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TROUBLE AT HER SCHOOL
She looks for answers after her $40 million African academy is hit by abuse allegations
Ten months ago, Oprah Winfrey fulfilled a cherished dream: the creation of her Leadership Academy for Girls—a state-of-the-art free boarding school in Henley-on-Klip, South Africa, for 152 poor girls ages 11 and 12. “These are my girls and I love them,” she said. Little wonder a recent scandal seems to have stung her personally. In October, the academy was hit by allegations that a dorm matron acted improperly at the school—the latest in a series of woes that included a picket by locals who said area workers weren’t getting jobs there (the strike was resolved amicably). “Criminal procedures against the person [will] get underway” when a preliminary investigation into the charges is finished, says a police spokesman. Meanwhile, the academy has removed the dorm matron. Winfrey, herself a survivor of childhood abuse, has hired counselors for students and is spending time on campus. “Nothing is more serious or devastating to me than an allegation of misconduct by an adult against any girl at the academy,” she said. “I will do everything within my power to ensure their safety.”
BACK TO COURT
The Oct. 30 release of her album Blackout just might turn Britney Spears‘s career around. Whether she can get back in the motherhood game is another question. After having her visitation rights to sons Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, temporarily suspended by L.A. Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon, the singer is again allowed to see her kids while she and ex Kevin Federline attend counseling sessions on coparenting. Will she get the boys back? Before any final decision can be made, Spears and Federline must appear at an Oct. 26 hearing, one of many to come.
Is Brit ready to face a judge? A source says she “artificially” plumped up her pucker. But the jury’s out on her makeover.
Lindsay & Riley
Lindsay Lohan‘s new boyfriend Riley Giles has passed the Dad Test. “I think the kid is great, his family is great,” Michael Lohan tells Scoop. “She’s finally met someone who is not a celebrity.” Back in L.A. filming Dare to Love Me, Lohan has been spending quality time with snowboarder Giles during her off-time, lunching on pizza and power shopping at Los Angeles boutiques. But Lohan is eager to return to Utah, where she completed rehab, says her dad. “When she’s done [filming] she wants to get back out there.”
Rumer Willis …
GETS A MINI-ME!
She was born famous, but now Willis, 19, has her own Mattel doll—to be auctioned at the Dream Halloween L.A. benefit in Santa Monica for the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation on Oct. 27. A doll version of mom Demi Moore sold at the ’97 auction.
Leonardo DiCaprio, 32, and Israeli model Bar Refaeli, 22, who began dating in the spring of 2006, have called it quits. “The relationship ran its course,” a source tells Scoop. “It’s bad enough having a cross-country relationship, but it’s a lot more difficult across continents.” Still, a friend of the actor’s says, “They were very much in love, but they’ve always had a rocky relationship.” So are they moving on? DiCaprio spent time with pal Lukas Haas sightseeing in Paris after the split, while Refaeli was spotted leaving pro-surfer Kelly Slater’s Tel Aviv hotel before dawn that same weekend. Refaeli’s rep had no comment.
Topher Grace’s relationship with Australian import Teresa Palmer—his co-star in the 2008 comedy Kids in America—is heating up. On Oct. 16 they were spotted at West Hollywood club Troubadour, where they spent the evening with Katherine Heigl watching her fiancé, singer Josh Kelley, perform. And this past summer Grace and Palmer cuddled at Hamptons hotspots. Says a pal: “Topher’s smitten.”
Looks like the American Beauty star has a new man! Suvari, 28, was spotted at Rome’s Re-Caffe restaurant on Oct. 18, smooching Simone Sostito, a music producer she met in Toronto. The next day the pair went sightseeing. But is it amore? “He’s not her boyfriend,” a source says. “Things just got romantic.”
Since being hospitalized after an apparent suicide attempt in August, Owen Wilson has kept a low profile. But on Oct. 16 the actor joined a fun-loving posse of pals (among them his brothers Luke and Andrew, Jessica Simpson and Woody Harrelson) at Willie Nelson’s ranch outside Austin, Texas, where the high-profile crew shot a video for Nelson’s song “You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore.” As part of the festivities, the gang filmed an all-star lawn mower race. “Owen was in a great mood,” says Nelson’s pal Joe King Carrasco. And why not? He was the first to cross the finish line.
TAKES A DIVE
Viewers of the ABC reality show Dancing with the Stars got a big dose of reality Oct. 22, when contestant Marie Osmond, 48, fainted on live TV after performing the samba. Osmond awoke a minute later, telling the audience “I’m okay” before heading backstage. Why did she pass out? “I have allergies, the air quality is terrible and I couldn’t get my breath,” she said. Even so, Osmond’s son Stephen Craig told Scoop she’s not done dancing. “She’s awesome,” he says. “She’s going to be fine.” Phew!
LET’S DO LUNCH!
On Dec. 6 the Food Bank for New York City and the Lunchbox Fund bring star power to the school cafeteria by auctioning off these celeb-decorated pails (www.thelunchboxauction.org).
Nip/Tuck’s bad-boy plastic surgeon heads west and bares all in one of the show’s steamiest seasons ever
Nip/Tuck’s Dr. Christian Troy is back! And in the FX show’s fifth season, kicking off Oct. 30, Julian McMahon’s love-him-or-hate-him character moves to L.A. The Australian-born hottie, 39, dishes with PEOPLE’s Alexis Chiu about spicing things up on-set and in the kitchen.
So this season you asked to be naked in a scene while doing push-ups?
It says something about my character. He’s got a house on the beach, where anyone can look in, and he’s doing push-ups naked and answering his cell phone.
Any qualms being nude?
I’ve been doing it for five seasons on the show. But it’s not like I get to work and go, ‘Great—now I can strip!’ It certainly gives you a burst of inspiration when you don’t feel like going to the gym!
How do you and daughter Madison, 7 (with ex, actress Brooke Burns), spend time together?
We hang out at the beach, cook and garden together, go camping.
You love to cook. What have you been whipping up in the kitchen?
We grew a chili pepper garden. I had a cook-off with friends…. We cooked [dishes with hot jalapeños]. We sat there eating, sweating like pigs. I don’t know if I won, ’cause I was sweating for, like, three hours.