With an ocean between her and L.A.’s hottest clubs, Ashlee Simpson rang in the new year with her own personal scenesters: her boyfriend bandmate Braxton Olita and a few choice pals in Maui. Simpson counted down the last seconds of 2005 with her nearest and dearest on the patio of their two-story villa (which fetches from $2,500 to $3,500 a night) at the Fairmont Kea Lani hotel, and at the stroke of midnight, she smooched Olita as fireworks burst off. “Ashlee looks like she’s fallen hard for Braxton,” says one observer. “They seem so happy and into one another.”
The previous day, Simpson – who had collapsed at a Tokyo concert just two weeks earlier – and her entourage lounged poolside, drinking Coronas and Red Bulls. They then strolled on the beach and climbed black rocks while she and her guitarist beau cuddled and posed for pictures for friends. “This was exactly the kind of low-key vacation that Ashlee needed,” a source tells us. “Total R&R, fun with friends, a new man. She looked really happy and healthy.”
Mom’s Night Out
Britney Spears recently enjoyed a grownups’ night out – without son Sean Preston, who turns 4 months old on Jan. 14 – with friends at Ma’kai, a Pan-Asian restaurant in Santa Monica. The new mom and about 12 friends had a “pretty mellow” evening, but Spears still showed off her moves on the small but packed dance floor. The pop diva even chatted with the deejay – but no word on whether she requested husband Kevin Federline’s new rap single “PopoZão.”
Caught in the Act: New Year’s Eve
• Haylie Duff, shouting, “Everybody is making out!” as the clock struck midnight at a Hollywood Hills party hosted by Eddy, Lucas and Anouar Productions. Among the kissing: Hilary Duff and boyfriend Joel Madden
• Kelly Clarkson (right), partying with 16 friends at the Ghost Bar at The Palms Hotel in Las Vegas.
• Kid Rock, in Las Vegas, counting down to midnight at the Jet club in the Mirage hotel. Rock then spun records for more than an hour.
• By SHARI ORNSTEIN, MARGI BLASH and AMY ELISA KEITH