November 10, 2008 12:00 PM

If Madonna ever needed a laugh, it’s right about now. Which may be why just six days after announcing she and Guy Ritchie were divorcing, she helicoptered to East Hampton, N.Y., with her sons to visit Jerry Seinfeld. He even picked them up at the airport. “He’s been friends with Madonna for a very long time,” says Seinfeld’s rep. “They go to her concerts; she comes over for lunch.”

Whether Seinfeld was the only draw is unclear: Alex Rodriguez—who a source says has a “spiritual and emotional” relationship with Madonna—also flew to East Hampton earlier that morning. (Another possible coincidence? Sources say Madonna, 50, was in Miami Oct. 17—the same week the Yankees slugger was there visiting his kids.) What is clear is how much the pop star has been relying on the comic, as well as her manager Guy Oseary and close pals Ingrid Casares and Gwyneth Paltrow, for support. “She calls and e-mails Gwyneth, Ingrid and Guy [Oseary] a lot,” says a Madonna source. “Guy knows everything that’s going on with her.” In fact, he went to Kabbalah services with her in New York City Oct. 24 and 25th; later that Saturday he joined her on a tour stop in Chicago. The pair headed to Japonais for dinner but left soon after being seated. Says an observer: “Madonna appeared to not be in the best of moods.”

In the U.K., where Ritchie is shooting Sherlock Holmes, life seems brighter. One pal—who denies a report the director, 40, cried when he saw a photo of son Rocco, 8, wearing a Yankees tee Oct. 20—says he’s doing “really well. He’s very excited about his film and working hard.” On Oct. 23 a smiling Ritchie even hit the town with his stars Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. “Guy was in great form, having a good time,” one onlooker told PEOPLE. Ritchie has also been frequenting the Punchbowl pub in London, where he co-owns the lease. “He’s there a lot with his close chums,” says an insider.

Still, the couple’s top priority remains their children. Though they have yet to agree on settlement terms, Ritchie hopes to have daily contact with David, 3, and Rocco even if they live in Manhattan with Mom. “Madonna is very strict about a lot of things,” says the Ritchie pal, “and he’s concerned about how that affects the kids. He’s always pushed for them to have as normal a childhood as possible.” In the meantime, nights out with friends have been a welcome relief. “The distraction,” says the onlooker, seemed like “just what he needed.”

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