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The studio audience couldn’t wait to erupt into a roar of applause when Donald Trump introduced Bret Michaels at the May 23 Celebrity Apprentice finale. As fans cheered and leapt to their feet, the rocker-who a month earlier had suffered a brain hemorrhage-walked out, tapping both fists on his chest. “I felt that ovation in my stomach and my soul,” says Michaels, named Trump’s winner shortly afterward.
Though triumphant, Michaels’ entrance was painful: He limped from twice-daily injections of blood thinners he was taking just to make it from Arizona to New York City. A week earlier, he suffered a small “warning stroke,” likely due to a clot traveling to a hole in his heart. While both conditions are treatable and are not thought to be connected to his hemorrhage, his doctors strongly advised him to stay home. “Getting on the plane was not the smartest thing I’ve ever done,” says Michaels, 47, who talked his medical team into giving him a strict regimen to follow so he could travel. “But I took every precaution.”
Michaels hopes to return to the stage on May 28 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Biloxi, Miss. “I’m usually an animal onstage, but I think my fans will understand if I’m slower,” he says. “I’m just not there yet.” Some loved ones think it’s too soon. “It worries me,” says Kristi Gibson, his girlfriend and mother of his daughters Raine, 10, and Jorja, 5. “But he says, ‘If God takes me, then God takes me. I’m going to live my life.'”
JOE JONAS & DEMI LOVATO
Two months ago Demi Lovato gushed over her new boyfriend, Joe Jonas. “He’s my best friend and he’s incredible,” Lovato, 17, said at the time. Now she’s singing a different tune. “Things didn’t work out but we’ll remain friends,” she tweeted on May 24. Meanwhile, Jonas, 20, explained his side in an exclusive statement to Scoop: “[We] knew going into our romantic relationship that it may not be an easy one…. It was my choice to break up, but I love her as a friend.”
Melissa Etheridge’s Ex Lashes Out
OUR SPLIT WASN’T MUTUAL!
Melissa Etheridge’s ex, the former Tammy Lynn Michaels, is telling her side of the story following their split late last year-and she’s saying it wasn’t as amicable as people think. “I did not go anywhere, honey. And you and I both know it,” Tammy blogged May 20, after Melissa recently told Oprah Winfrey that their breakup after nearly nine years together was “as mutual as those things can be.” But Tammy says she felt “sideswiped and left mangled.” She also admitted that she’s not over the rocker: “I still love that damn woman so much.”
In spite of the media maelstrom surrounding his marital infidelities, Jesse James is focusing on his children, Chandler, 15, Jesse Jr., 12, and Sunny, 6. After putting on the market the L.A. home he and ex Sandra Bullock, 45, shared, James, 41, is looking for a place nearby, “so his kids can stay at their old schools,” says a source. “His goal is to change their living situation into a more positive [one] without changing their daily schedule.”
JOHN & KELLY’S BABY GLOW
Sixteen months after the tragic death of their 16-year-old son Jett, John Travolta and Kelly Preston have reason to celebrate: They’re expecting! While her half brother Chris Palzis tells Scoop that Preston, 47, is “over the moon,” a Florida friend says Travolta, 56, is “ecstatic. You hear about women glowing, but John’s the one glowing right now. It’s like the old John is back.”
BRISTOL PALIN’S TEA PARTY!
In the June/July issue of Harper’s Bazaar, Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol, 19, opens up about the moment she told her mom she was pregnant: “She was like, ‘Oh my God. Holy crap.’ ” Of her 17-month-old son Tripp’s dad, Levi Johnston, she says, “He is a stranger to me.” As for her future as a single parent: “I know I’ll be a hockey mom.”
Real Housewives‘ Kelly Bensimon
I HAD A ‘NERVOUS BREAKTHROUGH!’
She’s cranky-not crazy. Kelly Bensimon had an emotional outburst during the The Real Housewives of New York City‘s May 20 episode, but she says it wasn’t the result of any mental instability, as some have speculated. “It wasn’t a nervous breakdown-it was a nervous breakthrough,” Bensimon tells Scoop of the now famous scene, shot in the Virgin Islands, during which she breaks down on air, claims fellow Housewife Bethenny Frankel is trying to “kill” her and that Alex McCord was “channeling the devil.” Adds Bensimon: “I’m not a combative person, but to be constantly berated … eventually you snap.”
Move over, film festival, there was another star-studded event in Cannes-amfAR held its 17th Annual Cinema Against AIDS Gala May 20, where Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony and cohosts Elizabeth Banks and Emily Blunt helped raise $6.7 million for AIDS research. Held at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, guests like Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams were treated to a performance by Mary J. Blige and a live auction. A day with Bill Clinton went for $220,000 each to two bidders!
CAUGHT IN THE ACT
• 5/20, N.Y.C.: Beyonce Knowles, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Jay-Z and Will Smith celebrated FELA!‘s Tony Award noms.
• 5/22, L.A.: Mario Lopez and expecting girlfriend Courtney Mazza hit SVEDKA’s R.U. Bot or Not? Battle of the Bots event.
• 5/22, Las Vegas: Rebecca Mader hosted a Lost series-finale party at Lavo.
• 5/22, Las Vegas: Wilmer Valderrama slathered himself with Lancaster sunscreen while chatting up female partygoers at the Carrera Summer Escape at Tao Beach.