December 29, 2003 12:00 PM

EXPECTING

Supermodel Heidi Klum, 30, and her boyfriend of nine months, Italian businessman Flavio Briatore, 53, are expecting a baby next year. The couple have no immediate plans to wed. Klum and her husband of five years, celebrity hairstylist Ric Pipino, 45, separated in November 2002….

Actress Leah Remini, 33, who stars in the CBS sitcom King of Queens, and singer-actor Angelo Pagan, 45, are expecting their first child in June. The couple wed last summer after a six-year courtship.

RECUPERATING

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, 77, left a London hospital Dec. 13, one day after undergoing two minor operations, both successful. She had surgery to repair damaged cartilage in her left knee and had three benign facial lesions removed….

Secretary of State Colin Powell, 66, had surgery for prostate cancer on Dec. 15 in Washington, D.C. Powell, who was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, will be on a reduced work schedule for several weeks and is expected to make a full recovery.

UPDATE

On Dec. 10, R&B singer Bobby Brown, 36, was charged with battery, three days after he allegedly hit his wife, singer-actress Whitney Houston, 40, in the face at their Alpharetta, Ga., home (PEOPLE, Dec. 22, 2003). Police who responded to Houston’s 911 call said the star had a bruise on her cheek and a cut lip. A lawyer for Brown did not return calls for comment….

After pleading guilty to drunk driving, Wynonna Judd, 39, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service Dec. 16 in Nashville. The country star was pulled over by police last month after attending a party (PEOPLE, Dec. 1, 2003).

SUED

On Nov. 25 in Manhattan, Ibrahim Duarte, the former tour manager for ‘N Sync, sued Justin Timberlake, 22, and the other four band members for about $10 million, claiming he was dismissed because he is African-American. Duarte also alleges that he was subjected to racial abuse that included belittling remarks and being made to travel in a separate bus. A lawyer for ‘N Sync calls the claims of racism baseless, noting that the band employs several African-Americans.

RECONCILED

On Dec. 15, the family of the late South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond acknowledged the claims of retired teacher Essie Mae Washington-Williams, 78, who recently said she was the politician’s mixed-race daughter. “We hope this will bring closure for Ms. Williams,” said the family’s statement. According to Williams, Thurmond, who died in June at age 100, fathered her when he was 22 and living in his parents’ Edgefield, S.C., home, where her mother, Carrie Butler, 16, was a maid.

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