August 09, 2002 01:50 AM

Britney Spears has decided to take a time-out. “She is taking six months off. She has been working for four years straight and she is taking a break. The girl works harder than anyone in the business and she is taking a break,” Spears’s publicist, Lisa Kasteler, told Reuters. Kasteler went on to add that stories about the pop princess, 20, being so exhausted and broken-hearted over her breakup with Justin Timberlake — to the point that she was reputedly “running home to mom” in Louisiana — were untrue. The announcement comes on the heels of a shaky end to Spears’s world tour. As PEOPLE.com reported last week, Spears got heat for flashing a universally recognized finger sign shortly after she landed at Mexico City’s airport (she later said the finger was meant for annoying paparazzi, not fans). But even stranger, Spears cut short her final performance at Mexico City’s Foro Stadium, blaming rain showers. She was booed by the 52,000-strong crowd, given that she stopped singing midway through her fifth song, “Stronger,” and then left the stage, saying only, “I’m sorry Mexico. I love you. Bye.” (Concert organizers reportedly were forced to offer refunds.) As for Spears’s plans for the six months, Kasteler said, “She is going to read scripts . . . travel, write music and hang out with her family and friends who (sic) she hasn’t been able to spend any real time with for a long time. It is that simple. There is no drama here.”

Check out photos of Britney through the years in our special gallery.

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