities to just sort of stick up for me, and she didn't. Which is fine. But at that time, you know, I fought back." So he wrote a song about it – his smash hit "Cry Me a River."

And even though Brit may be getting the worst of it now, what with the baby-juggling, the "Today" show interview and so on, JT thinks there's more to it than meets the eye. "I don't think you can ever count somebody like her out. Because she may appear one way, but she's very clever."

Meanwhile, Justin's three-year relationship with Cameron Diaz is just so "adult" compared to the "high school"-ish time he spent with Spears. Says JT, "For me, this time around it's been important to stay, at least as much as I can, out of the limelight...I've received so much more from it by keeping it just between the two people it's supposed to be between."

Lindsay vs. Paris, Round 47: Bonfire of the Blackberry

Not long after a little cackling fit at a Malibu party escalated tensions between Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton this past weekend, a report today suggests that Paris may be engaging in some high-tech chicanery to get under Lindsay's skin.

This week, says Lohan's rep Leslie Sloane Zelnick, Lindsay's pals started receiving "disgusting and very mean messages" that were supposedly from Lindsay – except they weren't, according to Page Six. Zelnick thinks she knows who filched the password and sent the messages, based on the semantic evidence: "Some people think Paris [Hilton] may have been involved because the wording of the messages sounds very familiar."

Hilton rep Elliot Mintz knows what Lindsay is going through, and says that the current allegation couldn't be further from the truth: "I lived through this with Paris two years ago when her Sidekick was hacked into, and the loss of privacy is unbearable. But as for any suggestion that Paris would have anything to do with this, that is silly, untrue, and unfortunate."

Dakota Fanning Ventures Into Dark Territory, Scares Away the Money

Kid phenom Dakota Fanning is going the way of Brooke Shields and Jodie Foster – and then some – as she tackles a dicey, but potentially award-worthy role in which she endures a sexual assault and appears naked in several scenes.

The 12-year-old thespian is starring in "Hounddog," a dark story, as Lloyd Grove puts it, of "abuse, violence and Elvis Presley adulation in the rural South," in which her character gets raped in an explicit scene and appears nude or wearing only undergarments in others. Fanning's mom and agent apparently see the film as Oscar material for Dakota, but potential investors apparently shied away from its creepy material. Production shut down briefly, but filming will wrap tomorrow in North Carolina.

"It's not just the rape scene," says Fanning agent Cindy Osbrink. "The whole story is challenging Dakota as an actress...I've seen the dailies, and in every scene she gets better and better."

Tori Moves Away From Mom and To New York

Look out Manhattan – Tori Spelling is on her way to the city. The actress and daughter of the late Aaron Spelling is coming to town for a few months, says Page Six, so that she can take over from Rita Wilson in the Broadway production of "Chicago" – or so she hopes. (The role hasn't been cast yet.) She and hubby Dean McDermott are also putting some distance between themselves and Tori's mom Candy, with whom Tori has been tussling since her dad's recent death. Of course, even if the Broadway gig doesn't work out, Tori won't exactly be hurting for cash – she will reportedly get a big chunk of Aaron's $500 million estate.

Taylor Faces Crowded Day of Idols For Record Release

"American Idol" Taylor Hicks just can't win for winning – he's going to be sharing his album release date, Nov. 14, with also-rans Katharine McPhee and Kellie Pickler. Sony BMG will release all three albums together for the first time in the short history of the competition.

Industry insiders say that the move will help build traffic for the also-rans. "With the exception of Clay Aiken," says Billboard's Geoff Mayfield in the New York Post, "the other finalists who have gotten albums haven't really been a big deal."

Chris Daughtry is the other season five finalist to have signed a recording deal but no word yet on his release date.

Goodie Bag: Royals A-Twitter Over Film, "Hulk" Returns (But Why?), and Biel Goes for $30,000

The British royal family will not be amused, say Rush & Molloy, by a new film coming out this fall about them that portrays their lives and foibles at Windsor Castle after the death of Princess Diana. Helen Mirren is already getting Oscar buzz for her portrayal of the Queen . . . Even though people didn't seem to care a great deal about the not-very-jolly green giant the Hulk the last time around, Marvel is bringing him back to the big screen for another go-round. The first installment made $132 million in the US, though its budget was a reported $150 million. Action director Louis Leterrier has been signed to take the helm . . . And remember that auction for the girl who lost her leg on prom night? Well, the Rocky Mountain News reports that the big prize – a date with Jessica Biel – fetched $30,000 to help the young Molly Bloom. "I promise, I'm a cheap date," said Biel in a taped message at the auction. Somehow, we don't think so.

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