The Fix

Whoa! Did Britney Spears fake her wedding to throw off the press? Plus: Cat Stevens blocked from entering U.S., David O. Russell and Larry David express alarm over press coverage, and Martha stock shoots up.

Published September 23, 2004 10:21AM (EDT)

Is Britney smarter than any of us think? And is she still single? Us Weekly is reportedly planning a cover story questioning the veracity of Britney Spears' wedding to Kevin Federline this past weekend. "An exclusive document says Spears staged a 'faux wedding'" to throw off the press, the magazine reports. And Matt Drudge points out, "PEOPLE mag wasted 7 figures for 'exclusive photos.'" (Drudge)

Turn On:
Wednesday night sees four big new series debuts: "Lost" (8 p.m. ET, ABC), about a plane that goes down and strands 48 passengers on a creepy island, and "Veronica Mars" (9 p.m. ET, UPN), about a teenage private detective, have both gotten big, big buzz. And there's also "The Mountain" (9 p.m. ET, WB) and the spinoff "C.S.I.: N.Y." (10 p.m. ET, CBS).

Morning Briefing:
Did Kitty take him out of context? Alas, doubt is being cast over Kitty Kelley's claim in her new book, "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty," that Laura Bush "had been known in her college days as a go-to girl for dime bags of marijuana." Robert Nash, who Kelley quoted as saying of the first lady's past, "She not only smoked dope, but she sold dope," now says that the author took his comments -- made, he believed, in an off-the-record chat -- out of context, and that he was merely repeating a rumor, not confirming its veracity. "I acknowledged that I had heard of various old rumors but said that as far as I knew they had been thoroughly explored years ago by the national media to no avail," he said. "Also, I made it perfectly clear that I had no direct information, and that if she was to pursue this she needed to look elsewhere." (N.Y. Times)

Passenger plane, peace train ... The artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, who has for decades gone by the name Yusuf Islam, was denied entry to the U.S. yesterday on "national security grounds." A United Airlines flight he was on from London en route to Washington was diverted to Bangor, Maine, where Islam, a devout Muslim whose name was on a watch list (in 2000, he was prevented entry into Israel, on the grounds that he had donated tens of thousands of dollars -- unwittingly, he claims -- to the militant group Hamas), was escorted off the plane by FBI agents, who questioned him and then sent him back to the U.K. Islam's 21-year-old daughter, with whom he was traveling, was allowed to remain in the U.S. (The Guardian)

One-two punch: The stock of Martha Stewart Omnimedia is on a steep rise following recent rumors that Stewart may be cooking up a reality show idea with Mark Burnett to reinstate her good (or at least law-abiding) image and a judge's decision yesterday that Stewart was to begin serving her five-month prison sentence on Oct. 8. The judge will allow Stewart to serve her sentence at either a minimum-security facility in Danbury, Conn., near one of Stewart's homes, or another in Coleman, Fla. Last week Stewart said, "I hope too that I will be able to begin serving my sentence in the very near future because I would like to be back as early in March as possible in order to plant the spring garden." (Reuters)

Also: In an attempt to lure the modern-day equivalents of Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley in for long, lively literary lunches, New York's Algonquin Hotel is introducing a new Round Table, which, like its predecessor, is actually rectangular and, unlike its predecessor, will be equipped with Wi-Fi technology (N.Y. Daily News) ... Britney Spears and Kevin Federline are reported to have spent the first 48 hours following their "wedding" in bed, possibly working on a baby (London Sun via ... "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" director Russ Meyer has died of complications of pneumonia at age 82 (The Associated Press)

Money Quotes:
"I Heart Huckabees" director David O. Russell on Sharon Waxman's profile of him in Sunday's New York Times, in which she revealed his sometimes fractious relationship with various actors and enjoyed access Russell says he gave her in the belief that she was working on a book, not the Times piece: "I'm hurt. I'm very hurt." (Rush and Molloy)

Larry David on an Architectural Digest feature on his Martha's Vineyard home, which he has complained is too clearly identifiable as his, though he allowed coverage on promise of anonymity: "I want to thank [editor Paige Rens] for providing me a great episode for next season." (Page Six)

-- Amy Reiter

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