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BITTER BATTLE

As they pursue divorce, relations between Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen go from civil to sour

Things have gone from bad to worse for Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards. On Jan. 4, after talk of reconciling, they instead requested that their divorce proceed with a private arbitrator. Now the two are no longer on speaking terms. “It’s gotten very ugly,” says someone close to Richards. “They aren’t talking to each other at all.” Sources familiar with the couple say the relationship deteriorated rapidly and there is no hope of reconciliation. “His only concern is for the kids,” says a friend of Sheen’s. As for the status of their split, Sheen and Richards are trying to figure out custody arrangements for their two daughters, Sam, almost 2, and Lola, 8 months. According to their initial court petitions, Richards is seeking sole custody but Sheen wants joint custody. “This has been really hard on Denise,” says a Richards pal. “But she’s staying strong for her daughters’ sake.” Reps for Sheen and Richards said they do not comment on their clients’ personal lives. The actress filed for divorce last March, but in the months that followed the two were again seen together—with Richards sometimes wearing her wedding ring. The couple even took a Caribbean vacation together less than a month before the arbitrator took over their case.

KATE MOSS TELLS HER STORY TO THE POLICE

After months of pressure from British authorities, Kate Moss finally met with the London police to discuss allegations of drug abuse. The model—who had not returned to England after photos of her allegedly snorting cocaine were published in a British tabloid last September—spent almost 90 minutes talking to investigators on Jan. 31. According to her rep, Moss had always planned to assist the police “when she returned to this country.” In the meantime, she spent a month in rehab in Arizona, worked in New York City, partied in L.A. and most recently stayed at the Ritz in Paris—where she hosted a 32nd-birthday party for herself and did a photo shoot. She also signed a $1.8 million deal to write her autobiography. Moss left the police station in a silver Mercedes. “She has not been arrested,” said a police spokesman, adding that the investigation is continuing. If Moss admits drug use, she could receive an official caution that may hinder her ability to visit the U.S.

Lean Nicole

Have recent stresses taken their toll on Nicole Richie‘s physique? She’s set to start filming another season of The Simple Life at the end of February, is creating a new series for FOX and in December had her engagement to DJ AM called off (“Their lifestyles were different,” says an AM friend). Among those who are concerned is Paula Abdul, who once suffered an eating disorder: “She has disappeared in front of our eyes,” says Abdul. “I’m very worried.” Says a Richie friend: “When she is really anxious and stressed, she just doesn’t eat well.” Richie’s trainer Adam Ernster says she’s doing fine. “She’s working on building muscle,” he says. “She’s healthy and upbeat as always.” Richie has lately been seen with Jackass‘s Steve-O—but her rep insists the two are not dating.

They Meet Again

Their annulment became official Dec. 20, but it sure looks like Renée Zellweger and Kenny Chesney remain on cozy terms. After a string of meals together during the past two months—the two were spotted dining in restaurants near her home in Connecticut and at a sub shop near his place in Tennessee—Zellweger, 36, and Chesney, 37, reunited for a little quality time in Los Angeles last week. Is their romance back on? Sources say that for now they are just … wait for it … good friends.

OSCAR PREVIEW

IT’S A DATE!

Being nominated for an Oscar for the first time is a thrill—and it was doubled Jan. 31 for Michelle Williams, 25, and Heath Ledger, 26. The couple met while playing husband and wife in Brokeback Mountain and are now real-life parents of a 3-month-old daughter, Matilda. The phone at their L.A. hotel room rang early on Jan. 31 with the news of his Best Actor nod and hers for Best Supporting Actress. Williams described the scene for Scoop—and the couple’s plans for the big night.

What was your first thought when you got the call?

I was really confused by the phone going off so early this morning. I couldn’t imagine who was crossing the acceptable line of when to call. I can’t even remember what we said at the time.

So it’s safe to say you were not wide awake. But you must have had some strong emotions, right?

We were pretty sleepy, to be honest with you. I was surprised, grateful, overwhelmed.

What’s in store for you on Oscar evening? It’s going to be a good date night.

Who’s going to watch Matilda?

Her grandma [Williams’s mother] has already offered. She’s the most excited about these award shows because it means she gets to babysit. This is a whole event for her.

Is there any rivalry between you and Heath over your nominations?

There’s no competition between us. None at all.

AND THE NOMINEES ARE…

Oscar picked a wide range of characters for the 78th annual awards show March 5: cops, cowboys, country singers, miners, broadcasters, government spies, authors and one transsexual waitress.

Best Picture

Brokeback Mountain
Capote
Crash
Good Night, and Good Luck
Munich

Best Actor

• Philip Seymour Hoffman

• Terrence Howard

• Heath Ledger

• Joaquin Phoenix

• David Strathairn

Best Actress

• Judi Dench

• Felicity Huffman

Keira Knightley
Charlize Theron
Reese Witherspoon

Best Supporting Actor

George Clooney
• Matt Dillon

• Paul Giamatti

Jake Gyllenhaal
• William Hurt

Best Supporting Actress

• Amy Adams

• Catherine Keener

• Frances McDormand

• Rachel Weisz

• Michelle Williams

THE ONES THEY OVERLOOKED

When it comes to the Academy Awards, someone always gets snubbed. If Scoop had a say, these deserving performances would receive Oscar nods …

BEST NONGAY PERFORMANCE IN A COWBOY HAT

Tommy Lee Jones, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

BEST COUPLE ACTING AS A COUPLE PRETENDING THEY’RE NOT A COUPLE

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST, NONUNION

The Penguins, March of the Penguins

BEST REHEARSED KISS

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes at the War of the Worlds premiere in New York City

BEST SCREAM, ALIEN INVASION
Dakota Fanning, War of the Worlds

BEST SCREAM, DEPILATORY MOMENT
Steve Carell, The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Madonna: Thing About the Ring

When Madonna shows up in public without her wedding ring—as she did Jan. 25 at the Paris fashion shows (left)—people notice. And talk. And … it means zilch, says her rep. “Madonna does not always wear her wedding ring,” says Liz Rosenberg, adding that her union with husband Guy Ritchie is “just fine.” So what’s news? The 47-year-old singer will perform at the Grammys with the Gorillaz and is putting in long workouts to prepare for a possible summer tour.

Bai Ling’s SUNDANCE $WAG

Ever wonder just how much free merchandise stars haul home from events like the Sundance Film Festival? Actress Bai Ling gave Scoop her Sundance Swag Diary: “They flew me in a private jet and put me in a condo…. I got a BlackBerry 8700c, I got these puffy boots from Ugg … bags from Kooba, [together they] cost like $1,500 or $2,000 … and also a blue purse by Solas Fashion … a winter coat from Le Tigre … sunglasses from Oakley … jewelry from Lia Sophia…. and some things at the Motorola Suite…. I got a massage and a facial at [L.A.-based skin care to the stars] Kate Somerville…. I had probably seven bags full of stuff. I was very lucky.”

THE OPRAH EFFECT

Sure, Oprah Winfrey is a mainstay on the most powerful people lists. But just how golden is her touch? After she first touted author James Frey and his book A Million Little Pieces on Sept. 22, it sold 85,000 copies in four days. (She famously unplugged the book Jan. 26 after it was found to be fraudulent: “I feel duped, but more importantly I feel that you betrayed millions of readers,” she said.) Among the many others who have benefited from the talk-show queen’s recommendations:

Wacoal iBra and Prima Donna bra: Sales jumped 189 percent at Nordstrom within two days after they were featured on Oprah. Faith Hill‘s Fireflies: The CD more than doubled in sales in one week. AG Jeans: Nordstrom online sold 260 pairs—up from their daily average of 12—the day after Winfrey told viewers the jeans “work very well for me.”

SALES DOUBLED in one week AFTER Hill’s Oct. 3 Oprah appearance

189% RISE IN SALES in one day AFTER Oprah mention Nov. 15

85,000 copies sold in 4 days AFTER named as Oprah‘s book of the month

Nick’s Cause

Nick Lachey was at a restaurant last summer when “a lady came up to the table and told me that my name is one of the more frequent names used by predators to lure kids online,” the singer tells Scoop. “That was really disturbing.” The lady was Parry Aftab, a privacy lawyer. That encounter eventually led to Nick’s involvement in a safe Internet chat and networking site created for teens, which blocks uninvited guests. Lachey is a cofounder of http://www.yfly.com, launched Feb. 1.

Tyra’s Fear Factor

Call it phlipperphobia: the acute fear of dolphins. Tyra Banks has it and would like to get rid of it. “I’ve been afraid of them ever since I was 8 or 9. I have dreams that I am in a pool and there are dolphins bumping me and I’m frightened,” she says. Banks confronted her fears in a pool with a dolphin Jan. 16 at San Diego’s SeaWorld. (She taped it for a Feb. 7 episode of The Tyra Banks Show.) “I’m glad I did this,” she says, “but I’m still not going swimming with them.”