October 01, 2007 12:00 PM

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Britney Spears
GIMME MORE TROUBLE

As Spears’s manager and lawyer both exit, the commissioner in her custody case orders the pop star to undergo parenting counseling and drug testing

And you thought her VMA reviews were harsh. On a day when her lawyer Laura Wasser and manager Jeff Kwatinetz both quit, Britney Spears was told by an L.A. court that she needs to learn how to be a better mother. Superior court commissioner Scott Gordon ruled on Sept. 17 that the 50-50 custody deal between the singer, 25, and Kevin Federline, 29, for sons Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, would remain for now, but Spears must get counseling for “parenting issues,” meet with a parenting coach and, because of “habitual, frequent and continuous use” of drugs and alcohol, submit to random drug testing. (Before the hearing, a former bodyguard attested to the court about, says his lawyer, “nudity, drug use and safety issues.”) Gordon also ordered the exes to undergo joint co-parenting counseling and complete a Parenting Without Conflict program. In fact, Federline—who is “pleased” with the ruling, says his lawyer Mark Vincent Kaplan—personally dropped off the kids at Spears’s new home in Malibu on Sept. 14 and stayed for an hour. “Britney doesn’t accept that she has problems being a mom,” says a source. “Everyone is hoping [this is] going to help.”

Owen Wilson
LONG ROAD TO RECOVERY

Life still may not be a beach, but Owen Wilson made time for some sun and surf as he continued to regain his footing after his Aug. 26 hospitalization. In a week filled with visits from friends and a few solo outings, Wilson, 38, hit Venice Beach on Sept. 13 for a swim with his brother Andrew, 43. “At one point he closed his eyes and put his head up to the sky,” says an observer. “It was a peaceful moment.” Wilson’s rep wouldn’t comment on his next career move or reports that he has a paid “sober companion,” but pals like Charlie Sheen are optimistic about his prognosis. “He’s a lovely, brilliant young man, and he knows where to find a solution,” says Sheen, Wilson’s costar in ’04’s The Big Bounce. “I know that he’ll recover in spades.”

FROM THE DESK OF Vanessa Williams

TO: VANESSA HUDGENS

BEEN THERE, HONEY!

Once upon a time, Vanessa Williams was a beauty queen dethroned over a scandalous set of pictures (she lost her Miss America title in 1984). But just look at the Ugly Betty star now. Can Vanessa Hudgens, currently beset by her own naughty picture scandal, follow in her footsteps? According to Williams, Hudgens will survive—and thrive. “I’ve seen High School Musical 2 a zillion times because of my kids … and she’ll be fine,” Williams told PEOPLE. “Welcome to the lesson of hard knocks—she got her first big one right now.” Hudgens, who skipped out on a Tonight Show spot last week, has been lying low in L.A. with boyfriend Zac Efron, and Disney continues to stand by the star.

Mary-Louise Parker

BABY NEWS

Weeds’ Mary-Louise Parker may not have won the Emmy she was up for this year, but she has received one precious bundle: a daughter, recently adopted from Africa. (A rep for Parker—who already has a 3-year-old son, William, with ex Billy Crudup—didn’t give any more information.) Says Brad Pitt, Parker’s costar in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: “She’s a really lovely mother.”

Cars and Stars

STALLED

Were this a twee British film, it might be called Three Flats and a Jump-Start. Instead, it’s just Matthew McConaughey and Rachel Bilson adding a blast of air pressure to their needy tires while Kate Moss awaits help. Adrian Grenier, meanwhile, gets ready to jolt his Prius.

Prince Harry
HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Prince Harry opted for a sedate dinner and a less-than-sedate trip to the pub to celebrate his 23rd birthday on Sept. 15, according to Britain’s Daily Mirror. Harry, longtime girlfriend Chelsy Davy, 21, brother William and his on-again girlfriend Kate Middleton, both 25, dined at Highgrove, Prince Charles’s country mansion. Afterward, the quartet visited the Vine Tree pub, where, one source says, drinks and quips flowed. Davy, who is undertaking a postgrad degree at the University of Leeds, “lights up a room when she is around. She is a ball of fun,” says a friend.

CLASS ACTS

UCLA’s student body just got more glamorous. Shakira has been enrolled in Introduction to Western Civilization, while James Franco’s rep confirms the actor is there majoring in creative writing. Prof. Robert Cleve said he did not know Shakira was a celeb, telling the Associated Press that he enjoyed their after-class chats, adding, “I was impressed with how intelligent she was.”

Heart MONITOR

Heath Ledger

ON THE TOWN

Michelle Williams stuck close to Brooklyn and daughter Matilda, 23 months, last week, while a truck—belonging, ironically, to Celebrity Movers—sat outside her door. Meanwhile her ex, Heath Ledger, took Manhattan by storm with model Helena Christensen and a bunch of his Aussie buddies. “He was chatting with quite a lot of people,” says an observer. As for Christensen and Ledger? “They’re not a couple. They’ve been friends for a long time,” says a source. The group eventually made their way to an afterparty for the film Eastern Promises.

Scarlett Johansson & Ryan Reynolds

GOING HOME

Looks like Ryan Reynolds enjoyed bringing his lady love, Scarlett Johansson, to his hometown last week. The couple dined at the Vancouver restaurant West, ordering a multicourse meal and speaking over candlelight. “Scarlett radiated joy,” said one observer. The two hit Havana Restaurant a few days later. The couple returned to L.A. on Sept. 17, holding hands as they strolled through LAX. That’s one way to beat jet lag.

TV STARS IN LOVE?

EMILY VANCAMP & DAVE ANNABLE

Philadelphia may be the city of brotherly love, but can the set of Brothers & Sisters be called the home of half-brotherly love—now that Annable and VanCamp, who play half-siblings on the show, were spotted holding hands at a TV Guide party?

HAYDEN PANETTIERE & MILO VENTIMIGLIA

After the Emmys, Heroes Ventimiglia and Panettiere were side-by-side at the Governors Ball. Just like they were the night before at a pre-Emmy party. He would not define the relationship. Reps say they are friends.

Q&A

Dane Cook

From Jessicas to Kate, Hollywood actresses love costarring with this funnyman

Standup-comic-turned-actor Dane Cook, 35, stars with Jessica Alba in Good Luck Chuck. He talks with PEOPLE’s Ryan Pienciak about his costars and the real reason he’s so popular with the leading ladies.

What was it like working with Jessica Alba?

I saw Jessica when she hosted the MTV Movie Awards. I called my agent right away from the audience and said, “She’s got [the role] if she wants it.” I thought she was hilarious and handled physical comedy very naturally.

How was the chemistry?

The 10 seconds before action we’re completely just goofing off, and she would beat the hell out of me! Before every take, there was poking, kicking, biting, every kind of lick or wet willy or whatever you could imagine.

You’ve starred with Jessica Simpson and Jessica Alba

It’s funny ’cause I did [the movie] London with Jessica Biel before Employee of the Month. I already did the Jessica hat trick. I’m on to Kates [Hudson, in Bachelor No. 2].

How did you get so comfortable around women?

I have five sisters, and we’d wind up watching Steel Magnolias. I knew every line, the whole [cemetery] speech with Sally Field. I’ve got a soft spot for the Steel Magnolias.

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