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THE BATTLE OVER HIS DAUGHTER’S FUTURE
AFTER TWO WEEKS OF BEHIND-CLOSED-DOORS negotiations, the fate of the person most affected by Paul Walker’s passing – his daughter Meadow, 15 – is nearing its hopefully happy conclusion. According to a source, Meadow’s mother, Walker’s ex-girlfriend Rebecca Soteros, and his mother, Cheryl Ann Walker, have reached a custody agreement that will allow the teen to eventually live with Soteros full-time.
Meadow’s future seemed to be in limbo on March 18 when Cheryl Ann, 60, filed papers seeking guardianship over Meadow and the nearly $25 million estate she inherited after Walker’s death in a car crash on Nov. 30. Embedded within the 29 pages was Cheryl Ann’s depiction of Soteros, 40. “The mother has a drinking problem,” the papers said, noting that Meadow and Soteros live with Cheryl Ann. (Soteros, who had DUI arrests in 2003 and 2013, did not respond to requests for comment and is expected at a criminal hearing May 2 in Hawaii.)
Fortunately that all seems to be water under the bridge. After an initial court hearing March 27, Cheryl Ann’s attorney Bela G. Lugosi asked the judge to postpone the matter, telling PEOPLE that the parties were discussing an agreement. The terms: Soteros can remain Meadow’s guardian if she first completes treatment at a rehabilitation facility, according to the source. (The source adds that the teen expressed desire to be with her mom.) Thankfully it appears Meadow won’t have to choose between the two women in her life. “These cases can go on for months,” says L.A. estate lawyer Andrew Katzenstein. “But [the quick settlement] is a sign that they get along and will continue to. And that’s what Meadow really wants.”
While Soteros (in her August 2013 mug shot) is in rehab, Walker’s mother, Cheryl Ann, will watch over Meadow.
KERI RUSSELL & MATTHEW RHYS
Their Undercover Romance
If there’s one thing playing a superspy on TV teaches you, it’s how to keep a secret. The Americans‘ costars Keri Russell (who split from husband Shane Deary last year), 38, and Matthew Rhys, 39, have dodged dating rumors for months. But after a cozy outing (lots of hair touching and whispering!) at the Public Theater in New York City on March 27, PEOPLE confirms they are an item. Adds a neighbor: “They look like a happy couple.”
KESHA’S POST-REHAB LIFE
‘SHE’S DOING REALLY WELL’
AFTER SMILING, WAVING AND ROCKING A GORGEOUS GOWN on the red carpet March 29, Kesha headed backstage for some quality time with a new friend: a puppy. “She was rubbing his belly, laughing and joking around with her friends,” a source tells PEOPLE. The bubbly outing at the 60th-anniversary benefit gala for the Humane Society of the United States (she is a global ambassador for the organization) was her first public appearance since her release in early March from a rehab center where she got treatment for eating disorders. “She’s doing really well,” says a close pal. “She is at peace with herself.” This newfound confidence has been hard-won: According to multiple sources, the “Timber” singer, 27, suffered from anorexia and bulimia and was pressured to lose weight by those in control of her career. Though she had to postpone her tour while she was in treatment, Kesha has been working on new music. She’s also reveling in the new life she built away from the spotlight. “She has eliminated all of the negative people and influences in her life and has surrounded herself with only supportive and loving friends and family,” adds the close pal. “She has found her inner strength and focus again.”
MUST-SEE REALITY TV
WOULD YOU FALL FOR THIS (FAKE) PRINCE?
IT ALL CAME DOWN TO THIS.
After weeks of preparation, Matt Hicks was about to attempt the biggest con of his life: convincing a dozen American women that he was Prince Harry and they were on a reality dating show to win his heart. “I was terrified,” Hicks says of meeting his prospective paramours for the first time on FOX’s deliciously outrageous new show I Wanna Marry "Harry" (premiering May 27). “Every single one of us had our hearts in our mouths as he first revealed himself,” adds executive producer David Tibbals, who admits he was shocked to watch the contestants fall for the royal stand-in. “It was an absolutely spectacular moment.”
Like the real Harry – to whom he bears a passing resemblance – Hicks loves cricket and has an older brother. But the similarities between the environmental consultant, 24, and the royal redhead, 29, end there. “I had never even ridden a horse before,” Hicks, who was raised an hour north of London, tells PEOPLE. To better play Harry, he underwent training sessions that included skeet shooting, fencing, etiquette, history lessons and ballroom dancing. “They say I have rhythm, but I’m inclined to disagree,” he jokes.
While the true fourth-in-line to the throne was busy with his princely duties last fall (see box), Hicks – who was recruited by the show’s producers based on his profile on a celebrity lookalike website – set about looking for love among the Harry hunters. “The challenge was to get the girls to like me for who I am, but I could only share Harry’s experiences,” says Hicks. At first, “everything was just fun and flirty,” but he says developing feelings for the women complicated things. “It is hard dating someone and not revealing yourself,” he admits. “I felt guilty for deceiving them. Lying is not a very nice thing to do.”
Of course it wasn’t the first time that reality contestants fell for such a ruse. Over 40 million people tuned in to watch Zora Andrich (who now goes by Zora Sabrina) fall for the supposedly wealthy Evan Marriott on Joe Millionaire in 2003 (see sidebar). “They went through great lengths to ensure we were deceived,” Sabrina, 41, says, noting that during the show’s shoot, producers even staged faux “emergency” financial meetings for Marriott, a construction worker in real life, to bolster the story that he was worth $50 million.
Pretending the show’s star is a much-loved, often-photographed public figure takes it to a whole other level. “It was a grand illusion, and every single girl reacted differently,” Tibbals says of Harry’s contestants. “There was sort of a detective story amongst them. Some girls tried to persuade the others that Matt might not be Harry. But after a little bit of time in that bubble, the ones that were skeptical began to believe.” To help keep up the charade, the show’s “castle” (Englefield House in Berkshire) was staffed with professional servants and a security detail with experience protecting heads of state, all of whom were instructed to always treat Hicks as the prince he was pretending to be. “I felt very lonely, because I couldn’t communicate at all with the crew,” says Hicks. “I broke a few of those rules now and again. It would have gotten quite boring otherwise.”
As for the real Prince Harry? “He is sure to be highly amused about the show,” says Marcia Moody, author of Harry: A Biography. “He enjoys playing tricks himself.” And with oddsmakers increasingly wondering if he and girlfriend Cressida Bonas are headed to the altar, Britain’s most eligible bachelor may enjoy having his imposter take a little of the heat off.
Where Was the Real Prince?
While the reality show filmed in Berkshire, Harry attended the WellChild Awards in London.
Duty called at the wedding of James Meade and Lady Laura Marsham.
No etiquette lessons for him. Instead the real Prince Harry spent time training for November’s race to the South Pole.
THE ORIGINAL FAKE PRINCE:
“I never felt bothered by the premise of the show,” says Zora Sabrina, who won the heart of Evan Marriott in 2003 – and split a $1 million prize after she didn’t dump him upon learning he wasn’t really rich. They briefly dated, but these days the N.J.-based yoga instructor and foster parent is happily in a relationship and enjoying life with daughter Zarina, 9.
BOLD BROADWAY ROLES!
MICHELLE WILLIAMS AS A NAZI-ERA CROONER? NEIL PATRICK HARRIS IN HEELS? HERE’S A SNEAK PREVIEW OF THEIR NEW PROJECTS ON THE GREAT WHITE WAY
Michelle Williams in Cabaret
Your table is ready! Michelle Williams, 33, in her Broadway debut, stars as Kit Kat Klub headliner Sally Bowles in the first Broadway revival of Cabaret since 1998. The gloomy musical, set in pre-World War II Berlin, is even “darker and grittier,” says costume designer William Ivey Long, who also worked on the last production. “It’s like a sucker punch.” Staged at the famed disco Studio 54, the new show (opening April 24) makes ample use of its setting. As with the ’98 production, there will be a bar and waiters to serve the audience throughout the show. “We’ve really embraced the club atmosphere,” says Long. “We’ve quadrupled the number of tables, and it looks like the actors are serving you drinks. As an audience member, you’re part of the story.” As for the A-list leading lady? “Michelle Williams? Give me a break,” adds Long. “She totally reimagined Sally Bowles. Her interpretation is not to be missed.”
Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig and the Angry Inch
A far cry from his womanizing How I Met Your Mother character, Neil Patrick Harris, 40, returns to the stage as a transgender glam rocker. Reimagining the Off-Broadway musical, the show follows title character Hedwig – born a male in Germany – as she shares her tumultuous story of past lovers and a botched sex-change surgery. Harris “put himself out there,” says composer Stephen Trask. “Working with him has been sort of a revelation because he is so incredibly detailed and hardworking and wants to get inside every single word that Hedwig sings or says.” Moving the show (opening April 22) from its humble roots to a massive Broadway stage was a concern, but thankfully Harris “has this ability to reach out and grab everyone in the house,” says Trask. “He can make it feel as intimate as when we were doing it in a small space. People can expect to be unexpectedly moved in kind of extreme ways.”