The Fix

Britney takes vow of silence. Jackson broke, not bankrupt.

By Salon Staff
Published March 14, 2005 1:53PM (EST)

Turn On:
It was only a matter of time ... Fabio stars in a new reality TV show, "Mr. Romance" (10 p.m. EST, Oxygen), in which he oversees a dozen men as they buff up their bodies and their romantic moves in hopes of becoming the next Harlequin romance cover boy. And if that's not enough to both repulse and intrigue you, consider too that Gene Simmons and Fred Willard are also involved in the show.

Morning Briefing:
Britney muzzles herself: Has Britney Spears bared too much? The pop star is taking a vow of silence after reading over a cover story in Allure in which she discussed her split with Justin Timberlake, her Vegas wedding to Jason Alexander, her post-honeymoon pudge and the rocky beginning of her current marriage to Kevin Federline. "We hit a little bit of reality, hardcore, after the first three weeks. But we handled it fine, and now things are starting to go really smooth," Spears told Allure. "Before we got married we were on tour, and we were just like kids, ordering room service, saying, 'Lets go out tonight.' Then, all of a sudden, you have this home, you have the kids [Federline's two children from a previous relationship], you have to get the diapers, get the dog to the vet. It's this reality. Like omigod, I have to tell the maid to buy diapers and get the pool boy to walk the dog? Can't I just make out with Kevin all the time? Being married sucks." Writing on her Web site, Spears says, "I feel the article focused too much on my personal life and various events from my past. I've already dealt with these issues with the support of my family & friends and have fully moved on. In the future, I will refrain from discussing my private life in interviews." (The Scoop, MTV News Online)

Jackson finances, not so bad: Those of you losing sleep over Michael Jackson's shaky finances last week -- which reportedly resulted in some of his Neverland staffers walking off the job after not getting paid for several weeks -- will be relieved to learn that things are not as bad as they may have seemed. Fox News gossip Roger Friedman, who last week reported that Jackson's brush with poverty was behind that dramatic back spasm of his, clarifies that Jackson is "not near bankruptcy. But he is broke." Writes Friedman, "True, Jackson is cash-poor broke right now ... The operating accounts for Neverland are empty. Jackson has had trouble meeting his payroll. He owes local contractors and vendors money in the Los Olivos area. He's well known for not paying bills on time." But, he continues, "A deal awaits him that clears up his $275 million debt to Bank of America, leaves him with a substantial percentage interest in Sony/ATV Music Publishing and frees up collateral of $100 million in cash. The mortgage on Neverland would be removed, and Jackson would have a $7 to $8 million annual income." (Fox News Online)

Also: "American Idol" fan favorite Mario Vasquez has dropped out of the show, withdrawing from the competition "for personal reasons," according to Fox, and has been replaced by recently ousted contestant Nikko Smith. (Variety) ... Rumor has it that Barbra Streisand may be coming out of retirement to tour in England, though "nothing is finalized." (Page Six) ... GQ reports that when Fed chairman Alan Greenspan needs to prepare for a speech, he "heads straight to the bathroom, turns on a large fan to create a blast of white noise that blocks out sound, draws a hot bath, strips off his clothes and settles into the water for at least an hour and sometimes two." (GQ via Rush and Molloy) ... The animated flick "Robots" was the top box office draw this weekend, taking in $36.5 million in three days and bumping "The Pacifier," which took in $18.1 million in its second weekend, into second place. (N.Y. Post) ... Former All-Star pitcher Dwight Gooden was arrested in Florida on Sunday for allegedly punching his ex-wife in the face and is being held without bail on domestic violence battery charges. (Associated Press) ... Rod Stewart proposed to his girlfriend of five years, Penny Lancaster, atop the Eiffel Tower on Wednesday; the couple plans to wed once Stewart's divorce from model Rachel Hunter is finalized. (Knight Ridder Tribune) ... Bono has endorsed Colin Powell for the job of president of the World Bank, saying he believes the former secretary of state "would do an incredible job." (Reuters) ... Christina Applegate has been forced to drop out of the Broadway-bound musical "Sweet Charity" after breaking her right foot during a performance of the musical in Chicago on Friday. The show will go on with her understudy in the lead role for "a month and a half, maybe two months." (Chicago Tribune) ... Former NYPD top dog Bernard Kerik is under fire for accepting a reported $75,954.52 in royalty fees for his contribution to a book that was published to raise money for the families of policemen and firefighters killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (N.Y. Daily News) ... The FBI has ended its recent 18-month-long investigation into the 1997 murder of Notorious B.I.G. (Los Angeles Times via MTV News) ... UPN is developing a pilot for a series inspired by the early life of Chris Rock called "Everybody Hates Chris." (Reuters/Hollywood Reporter) ... "Sideways" director Alexander Payne and actress Sandra Oh, who co-starred in the film, have announced their plans to split after two years of marriage. (People magazine via Associated Press)

Money Quotes:
Bono on the first thing Bill Clinton said to him when he met him in the White House: "I can't remember ... 'Have a cigar' ... probably." (Michka Assayas' book "Bono in Conversation" via Page Six)

Michael Mann on the stars he's set to direct in a big-screen version of "Miami Vice," Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx: " "I need a budget item for a bail bondsman -- for both of them." (Rush and Molloy)

-- Amy Reiter

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