Britney Spears lost a bid to regain custody of her two young sons on Wednesday as a judge ordered the children to stay in the sole care of her ex-husband but granted the troubled pop star monitored-visitation rights.
Adding to the media frenzy surrounding the high-profile custody fight, television therapist Dr. Phil McGraw said through a spokesman “he would be prepared to offer whatever help he could provide” to the couple.
But the spokesman, Louis DiCenzo, declined to say whether McGraw had reached out directly to Spears or her representatives as her legal troubles continued to mount.
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon rejected Spears request to lift a court order from Monday giving former spouse Kevin Federline sole custody of their sons, Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, whose care the couple previously shared.
Two weeks ago, Gordon ordered Spears to undergo random drug testing and hire a parenting coach after finding evidence of her “habitual, frequent and continuous use of controlled substances and alcohol.”
Federline’s lawyer, Mark Vincent Kaplan, told reporters after the three-hour, closed-door hearing on Wednesday that the judge granted Spears visitation subject to certain conditions.
He did not elaborate. But court spokesman Allan Parachini said Spears’ visitation had to be monitored and would likely take place every other day.
Gordon set another hearing for October 26 to review the situation and possibly revise his order. Both Federline and Spears are required to attend.
Federline, wearing sunglasses over an eye patch, attended Wednesday’s hearing, slipping into and out of the courthouse without speaking to throngs of reporters gathered outside. Spears was not present, and her lawyer declined comment.
Spears’ custody battle caps a tumultuous year in the singer’s personal life as she struggles to rejuvenate her recording career.
Since her split from Federline last November, Spears has drawn a steady stream of headlines for erratic behavior that has included club-hopping without panties, shaving her head bald, raging at a car with an umbrella and checking into and out of rehab.
Last month, her highly anticipated comeback appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards was widely panned as an embarrassing flop, though her new single, “Gimme More,” has climbed to the top of the digital download charts.
Spears, 25, and Federline, 29, divorced in July after nearly three years of marriage, and before this week had shared 50/50 custody of their children. But Kaplan told reporters in August that Federline was seeking greater control of his sons to keep them “isolated from risks.”
Adding to her legal woes, she was charged days later with leaving the scene of an accident and driving without a valid license after police said she smashed into another car in a parking lot.
Spears’ lawyer, Sorrell Trope, was quoted by People magazine this week as saying the judge revoked the singer’s custody based in part on Federline’s claims that she had failed to comply with requirements regarding drug and alcohol tests.
SEX TAPE SCANDAL
Britney Spears’ week just got worse with a man she met in Hawaii alleging that she is the star of a sex tape in his possession.
The 28-year old unnamed man says that the only reason he did not release the tape earlier was because he had not been impressed by his own performance.
“It was just normal sex, we didn’t do anything crazy,” the Daily Mail quoted him, as telling a US publication.
“It was a little disappointing. It lasted for about 25 minutes,” he added.
The man alleges that the tape was made when he met the singer on holiday in June.
However, he also admits that Britney had no idea that she was being taped.
BRITNEY TOPS DOWNLOAD CHART
In the midst of a court fight for custody of her children, pop star Britney Spears topped the digital songs charts on Wednesday as her new single, “Gimme More,” posted 179,000 U.S. downloads for its first week in release.
The first track from Spears’ forthcoming album stole the top spot away from teen rapper Soulja Boy’s megahit “Crank That,” which had spent most of the past 12 weeks at No. 1 on Nielsen SoundScan’s digital songs chart.
“Gimme More” also shot to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, Spears’ highest ranking there since her debut single, “… Baby One More Time,” peaked at No. 1 in 1999. The Hot 100 is based on radio airplay, downloads and Internet streaming.
Spears’ latest song was issued for digital downloads on Sept. 25 after nearly three weeks of airplay and was lodged at No. 68 on the Hot 100 chart the week before its commercial release.
Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” remained at the top of the Hot 100 for the week ending Sept. 30, followed at No. 2 by the Kanye West hit “Stronger,” Billboard said.
Spears’ chart success follows a tumultuous year in the singer’s personal life as she struggles to rejuvenate her recording career.
TATUM O’NEAL OFFERS ADVICE
From one child star to another: Tatum O’Neal says Britney Spears needs to be in recovery and get her disease of addiction together so she can address being a mother.
The 43-year-old actress shared her thoughts on the troubled pop star with “Entertainment Tonight” in an interview set to air Wednesday night.
“I relate to her and feel really sad for her,” O’Neal said, adding that she had similar experiences as a young mother. “I did everything … that she doesn’t want to do. I did the drug testing. … It was very humbling. … I wanted those kids in my life.”
This week a judge ordered Spears, 25, to temporarily surrender custody of her sons, Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, to ex-husband Kevin Federline. She was also ordered to undergo random drug and alcohol testing and take parenting classes as part of her ongoing custody dispute with Federline.
Spears needs treatment and she needs to shield her children from media attention, O’Neal said.
O’Neal won an Oscar at age 10 after co-starring with her father, Ryan O’Neal, in “Paper Moon” in 1973.
She has three children from her marriage to John McEnroe.