Singer Ashlee Simpson, 30, and husband Evan Ross, 26, are having a baby girl, Simpson told PEOPLE exclusively on Feb. 5. Simpson said she decided to learn the baby’s gender because “I want to do the nursery.” • Hart of Dixie’s Scott Porter, 35, and wife Kelsey Mayfield are expecting their first child this summer, his rep confirmed on Feb. 3. • The Today Show‘s Jenna Wolfe, 40, welcomed a baby girl with partner and NBC foreign correspondent Stephanie Gosk, 42, on Feb. 4. Quinn Lily joins big sister Harper Estelle, 17 months. • Singer Sophie B. Hawkins, 50, is pregnant with her second child, People confirmed on Feb. 6. The baby girl – conceived using embryos Hawkins froze when she was 31 – is due in July.
Actress and model Riley Keough, 25, married Australian stuntman Ben Smith-Petersen on Feb. 4. Keough, who is Elvis Presley’s granddaughter (and daughter of Lisa Marie Presley), announced her engagement in August.
Former Cheetah Girls lead singer Adrienne Bailon, 31, is engaged to Roc Nation music executive Lenny Santiago, 40. “It just feels so surreal to have found my soulmate,” she told PEOPLE exclusively on Feb. 5. • Orange Is the New Black‘s Lea DeLaria, 56, announced her engagement to fashion editor Chelsea Fairless via Facebook on Feb. 6. • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon actress Zhang Ziyi, 36, received quite a gift while celebrating her Feb. 9 birthday. Her boyfriend, musician Wang Feng, 43, popped the question by sending her a drone carrying a diamond ring.
On Feb. 6 the Maryland Court of Special Appeals granted Adnan Syed, 33, his request to appeal his murder conviction. Syed, whose case has been detailed in the popular Serial podcast, is currently serving a life sentence for the 1999 death of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. The appeal allows Syed to file briefings in an attempt to be granted a new trial. • Drew Peterson – who is currently serving a 38-year sentence for killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio – has been charged with allegedly attempting to hire a hit man to kill James Glasgow, the lead prosecutor in his 2012 murder trial. (Peterson, 61, is also a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, whose body was never found.)
Legendary University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith died on Feb. 7 at age 83. A Hall of Fame coach and civil rights activist, Smith served the team for 36 years, helping to earn two national championships and 879 wins, the fourth highest total among major college men’s basketball coaches.
Bobbi Kristina Brown’s Family: We’re Praying for a ‘Miracle’
Bobbi Kristina Brown – the 21-year-old only daughter of Bobby Brown and the late Whitney Houston – remained on life support at press time, with “no change” in her condition since Jan. 31, when she was found facedown in a bathtub in her Roswell, Ga., home. “We are hoping that God will see fit to perform a miracle in her,” a family member told PEOPLE on Feb. 8, the day before a candlelight prayer vigil was held in Riverdale, Ga. At the same time, authorities have launched a full-fledged investigation into the events that eerily parallel Houston’s death on Feb. 11, 2012. “Foul play is being investigated,” says a source, “including drug use and [a] possible cover-up to remove evidence from the crime scene.” Brown was discovered by her boyfriend, Nick Gordon – whom she erroneously referred to as her “husband” – and a friend, Max Lomas. Roswell Police Chief Rusty Grant told PEOPLE that the department is “going to follow the evidence and see where it leads us.”
Harper Lee’s Second Novel Sparks Debate
It’s been 55 years since To Kill a Mockingbird. So why is her publisher printing a sequel now?
Longtime Harper Lee fans were shocked Feb. 3 when her publisher announced plans to release Go Set a Watchman, the sequel to her beloved 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Despite much excitement, some worry that the famously reclusive author’s health is failing – and question the timing of the announcement, which came just three months after the death of the author’s sister Alice Lee, who was notoriously devoted to safeguarding Lee’s legacy. “I’m alive and kicking and happy as hell with the reactions to Watchman,” Lee insisted in a statement. The sequel – which is set 20 years after the action in Mockingbird– is slated to hit shelves July 14.
Why I Care
PERSONAL STORIES ABOUT GIVING BACK
The Desperate Housewives star, 50, and her daughter raise funds for education
My daughter Emerson is now 17 and a junior in high school, so last summer we did a trip across the country looking at colleges. Emerson came up with the idea to raise money for the Fulfillment Fund – a nonprofit that helps students from low-income communities get into college – by blogging about it [and encouraging donations on her site reachandsafe.com]. The fund offers mentoring and help with college applications and testing as well as college tours. We met some of the mentors, and it is so inspiring that many are graduates of the program and have come back to help out. Education opens the door to everything. And I’m proud of Emerson – one of the most important things is to make sure your child understands compassion and generosity.
For more information, go to fulfillment.org