Kylie Minogue Still Going On Tour To Promote Her Album, 'X'


Speculation that Kylie Minogue may have cancelled a planned tour because of health concerns has been put to rest with the poppette announcing a European tour next year. The tour, to promote her new album, X, was described by Minogue on her website as "a new and exciting experience for both the audience and myself … After two celebratory tours, X will be a look to the future but will definitely include favourites alongside the new." Starting in Paris on May 6, three weeks before Minogue's 40th birthday, the tour will travel across continental Europe, Scandinavia and Northern Ireland before finishing in London on July 27. The former Neighbours star had to suspend her Showgirl tour in 2005 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but returned last November with the Showgirl Homecoming Tour.
RED CARPET
She may not be getting an award, but our tip is that an Armani-clad Cate Blanchett will be the star attraction at the Australian Film Institute Awards in Melbourne next Thursday. Blanchett has built up a healthy stock of Armani gowns since the designer became a patron of the Sydney Theatre Company. She will be joined on the red carpet by a swag of homegrown celebrities who have hit the big time overseas, such as Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush and Eric Bana, and some who are trying their best, such as Sophie Monk.
TOUGH ART
His paintings of dismembered bodies and friendship with Mark "Chopper" Read have given Adam Cullen a reputation as Australia's angriest young artist. He is now in his 40s, but this week the aging enfant terrible proved he still has that bad boy spark. Stay in Touch had organised an interview with Cullen to get some gossip about his new exhibition, I Am The Cheese, but when we arrived at his Blue Mountains home he was nowhere to be seen. Cullen was, in fact, lying unconscious in the bush after a motorcycle accident somewhere between Katoomba and Wentworth Falls. After about two hours he came to and rode back home on the bike without so much as a stopover at the local doctor's surgery. At the opening of his show at Paddington's Kaliman Gallery last night he was sporting a nasty bruise on his head. We know artists are supposed to suffer, but is Cullen taking it to extremes?

SONGS WITH JAY
He has just finished filming Daybreakers , due for release next year, with Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill and Ethan Hawke, and is also working on a television series with Kerry Amstrong. Today Jay Laga'aia goes back to his bread-and-butter job of entertaining the ankle-biters. The actor best known from his work with Play School and Water Rats, has a new show, Jay's Place, opening today at Sydney Theatre, a stage version of his debut CD, Come Dance & Sing, for which he did all the writing, singing and backing vocals as well as playing instruments from guitar to saxophone, kazoo, ukulele, harmonica and percussion. "I always gauge it on what would my children like to watch, most importantly to play," the father of seven told Stay in Touch.

"But it is very much a theatrical show, so it is also for adults. Like Playschool, the songs are for children but they are written from an adult's point of view." The show plays until December 19.
MORE PROFANE THAN PROFOUND
In further evidence that Sydney's artists appear to have moved from their usual state of charming eccentricity to full-blown insanity, last night the Chalkhorse Gallery in Surry Hills hosted a communal sauna party where visitors were encouraged to get steamy with Renny Kodgers, the camp parody of the country singer Kenny Rogers. The performer behind Kodgers, Mark Shorter, cooked sausages inside the sauna, wearing nothing but a giant prosthetic penis. According to Shorter, the performance was "one of the most generous artistic displays in the history of Australian performance". Naturally. Things are no saner at the Museum of Contemporary Art, where last week there was a dead body on the floor. Or at least a performance artist masquerading as a dead body. The artist was Fiona McGregor, draped in black and tagged like a morgue corpse (pictured). McGregor said her stunt was a protest about the absence of live performance art at the MCA. With offerings like these, who could blame the MCA for steering clear?

ENDNOTES
■ The V Festival, the idea of that middle-aged hipster Richard Branson, will be back next year with a line-up that includes something for every generation. For generation Y the music festival promises the operatic pop sensation Mika and the Sydney electronic duo the Presets. For generation X there is the Smashing Pumpkins, Air and Queens of the Stone Age, and for those nearing a mid-life crisis there is Duran Duran and the recently reformed the Jesus and Mary Chain. The festival begins in Centennial Park on March 29. Tickets go on sale next Thursday.

■ Human Nature better watch their backs. One of the original boybands, the Backstreet Boys, are coming back to Australia as part of a world tour, playing stadium shows in Brisbane and Melbourne and Sydney on February 22. Tickets go on sale on December 11.
THREE QUESTIONS Lara Bingle
Strangest place you've been recognised?

"India. Some people recognised me there and they actually tried to do a version of 'So, where the bloody hell are you?' I don't hear that so much any more. I used to drive around in my car and people would be screaming it at me."

Plans for Christmas?

"I just want to spend as much time with my friends and family as I can … My boyfriend, Michael [Clarke], has a boatshed and I've been working on it for a few months, painting it and turning it into a five-star boatshed. By the time we're finished it will be the best boatshed on the bay."

Star sign?

"Cancer. I do read my stars in the magazines, but my birthday's on the cusp. Some say I'm a Cancer and some say Gemini. But my mum says I'm a Cancer, so that's the one I take."

Tila Tequila AKA Tila Nguyen, Hottest Celebrity On MySpace


As far as unaccomplished celebrities go, Tila Tequila, the most popular person on MySpace, makes Paris Hilton look like a Nobel laureate.

Discovered in a US mall by a Playboy scout eight years ago, Tequila, whose real surname is Nguyen, sits among the new breed of do-it-yourself celebrities who shot to fame using little more than provocative photos and a flashy MySpace page.

She boasts around 2.4 million MySpace "friends" and claims she personally attends to 10,000-20,000 friend requests a day, in between posting blogs and making video diaries.

"It's like being the most popular girl at school," Nguyen said in an interview. "Everywhere I go I get recognised from all my [MySpace] friends because they feel like we're really friends and they're not just like fans. We have this deeper connection."

Named Playboy's first Asian Cyber Girl of the Week, Nguyen, 26, has modelled in all states of undress for Stuff, Maxim, Penthouse and import car magazines.

This week she was in Sydney to promote her new show on MTV, A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. Set to debut in Australia at 5pm on December 18, it's a reality show with a bisexual twist, where 16 lesbian girls and 16 straight men compete for Nguyen's affections. The contestants share the same bed.

"Because they're in that house for a long time and sharing the same bed and that much time together, things tend to happen," she said in an interview.

But Nguyen, who makes no secret of her bisexuality, rejected suggestions it was all sex and no substance. The show was about "real connections with real people".

"There's more competition between the guys and the girls - you know, they do really ridiculous things to win a date with me," she said. "They have to eat like cow penis and testicles and they have to eat eyeballs and, you know, do really silly stuff."

On the back of her internet celebrity Nguyen has also appeared in reality shows including Pants-Off Dance-Off - where contestants stripped to music videos - and self-published songs like F--- Ya Man and Playgirl Central. The latter counts among its lyrics: "I don't want no love, I just wanna get screwed!"

Yet Nguyen, a self-confessed former "cholo gang" member, insists her fame was built using more than just sleaze and titillation. In fact, she sees herself as a role model who is "very passionate about starting new trends and having people follow". "Cholo" refers to Hispanic working-class culture.

She may not be famous for acting, singing or creating art, but "in a new generation with a new breed of celebrity ... I think that's a talent in itself, to be able to communication with people". MySpace is called a "social" networking site, after all, and Nguyen claims to be the first to have used it to build a career.

"I planned it all out - like it wasn't just an accident that sat in my lap and I was like 'woohoo'," she said.

In contrast with traditional celebrities, internet stars like Nguyen tend to engage directly and more frequently with fans. Her MySpace page and personal website, tilashotspot.com, catalogues the ebbs and flows of her life. She said the internet allowed her to advertise her ventures to a global audience.

As Joshua Gamson argues in his book Claims to Fame: Celebrity in Contemporary America, the internet has brought about a shift from celebrities manufactured by record labels and networks to a self-made, hyper-democratic celebrity.

"It's easy to get someone's attention for like a second but you have to keep their attention for years and do interesting things to keep them coming back," Nguyen said.

In the US, where A Shot at Love premiered in October, the show is number 1 in its timeslot among people aged 18 to 34. But despite its 2 million viewers the show has attracted an army of critics.

Ginia Bellafante of The New York Times derided Nguyen as "a very well-toned squirrel", for her "sauced-up arrogance" and said she would rather watch a dating show starring Danny DeVito.

Slate.com's Troy Patterson said the series "would seem to have something for everyone with a taste for the new sleaze, an arena where sexual identity is nothing more or less than brand identity".

Carol Platt Liebau, a political commentator and author of the book Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Hurts Young Women (And America, Too!), said Nguyen had become a sign of the times, where women are celebrated for their "sexiness" as opposed to their character, intelligence or talent.

"Because of the example set by 'celebrities' ranging from Tila Tequila to Paris Hilton (who came to prominence after the release of a sex tape), it seems more difficult to resist the advances of boys interested in nothing more than sex, appropriate to wear revealing clothes, and acceptable to behave in suggestive ways that would have been unthinkable even twenty years ago," she said.

But Nguyen is unapologetic and is quick to lash out at anyone who implies her character is so out of this world it has to be made up. In fact, she says she's "a little more rambunctious in real life".

"Well if it's a fake character then where's my academy award, because I don't think you'd fake something like that for that long and, no matter what they say, the point is they're watching [my show], so that's good for me," she said.

Britney Spears To Spend Christmas With Her Sons.

The singer was reportedly granted custody of two-year-old Sean Preston and 14-month-old Jayden James for Christmas Day during a closed Los Angeles court hearing yesterday, according to TMZ.com.

It is believed the 25-year-old singer was granted custody of the boys by Superior Court Commissioner Scott M. Gordon for the holiday because her ex-husband Kevin Federline, 29, had the boys for Thanksgiving last Thursday.

Britney currently has three weekly visits with her sons, including one overnight stay, all supervised by a court-appointed parenting coach, while Kevin has been awarded temporary full custody.

The couple's next hearing has been scheduled for January 23.

Also discussed at yesterday's hearing, which was attended by Britney's lawyer Anne Kiley and Kevin's attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan, was the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services' request for access to the former couple's case file - in particular documents, which have been sealed.

A lawyer for the county was present in the courtroom, and requested all media be removed before he addressed the court. Neither Britney or Kevin were present.

Meanwhile Kevin has been ranked No. 7 on Details magazine's list of '50 Most Influential Men under 45'. Federline, who appears on the cover of the magazine's annual 'Power & Influence' issue speaks of being a doting dad, saying: "To be a father is ... everything. It shows me how little I am," adding that he has enjoyed watching G-rated programming like SpongeBob SquarePants and Finding Nemo.

"I'm still trying to decide which one I like more," he says.

Britney will today begin filming the music video for her next single Piece of Me from her hit new album Blackout.

The shoot will begin at 8am at Los Angeles restaurant Social Hollywood and will be directed by Wayne Isham, who created the video for her 2002 hit, I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.

A source told Us Weekly magazine: "In the video, Britney and her dancers enter a club in matching wigs and trench coats in order to sneak her in. But once they get in she takes off her disguise, and ends up being followed by the paparazzi anyway."

The insider revealed that as Britney has a scheduled visit with Sean and Jayden today she will only be available to film for two hours, between 12pm and 2pm.

The source added: "She will shoot scenes where she dances on a bar and runs down a staircase."

Britney is set to use a body double for some scenes in the promo.

Melanie Brown And Her Dance Partner, Maksim On 'Dancing With The Stars'


Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and their daughter Suri were treated to a private performance by the Spice Girls at the weekend.

The Cruise family stopped by the girls' Los Angeles rehearsal rooms and watched an exclusive impromptu performance by close friend Victoria Beckham and her bandmates.

The Spice Girls were also on hand to cheer on Mel B at the final of the US version of Dancing With the Stars last night.

The girls looked delighted with Mel's performances, which saw her take on the other remaining contestants, Marie Osmond and Helio Castroneves.

According to People the girls sat in the girls sat in the front row next to Mel B's husband, Stephen Belafonte and hooted and hollered after she finished the cha-cha, which was the first dance of the night.

After the show, Geri Halliwell told People that she was "so proud of Melanie ....We have come as her sisters to support her."

Mel B will find out if her sassy moves were enough to take the title on the results show tonight.

When the Cruise's family stopped by the girls' rehearsal rooms 19-month-old Suri danced around as the band belted out a selection of their greatest hits.

Following the surprise visit, Victoria - who is married to England soccer star David Beckham - said: "David and I are great friends with Tom and Katie. It was lovely of them to come down to rehearsals, a really nice surprise.

"Katie has told me before that she used to be a huge Spice Girls fan, so it was great for her to meet the other girls."

Tom and Katie have worked hard to make David and Victoria feel welcome since they moved to Los Angeles, and even threw them a star-studded 'Welcome to LA' party when they first arrived in the US.

The family moved to the US in the summer after David joined the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team.

Meanwhile, pictures of the girls' nickname-themed dressing rooms have been posted on their official website.

'Scary Spice' Mel B's room is decked out in her trademark leopard print, while 'Sporty' Mel C's personal space comes complete with an iPod sound system for her to practice her signature back flips.

Victoria, also known as 'Posh Spice', shows her unique style with monochrome sofas and interior decorations, while 'Baby Spice' Emma's room is decked out in Pink.

'Ginger Spice' Geri's personal space is full of accessories and toys for her 18-month old daughter Bluebell.

The Spice Girls reunion tour kicks off in Vancouver, Canada on December 2.

Kylie Minogue's Battle With Breast Cancer On Air In Britain

A documentary about Kylie Minogue's battle with breast cancer has gone to air in Britain, showing dramatic footage of the pop star's collapse during a show in Manchester.

Footage from the concert, filmed before her diagnosis, shows a distressed Minogue trying desperately not to cry as she walks the stage trying to make it through one more song.

But the diminutive singer is forced backstage, where she collapses, crying, as her team try to comfort her and cool her as she lies crumpled on the floor.

"I hate to let you all down but I'm just going to do one more song," Minogue, wearing a skin-tight catsuit, tells the audience.

But she simply could not go on.

"I was really weak, dizzy and couldn't sing," she says in the documentary White Diamond: A Personal Portrait of Kylie Minogue, which aired last night on Britain's Channel 4.

"I was hyperventilating and panicking and in tears and then we stopped and there was this gap that seemed like it went forever.

"At the end of the medley I go through the back doors and at the top of the stairs I just sat there and burst into tears with my head in my hands.

"Let alone the tour, everything just collapsed. Everything. The world kinds of stopped spinning."

Footage shows a limp Minogue being carried by a security guard back to her dressing room, eyes closed and her head lying heavily against the man's shoulder.

At the time of the collapse, Minogue did not know she had breast cancer and says she was distressed about feeling so unwell.

"The last time I was really ill on the stage was before I was diagnosed so I had a lot of, kind of, I felt really um pummelled. I was quite tormented in fact."

During the documentary she pays tribute to the support she received from her now ex boyfriend, Paris-born actor Oliver Martinez, after her May 2005 diagnosis.

"Ollie was amazing I have to say, really supportive through Showgirl 1, and was with me when I was diagnosed," she said.

"I have learnt that when the going gets tough, or in a crisis, you learn a lot about people. And I, I can't tell people enough, how amazing he was."

Kylie had since recovered and has launched a comeback with a new album X. Minogue and Martinez split amid media reports that he had been unfaithful.

Rosanna Arquette And Paul McCartney Trying Things Out


Another day, another photographic flame for Paul McCartney? Rosanna Arquette is the latest woman to be photographed with the 65-year-old ex-Beatle. The News of the World published pictures of McCartney and the 48-year-old actress walking together outside of what it said was McCartney's north London home.

The paper's website could not resist highlighting the likeness between Arquette and McCartney's ex-wfie Heather Mills, going so far as to include a picture of Arquette that rolls over to show a similar looking picture of Mills.

The encounter took place last week, the British tabloid said — only a month after McCartney was photographed embracing Nancy Shevell, a New Jersey trucking heiress and member of New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority board.

McCartney's love life has been the subject of intense scrutiny amid his messy, multimillion-dollar divorce from Mills. The rock legend has previously been spotted with Renee Zellweger and Christie Brinkley.

McCartney's spokesman refused to comment on the latest photos. A representative for Arquette could not immediately be located.

Pavarotti's Widow Sues His friends for $50m


The widow of opera star Luciano Pavarotti has sued two friends of the late tenor for 30 million euro ($50 million), claiming their comments about her marriage were defamatory, her lawyer said.

Nicoletta Mantovani filed the lawsuit last month after warning that speculation about the state of her marriage to Pavarotti would not be tolerated, her lawyer said.

Pavarotti died on September 6 of pancreatic cancer at age 71. Soon after, friends close to the tenor told Italian media he had been unhappy in the marriage, and Mantovani was fighting his grown daughters from an earlier marriage over his estate.

"Since the comments did not cease - and were, in fact, reiterated - Mantovani had no choice but to file the lawsuit," lawyer Anna Maria Bernini said, confirming weekend reports in the small daily L'Informazione, based in Pavarotti's hometown of Modena.

"She is doing it to protect her sense of respectability - privately for the sake of her daughter and the memory of the maestro, publicly for her image and any future professional activity," Bernini said.

Mantovani had a daughter with Pavarotti; Alice, who is four. The tenor also had three daughters from his first marriage.

The two people named in the lawsuit are longtime Pavarotti friends Franca Corfini Strata, wife of the singer's dietician, and Lidia La Marca, wife of conductor Leone Magiera, who often performed with Pavarotti.

Mantovani is seeking 15 million euro ($25 million) in damages from each woman, Bernini said. She said Mantovani intends to donate any award to charity. No hearing date has been set.

Corfini Strata had no comment, her husband's office said. La Marca was not available for comment, her office said.

In a newspaper interview following Pavarotti's death, La Marca was quoted as saying the tenor had complained Mantovani was isolating him and was only thinking about money.

"'Over the last years, Nicoletta has been tormenting me; she makes me live alone,"' La Marca quoted Pavarotti as saying from his hospital bed on August 16, La Stampa said.

"'She's constantly thinking about money, she comes over with documents I'm supposed to sign. She threatens not to let me see Alice anymore,"' she quoted Pavarotti as saying.

Both women named in the lawsuit appeared on a popular show on public RAI television, Porta a Porta, and confirmed their accusations about Mantovani.

Last month, Mantovani took to the airwaves herself, saying she felt compelled to set the record straight.

Pavarotti was one of the biggest opera stars of the late 20th century, winning over audiences with his showmanship and powerful voice.

Amy Winehouse Cant Perform In Concert Without Husband

Troubled soul-singer Amy Winehouse today announced she is cancelling all her remaining planned concerts this year, saying she could not perform while her husband was in custody.

Blake Fielder-Civil, 25, is being held on remand accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm on a pub landlord in an incident in June last year.

Winehouse, 24, who has struggled with drugs and alcohol, has been criticised by critics for some of her recent performances and a statement on her Web site said her doctor had advised her to cancel all live appearances scheduled this year.

"I can't give it my all onstage without my Blake," her statement said.

"I'm so sorry but I don't want to do the shows half-heartedly; I love singing. My husband is everything to me and without him it's just not the same."

She had been due to perform a number of concerts across Britain and in Ireland, but these have now been called off.

The notice said Winehouse had been under intense emotional strain in recent weeks and she had been ordered to take a complete rest in the interest of her health and well-being.

Earlier this year she cancelled a US tour citing health issues.

Winehouse, who is considered one of the leading talents in the Britain's pop scene, has rarely been out of the pages of the country's tabloids which have closely followed her and her husband's increasingly chaotic lifestyles.

Britney Spears Want Court Case Sealed

A lawyer for Britney Spears today asked a court commissioner to keep Los Angeles County authorities from reviewing court filings in the pop star's child custody dispute.

It would be best for her two young sons that the case remain sealed, Thomas Paine Dunlap argued.

The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and its representative, the county counsel's office, are a "large bureaucracy with thousands of employees" where the details of the case could easily leak out, he said.

Kevin Federline's lawyer, Mark Vincent Kaplan, argued that if the court was going to turn files over it should identify and only release relevant issues in the case that are connected to the county investigation of Spears' parenting skills.

A county lawyer representing DCFS asked for the hearing to be closed and Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon's decision on the matter was not disclosed.

Spears, 25, and Federline, 29, were married in October 2004. The two have fought in court over custody issues since they split. Their divorce was final in July.

Among other issues addressed behind closed doors today was a new holiday visitation schedule for Sean Preston, two, and Jayden James, one.

But Superior Court spokesman Allan Parachini would not provide details. Kaplan also would not comment.

"Kevin feels it's absolutely appropriate that they both get to see the kids at the holidays," Kaplan said.

The boys spent the evening before the Thanksgiving holiday with their mother and the day with their father.

The commissioner also issued another order in the case today, but Parachini would not provide details.

The next hearing is scheduled for January 23 and the custody evaluation is scheduled to be completed and submitted to the court on April 9.

"I'm hoping that the April hearing will resolve a lot" of the custody case, Kaplan said outside court.

Iranian Women Prostitution - An Act Of Mercy

Minna and Fariba are neighbours and good friends. They support one another. Both have to live under the pervasive curtailment of women's rights and the double standards of today's Iranian society. They make a living walking the streets looking for men. They have a choice between leaving their small children at home alone or bringing them along when they have sex with men.

The film is a sympathetic portrait of the two women, exploring their day-to-day life and the workings of prostitution in a country that bans it and prosecutes adulterers, sometimes with the penalty of capital punishment.

Many of the clients find a way to buy sex and still comply with Muslim law: they marry the women in what is called 'Sighe', a temporary marriage sanctioned in Shia Islam. Sighe can last from two hours up to 99 years. Both Minna and Fariba enter into Sighe with clients, and Fariba is in a Sighe marriage with a neighbour, Habib, that lasts six months. Giving his perspective on temporary marriage, Habib says that Sighe is a way to help poor women, it is an act of mercy in the name of Allah.

The film follows the two women for more than a year. It describes their middle-class backgrounds and their submission to treacherous men and drugs. We see how Fariba manages to quit drugs and prostitution, only to find herself temporarily married to a man who will not let her leave the house.

The film is narrated by the director, Nahid Persson, who fled Iran 20 years ago. Her commentary adds her perspective and contextual information to the film's events. An element of the film is the difficulties faced by a female director shooting a film. Filming prostitution in the street was hard and dangerous, as is evident in the film. The director has to submit to the same restraints as the film's two women in a ludicrously patriarchal society marked by religious restrictions, oppression of women, and social decline. The story of Minna and Fariba mirrors the greater story of Iranian society.

It may sound in odds when one talks about pandemic presence of prostituion in Iran, especially in major cities like Tehran, considering strict Islamic laws ruling the country. But it is pervasive and occasionally, if you have your eyes open, you may spot a "pick up" on busy streets.

Surrogate Motherhood Among Poor Indian Women

Deepak Mahaan

In a new twist to the outsourcing for which India has become renowned, poor Indian women are renting out their wombs to foreigners.

Surrogate motherhood -- carrying to term and giving birth to another woman's baby - once was limited in India to helping close relatives who couldn't complete a pregnancy due to medical difficulties.

But leading gynecologist Dr. Kamla Selvaraj says it's now becoming a regular "profession" in India, with more and more women willing to carry babies for others, for a fee.

India has for years been providing foreigners with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment at a cheaper rate than the equivalent services in Western countries.

Surrogacy comes in when the biological mother is unable to carry the child. Alternatively, a surrogate also provide eggs when the woman wanting a child is unable to do so herself.

Apart from low-cost IVF treatment, India also is offering surrogate mothers at a considerably lower price than couples would pay in the U.S. or Europe.

Women's counselor Harleen Ahluwalia says surrogacy cases are estimated to have nearly doubled in the past three years.

"Foreigners find Indian legal procedures easy and less exploitative, unlike [in the] U.S., where any complication could cost a fortune," she said.

Although surrogacy cases have been reported from various regions, one area that appears to be over-represented is Anand district in the western state of Gujarat, where more than 50 economically deprived women are reported to be presently carrying babies for foreigners and non-resident Indians.

While a couple in the U.S. will generally pay tens of thousands of dollars to a surrogate mother and affiliated agencies, in India the cost could be around $5,000, plus medical and attendant costs.

Leading advocate of surrogacy, Dr. Naina Patel of the Akanksha Fertility Clinic in Anand, contends that it is a positive service. "Infertility is a global problem and we have its global solution," she said.

Responding to criticism that poor Indians are being exploited, Patel insisted that surrogate mothers were extremely well looked after by those paying for their services. They were housed comfortably and were under expert medical supervision to ensure healthy children for their clients, she said.

But not all share Patel's enthusiasm and many believe surrogacy carries a huge physical and emotional cost for the women.

Dr. Mohanlal Swarankar, chairman of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in Jaipur and one of the leading fertility experts in India, is firmly opposed to the practice of surrogacy and wants what he called the "commercial sale of wombs and babies" to be outlawed.

"Surrogacy affects the whole moral fabric of a society and could trigger complex psychological and ethical dilemmas with no easy answers," he said.

Swarankar said he worried that in a country where women are often forced into submission, "Who could tell if a woman hadn't been pressured to be a surrogate mother for the sake of big money?"

He also warned that "the social stigma attached to carrying the child of another man" could traumatize women and their relationships with their husbands.

Swarankar said he offers IVF treatment only to legally married couples, as he believes "providing a child to an infertile couple is a service to God."

He said he was also distressed at the increasing number of young healthy, married working women unwilling to put their careers on hold to have a baby, and thus paying someone else to do so on their behalf.

This was nothing short of sacrilege, he said.

Meanwhile, in the absence of clear-cut statutes, Indian courts have found themselves grappling with cases of proprietary rights of rival mothers. Most rulings to date are stated to favor surrogate mothers, and legal experts note that if a surrogate mother decides not to give up the baby, nobody can force her to do so.

The Indian Council of Medical Research is now drafting guidelines for the Indian government, to cover all aspects of artificial reproduction.

Indonesian Adult-Film Producer Busted In His Hotel Room

A Kathu Police investigations unit early Tuesday morning arrested an Indonesian adult-film producer in his hotel room after he was caught conducting a photo shoot with one of his starlets - a Thai ladyboy.

Pol Sub Lt Nitikorn Rawang, duty officer of Kathu Police Station, said the bust took place at 4:20 am.

After receiving a tip-off that a video shoot was taking place in room 314 of the Sup Inn on Soi Patong Resort, the police entered the room to find it had been converted into a makeshift studio with everything needed for the production of pornography and its distribution around the world via the Internet.

Police arrested Indonesian Farisa Riyadi, 35, and took 32-year-old Thai ladyboy Phinit "Nong Ning" Lakharn, 32, for questioning at Kathu Police headquarters.

Nong Ning, from Yasothorn, who has already undergone complete gender "re-assignment" surgery, told police that she agreed to pose for the Indonesian in return for 1,000 baht cash.

Mr Riyadi offered the same payment package to other ladyboys in the Bangla area, she said.

Many accepted the offer because they needed the money. Many also had sex with other models for 3,000 baht, she said.

All of the models had to first sign consent forms and were aware that the images were intended for global distribution, she added.

Evidence seized in the raid included an electric-powered vibrator and other sexual stimulation items, a video camera, a list of customers' names, a laptop computer with Internet connection, VCD packaging sleeves for the "Asian Thai Girl" brand, and a collection of clothes worn in productions, including cheerleader outfits and student uniforms.

The suspect was sent to Phuket Provincial Court and released after paying a fine, Pol Sub Lt Nitikorn said.

He was unable to remember the amount of the fine.

The star of the Indonesian's current project was released without charge.

"She was just a witness in the case," said Lt Nitikorn.

Production and/or distribution of pornography are illegal under Thai law.

Former Southeast Asian Sex Slave Somaly Mam Fights For Sex Slaves


Somaly Mam doesn't know her birthday. She has no clue what her real name might be, or if she even has one.

Somaly also doesn't know what her age was - though she reckons she was 8 or 9 - on the day she was sold into sexual slavery. She does remember, with complete clarity, the moment she vowed to murder her pimp.

It was the night the guy gathered all his little girl prostitutes into a room and told them to tie up one of his slaves. Then, he shot her in the head.

She was Somaly's best friend.

"I'm the only one not crying," Somaly told me, and her gaze became stern, as if she can see the man's face. "I just looked at him. I decided that I would marry a rich man, get a gun and kill him."

But Somaly didn't kill the pimp. Instead, she dedicated her life to saving little girls, like her, forced into the sex trade. Some are as young as 4 years old.

That's how she's getting her vengeance.

I met Somaly Mam last week at a Midtown restaurant to hear a tale of deprivation that seems unfathomable to American ears. Most of us would prefer not to know.

But Somaly will tell her tale, over and over if necessary, because she just started an American charity - the Somaly Mam Foundation. With a Web site, somaly.org, it raises money to save girls.

And now, the story nobody wanted to hear is getting the Hollywood treatment. A movie about the Southeast Asian slave trade, "Holly," opens Nov. 9.

Somaly figures she's now in her late 30s - a trim, gorgeous woman who looks like she could have once been a model.

She was a street child, abandoned at birth. She was beaten and tortured. Finally, an old man posing as her grandfather sold her to a brothel. She lost the capacity to feel pain.

But she survived. At age 18 or 19, Somaly was deemed too old to be a prostitute and allowed to leave the brothel. She has since married, moved to France and had three children, though she is now divorced.

In the mid-'90s, she went back to Cambodia and opened her home to young girls. She now runs three shelters, where girls learn skills like hair-cutting.

Somaly came to America with a girl of 15, Srey Pov.

Srey's childhood ended at age 7, when her mother sold her for $20. At age 10, Somaly rescued her.

On Wednesday, Srey went trick-or-treating for the first time in her life.

Somaly will not quit. Not until every little girl gets a shot at childhood.

Not until every little girl gets a chance.

Actress And Model Swati Tiwari Arrested India's Major Internet-Based Sex Racket Raid


After drugs and rock 'n' roll, sex has caught the eye of the police in Pune.

The Crime Branch last week unearthed a major Internet-based sex racket of countrywide proportions involving models -turned-television actresses - three were arrested.

The action followed last month's arrest of two Mumbai-based models and a tout from the film industry, and the detention earlier in the year of over 150 young people in a rave party that had set off a chain of narcotics seizures, all of which the police said were signs of lifestyle crimes coming to booming Pune, some 170 km from Mumbai.

The latest arrests came after a complaint against a website, chamadi.com, by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha city chief Sandeep Khardekar. The police said models from various cities across the country had posted their cellular phone numbers to offer "escort" services to "discerning gentlemen".

The website invites successful men who were pressed for time, and could not manage long-term relationships, to try its services.

A trap was laid on Tuesday and models-turned-actresses Swati Tiwari, Renu Mirza and Pooja Sonugar from the Hindi serial Meri Doli Tere Angana arrested along with middlemen Ramprasad Thapa of Pune and Balaji Shinde of Mumbai.

The website, which was still up and offering services, admitted it was into escort services but denied the arrested people were connected with it. The police said Tiwari and Mirza were from Mumbai while Sonugar was from Kolkata.

"The well-heeled form the main clientele of models operating through such websites. The charges range from Rs 15,000 to Rs 1 lakh for a night," Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Anil Kumbhare said.

Despite the police action, chamadi.com continued to operate. It featured the name of its chairman, Sameer, and gave a contact number. While a woman on the other end of the line declined to disclose her name, only saying the escort service was currently being offered in Mumbai, a man soon responded saying he was Sameer Nayar and said he had no qualms about running the service.

"I operate several such websites, with services across the globe. In many western countries, the flesh trade is legal. If it is illegal here, it is the problem of the government, not mine. They should amend the law," Nayar said. "The need for sex is universal, therefore I am operating this portal and have no hesitation in admitting it."

Nayar's website said it offered escort service in various cities. Pune was introduced as a "cultural city. that carries a rich historical legacy characterised with glorious rule of Marathas. Pune contributed significantly to the freedom movement and produced heroes like Tilak, Sane Guruji and Chapekar brothers. Today this city is home to numerous prestigious educational institutions and hence is also known as the Oxford of the East."

Expressing surprise on the website still being operational, Kumbhare said they were busy with Diwali duty, but would soon shut down the website and arrest the "main accused".

A senior police official who declined to be named as there was a possibility of further investigations, said the high-profile models on the website were sought by many students from affluent families who came to Pune from other states. Pune is known as an important educational centre, besides being an information technology hub that ensures it houses many well-paid professionals.

Chinese Women Lured Into Sexual Slavery In Dubai

Fei Fei, a 22-year-old from China's Guangdong province, has a souvenir of her eight months in Dubai: burns on her back and arms from cigarette butts crushed against her skin when she refused to work as a prostitute.

She eventually submitted when a criminal gang threatened to send nude photos of her to family members. That indignity, she said, would have been worse than selling her body.

"They take pictures of me naked in shower," Fei Fei said in broken English as she pulled up her shirt to reveal the dark red circular marks. Soon afterward, she adopted the English name "Lucy," and sold sex in Dubai bars for 500 dirhams (USD $130) a trick to claw back her freedom.

Fei Fei's story symbolizes the dark side of Dubai, better known for its skyscrapers, sail-shaped hotel and man-made islands built in the shape of palm trees. The United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is the second-largest member, is on a US State Department watch-list for failing to take "meaningful steps" to end trafficking of women for prostitution and other workers trapped in conditions of slavery.

There are an estimated 10,000 victims of human trafficking in Dubai, according to the department's 2007 report. UAE officials say the figure overestimates the problem and that they have begun to take action, passing the first anti -trafficking law in the Middle East.

Flush With Cash

Dubai has transformed itself from a trading village to the Persian Gulf's financial and tourist hub with lower taxes and a more vibrant nightlife than other Gulf states. Bars heave with men drinking $10 beers and women in short skirts.

That's attracted rich Saudis, US oil workers flush with cash after stints in Iraq, and bankers who are paid as much as 40 percent more than those in London or New York.

Affluence has increased the demand for laborers and housemaids, and the development of laws to protect them from exploitation hasn't kept pace, the International Labor Organization said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Women from Asia and Africa often sign contracts to work as maids, waitresses, hairdressers and secretaries, only to have employers confiscate their passports and force them to work as prostitutes, the US report said. Others work excessive hours under the threat of mental, physical or sexual abuse until they can pay off recruitment costs.

"Once they are there, they find that their contract is not valid," said Basil Fernando, executive director of the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission. "They get stranded."

Fear of Rape

Anne Valdez, 25, from Quezon City near Manila, lasted four months as a housemaid before she ran away.

Valdez said she traveled to the UAE because wages were higher there than at home. She was brought over by a UAE- based labor agency after signing a contract to work for $200 a month. Her employers paid Valdez $160 and made her work 19 hours a day.

"I couldn't leave the house the whole time," Valdez said in a Dubai coffee shop. "I even couldn't call my family. I was scared I would be raped."

Valdez considers herself lucky. She spent 10 months hiding with relatives, avoiding police and working part-time jobs at hotels to help support herself. She said supervisors often made sexual advances, though they never assaulted her or forced her into prostitution.

Valdez returned to the Philippines with no job and no savings to support her 1-year-old son, after taking advantage of a government amnesty that allowed illegal workers to leave.

Making an Effort

Worldwide, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year, the State Department said. Kuwait and Qatar are ranked on the same watch-list for cases of involuntary servitude, not sexual exploitation as in the UAE Saudi Arabia is on a worse tier ranking than the UAE

In July, the UAE formed a committee of senior officials to combat human trafficking, and it has opened a shelter for abused women. In the past year it has closed 40 hotels and clubs that allowed prostitution, said Anwar Gargash, minister of state for Federal National Council Affairs in Dubai.

"We are committed to tackling this problem on several levels through the rigorous prosecution of criminals, preventative measures and, most importantly, protection of victims of this crime," Gargash said.

Any crackdown on such crimes comes too late for Emily Ivy from Edo State in southern Nigeria.

The 22-year-old was forced into prostitution by her step-sister, who lured her to Dubai with the promise of a job in a beauty salon. She was told to pay $15,000 to get her identification back and continues to work the bars to send money to her widowed mother.

"I came to work in a beauty parlor for my sister," Ivy said. "Three months later, I was told to go to the bars to sell my body. I don't want to do it anymore. I am tired."

She has applied for a job as an air stewardess.

Fei Fei's journey to Dubai also ended badly. Once she had plans to study English at a language school in the city, but after paying her pimp 6,000 dirhams (USD $1,600) a month, she managed to save enough money to return to China.

"I want to change my job," she said before departing.

Malawi Government Applauds Madonna


The Malawi Government has applauded pop diva Madonna's efforts to put the plight of the country's Aids orphans on the global stage and raising money to support them.

The American singer pledged last week to work with luxury goods maker Gucci to raise at least US$2 million ($2.68) million for Malawi's orphans - numbering more than a million.

Madonna and the Italian firm will host a fundraising event with dinner, musical performance and a party in February to mark the opening of Gucci's largest store in the world, on New York's Fifth Avenue.

Malawi's Information Minister, Patricia Kaliati, said: "What she is doing for the orphans of this country, very few superstars like her can do that - she has managed to raise their plight on the world stage.

"Madonna has built clinics in rural areas where the government has failed to reach. Because of that, she has saved many lives of pregnant mothers who could have died."

The bid by the pop star and her movie director husband Guy Ritchie to adopt David Banda from Malawi has hit several snags since they took the 13-month-old boy to their London home last year.

The boy had been placed in an orphanage by his father after the death of his mother.

Madonna is due to return to Malawi in April for an official hearing before she can permanently adopt the child.

Madonna said the charity event would benefit Unicef and the charity she co-founded in 2006, Raising Malawi, which focuses on helping the country's orphans, many of whose parents have died of Aids.

Mary-Kate Olsen Hospitalized For Kidney Infection


Mary-Kate Olsen is being treated in a Manhattan hospital for a kidney infection.

The 21-year-old actress checked into the hospital Monday night, her publicist, Nicole Caruso, said in an email to The Associated Press. She didn't identify where Olsen was admitted.

"She has a kidney infection," Caruso said. "She is resting comfortably and will be released in the next day or so."

Olsen rose to fame on TV's Full House in a shared role with her twin sister, Ashley. She recently starred on Showtime's Weeds. She co-stars with Ben Kingsley in The Wackness, slated for release next year.

Kate Moss And Sienna Miller Warming Up For Lifetime War


Kate Moss has warned Sienna Miller she will "have an enemy for life" if she hurts her good friend Rhys Ifans.

The catwalk beauty had a dramatic showdown with rival Sienna over the actress' relationship with the Welsh actor at soap star Davinia Taylor's 30th birthday party at The Colour Rooms, in east London, on Saturday.

Kate, 33, was overheard saying: "If you hurt Rhys, you'll have made an enemy for life. Treat him right and we'll leave you alone. But don't hurt him because we love him - and we always stick together."

Kate - who organised the bash for Davinia - had begrudgingly invited 25-year-old Sienna, telling Rhys she would have to behave herself.

However, after a few drinks Kate couldn't contain her feelings and confronted the Factory Girl star.

One partygoer told Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper: "Sienna was shocked by what Kate had said. She turned on her heel and took to the dancefloor. She just couldn't believe it."

Kate has made no secret of her feelings towards Sienna, who is believed to have started dating the Notting Hill actor in August.

In September, the pair had a blazing row at a friend's wedding reception when Sienna arrived with Rhys, 39, and Kate accused the actress of "stealing her style and friends".

Paparazzo Photographer Jamie Fawcett Makes Up Stories Against Nicole Kidman

Yuko Narushima

The paparazzo photographer Jamie Fawcett was yesterday accused of making up stories after he told the NSW Supreme Court he had touched but not planted a bug outside Nicole Kidman's house.

The photographer also agreed it was his view that celebrities such as Kidman only had a right to privacy if they were concealed behind the walls of a house, and said that the actress had sworn at him.

Fawcett said he was waiting outside Kidman's Darling Point home on January 23, 2005, when he saw her security guard, Malcolm Carter, behaving strangely. Mr Carter turned around 360 degrees before crouching near a small wall, Fawcett said. "I thought it was odd and I went up to the place where he had done this and had a look," he said.

Fawcett said he picked up what appeared to be a listening device before putting it back and walking to his car.

"I sat there and pondered about what had happened," he said, worrying later that his prints would be on the bug, which he said the guard returned to pick up.

In cross-examination, Tom Blackburn, SC, for Fairfax Media, the publisher of the Herald, said that Fawcett was inventing the story as he went along.

"This is something you have simply made up," Mr Blackburn said. "You are concerned that your DNA might be on the listening device and you had to account for it."

Maintaining the deadpan expression he had worn all day, Fawcett said: "That's not true."

In a separate incident last year, Kidman and her husband, Keith Urban, cut short a South Coast holiday because the actress said she felt trapped knowing Fawcett was there.

The photographer said he tried to snap the couple's picture from the side of the road as Urban drove the couple home. He said the couple slowed down as they passed him and Kidman swore.

Asked what the actress said, Fawcett replied matter-of-factly: "F--- off Jamie Fawcett."

Fawcett said it was inappropriate for photographers to pursue lay people for photographs "because they wouldn't know why you were pursuing them" but agreed when Mr Blackburn put it to him that it was his attitude that a celebrity such as Kidman has a right to privacy only when they are concealed behind the walls of a house.

Fawcett has taken defamation action against The Sun-Herald newspaper over a January 2005 article that a jury has found defamed him.

The jury decided one of the meanings conveyed in the article was that Fawcett had placed a listening device "intending to intercept" Kidman's private conversations.

Justice Carolyn Simpson is conducting the hearing in which Fairfax Media, the paper's publisher, is seeking to establish that some of the meanings are true.

The hearing continues.

Britney Spears Lost Copyright Lawsuit To Louis Vuitton


Luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton has won a lawsuit accusing Britney Spears of violating counterfeit laws by showcasing a pink Vuitton-upholstered dashboard in a music video.

A Paris civil court ordered Sony BMG and MTV Online to stop broadcasting or marketing the video for Do Something in any form, and fined them 80,000 euros apiece, a spokeswoman for Paris-based Louis Vuitton said today.

The ruling was handed down last week. In the opening scenes of the clip, Spears appears in the driver's seat of a hot pink Hummer floating on make-believe clouds.

One multi-second shot shows fingers drumming on a dashboard covered with what looks like Vuitton's "Cherry Blossoms" design: dark pink blossoms on a pale pink, weblike background, embossed with the "LV" logo.

Actress Lindsay Lohan Served An 84 Minutes Jail Term Today


Actress Lindsay Lohan checked in and out of jail today, spending just 84 minutes behind bars for a drunken driving and cocaine-possession conviction, Los Angeles police said.

Lohan, 21, had been sentenced in August to one day in jail after admitting guilt to drink and drug charges and was told by the court to serve her time before January.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Web site showed that Lohan checked into jail at 10:30am on Thursday (7.30am Fri NZT) and was released at 11:54am.

The charges stemmed from a July car chase and an arrest in May after she wrecked her car in Beverly Hills. After her July arrest, the star of the hit movie Mean Girls checked into a rehabilitation centre in Utah and spent more than two months there.

It was Lohan's second stint in rehab this year after admitting she had been attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Lohan was also sentenced to 10 days of community service, three years probation and 18 months of an alcohol-education programme.

Jail sentences for minor crimes are often cut short by Los Angeles sheriffs, who manage the county jails, because of overcrowding. In August actress Nicole Richie of The Simple Life spent one hour, 20 minutes in jail for what was a four-day sentence for driving under the influence of drugs.

In July, a media frenzy surrounded socialite Paris Hilton's three-week stint behind bars for a driving violation. Hilton had been sentenced to 45 days, was released after three days, and then sent back after an outcry over perceived preferential treatment.

Arrest Warrant Issued For Actress Hayden Panettiere In Japan


An arrest warrant has been issued for actress Hayden Panettiere in Japan as a result of her Save the Whales protest in the country according to E! News.

"I learned today that I have an arrest warrant out for me in Japan because of what I did for Save the Whales," Heroes star Panettiere told E!.

Panettiere was part of a group who tried to prevent the slaughter of a group of whales and dolphins by fisherman near Taiji in southwestern Japan.

The group of activists was involved in a confrontation with the fishermen after they paddled on surfboards to try and reach a pod of dolphins before it was driven into a nearby cove and massacred.

Video footage of the clash shows the fisherman using the boat's propellers to halt the surfers' progress and even lashing out at them with a boat hook, eventually forcing them to return to shore.

Panettiere said she did not know what repercussions the arrest warrant would bring, but said it would not put her off doing something similar again.

"I'd do it again," she said of the protest. "Very possibly, might do it again."

"I was very excited that people were interested in what we did," she said. "In [Hollywood], you tend to only get publicity for not wearing underwear or going to rehab."

Victoria Beckham Amuses Her Husbands With Her Dance Steps


David Beckham can't stop laughing at wife Victoria when she practises her Spice Girls tour dance routines.

Victoria - also known as Posh - has been listening to the band's hits on her iPod in a bid to learn the group's complex dance routines before their tour starts.

She wrote on the Spice Girls' official blog: "David and the boys have been laughing at me because I've been wandering around the house listening to my iPod and practising the routines. We are including some parts of the old routines but bringing them up to date a bit."

Victoria also admitted she is nervous about the tour, which starts in Vancouver, Canada, on December 2, because it will be the first time her sons have seen their mother perform.

The singer - who has three boys, eight-year-old Brooklyn, five-year-old Romeo, and Cruz, two, with David - said: "My boys are so excited about the tour, they can't wait and I'm really looking forward to them seeing me up on stage. I'm just really hoping I don't get over emotional when I see them!"

The girls will be performing together for the first time in seven years today as part of the Victoria's Secret fashion show.

They will also be performing live from Los Angeles on the BBC's 'Children In Need' charity telethon tomorrow.

Madonna And Gucci To Raise Funds For Charity In Malawi


Madonna is joining forces with luxury goods-maker Gucci to raise funds for orphans in Malawi, the impoverished southern African nation where she has been trying to adopt a child since last year.

The American pop star and Gucci will host a fund-raising event with dinner, a musical performance and a party on February 6 next year to mark the opening of Gucci's largest store in the world, on New York's Fifth Avenue.

Madonna said the event will benefit UNICEF and the charity she co-founded in 2006, Raising Malawi, which focuses on trying to end the poverty and hardship suffered by Malawi's 1 million orphans, many of whose parents died of AIDS.

"I am grateful that Gucci is joining forces with me to bring attention to a country with millions of children in desperate need of our help," Madonna said in a statement.

"Raising Malawi has already done tremendous work in helping these children. But we have much more to do and this event will surely bring us closer to our goal."

Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie's bid to adopt David Banda from Malawi has hit several stumbling blocks since they took the 13-month-old boy from the African country last year. He had been placed in an orphanage by his father after the death of his mother.

Rights groups have accused Madonna of using her fame and wealth to circumvent the country's adoption rules, although the singer has insisted she is following the law.

Malawi's High Court is to hold a hearing next year into whether Madonna and Ritchie are suitable parents and should adopt the child.

The New York event is expected to raise at least $2 million with Madonna joined by a list of celebrity co-chairs for the event, including Adrien Brody, Arpad Busson, Salma Hayek and Francois-Henri Pinault, Tea Leoni, Lucy Liu, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Gucci, which is owned by French retailer PPR, has been a UNICEF corporate partner since 2004.

Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the US Fund for UNICEF, thanked Madonna and Gucci and said AIDS remained one of the most devastating public health problems in recent history.

"Every day, 6,000 children lose a parent to AIDS, and 1,400 children die from AIDS," Stern said in the statement.

Woman Sues Oscar De La Hoya Fraud, Defamation....

A New York woman is suing Olympic boxer Oscar de la Hoya for $100 million, saying she was coerced into agreeing not to sell photographs of him dancing around a hotel room in women's clothing.

Milana Dravnel, who the New York Post and New York Daily News reported had met de la Hoya at a strip club where she worked, said the agreement was made after she had already sold some of the images to a Hollywood photo agency for US$70,000.

The lawsuit, filed in New York State Court, said that amount was "below market value" for the photos, which were widely disseminated.

In one of the images, de la Hoya appears in a black fishnet bodysuit and black heels. In another, he is wearing a white tutu. It is not known whether the photos, apparently taken at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Philadelphia, were doctored.

Representatives for de la Hoya, the Mexican-American multiple world champion known as "Golden Boy," were not immediately available for comment.

Dravnel, 22, said a representative of de la Hoya coerced her into signing the agreement, which blocked her from selling or discussing the pictures she took of the 34-year-old boxer.

De la Hoya sought the agreement with Dravnel "in an effort to stonewall (her) effort to sell the pictures taken by her," the lawsuit said.

Dravnel said in the filing she was especially vulnerable to coercion by de la Hoya's representatives because she and the boxer had been in an "intimate relationship."

She said she was "unaware of the legal consequences of the transaction" and that she did not have a lawyer present when she signed the agreement. As a result, Dravnel has been cheated out of income and has been unable to repair her damaged public reputation, the lawsuit said.

Dravnel is suing for fraud, defamation, interfering with a contract, and exerting undue and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Ethiopian Adoption Agency Speaks Up For Angelina Jolie


Angelina Jolie's adoption of an Ethiopian baby was legal, the agency involved said today, rejecting reports that the child's relatives want her back.

Newspapers have reported this week that relatives of two-year-old Zahara, including a woman who says she is her birth mother, want the child returned to Ethiopia. Jolie adopted Zahara in July, 2005.

"The court in Addis Ababa approved the adoption after studying the document her grandmother wrote ... saying her daughter, the mother of Zahara, had died and she was too poor to bring her up," Tsegaye Berhe, the head of Wide Horizons for Children, which conducted the adoption, told Reuters.

"The grandmother brought three witnesses to court who testified that Zahara's mother had died and that her father was unknown ... The court also investigated the social status of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt before approving the adoption."

Tsegaye said the adoption was "legal and irrevocable", and he blamed reporters who he said had paid the relatives to raise the dispute.

"The controversy is media hype by unethical journalists exploiting the poverty of the grandmother," he said.

Nicole Kidman's Husband Comes First Before Her Career



Oscar winner Nicole Kidman is one of Hollywood's top actresses, but she says for the moment her marriage to country music star Keith Urban takes priority over her career.

Kidman, who says she "spontaneously" chooses most of her roles, has had some recent high-profile flops, like 2004s The Stepford Wives, 2005s Bewitched and 2007s The Invasion, since winning an Oscar in 2003 for playing novelist Virginia Woolf in the The Hours.

While promoting her latest movie, Margot at the Wedding in New York, the Australian actress, 40, said her main concern was her relationship with Urban, whom she married in June 2006 in Sydney.

Grammy-winning Urban spent two months in a rehab centre last year, but did not disclose the nature of his treatment. He has acknowledged an addiction to cocaine in the past and credits Kidman with seeing him through his crisis.

As for Kidman she told a group of reporters: "I just recently married so that's my priority. I love my work but at the same time I don't want to do it without having somebody else in my life to share that with."

A recent Forbes.com study of actors box office return on their salary ranked Kidman at No 18 out of 22 actors with a return of $8 for each $1 she was paid. This compares to Matt Damon, ranked No 1, who earned $29 for each $1.

But Kidman, who split from actor Tom Cruise in 2001 after nearly 10 years of marriage, says she is just interested in doing good work.

"I'm interested in working with complex, really, really good directors and sometimes that results in great films and sometimes that results in some films that were reaching high and didn't get there," she said.

She said earning a high salary for a big film lets her pick smaller art house films that she wants to do like Margot at the Wedding, which opens in the United States on Friday.

In Margot at the Wedding, Kidman plays a short-story writer, Margot, who creates chaos ahead of the planned wedding of her estranged sister Pauline, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, to artist Malcolm, played by Jack Black.

Since April, Kidman has been in Australia filming Baz Luhrmann's big budget epic Australia with Hugh Jackman. She plays an English aristocrat who inherits a massive cattle station in outback Australia prior to World War Two.

"It's the film I dreamed of making when I was a little girl," she said.

"I hope it lives up to my expectations because I wanted to make a film that's deeply romantic, that's got a magical quality to it, but is still a sweeping drama, sprinkled with some comedy so if we can pull that off I will be very very pleased," she said.

"We're certainly working hard toward putting something magical on screen."

Spice Girls Still Living Up To Their Nicknames

Spice Girl Mel C claims the Spice Girls all still live up to their famous nicknames.

The singer, who was christened Sporty in the band's heyday, says while she and the rest of the girls - Victoria 'Posh' Beckham, Emma 'Baby' Bunton, Mel 'Scary' B and Geri 'Ginger' Halliwell' - have matured in the past nine years they still have their distinctive personalities.

Mel C said: "Mel B isn't as scary as she used to be, she's definitely mellowed somewhat. But she's still very feisty. Ginger is a little bit lighter now, her hair is a little bit more golden. Baby's always going to be the baby, she's the youngest. And Victoria is very posh."

Mel C, who was initially reluctant to reform the band, is now looking forward to the girls' reunion tour, which starts in Vancouver, Canada, on December 2.

But she said it was not the beginning of a new chapter, but rather "our final bow" to celebrate a career that has seen the group sell more than 55 million albums and rack up 10 No. 1 singles around the world.

"This is our final farewell," Mel C said in an interview from Los Angeles, where the group is rehearsing for the tour, which starts in Vancouver on December 2 and is scheduled to play 18 cities in nine countries.

"We wanted an opportunity to get together to really celebrate everything we've achieved and give a great big thank you to our fans. We just want to make this the best pop show that a British band has ever put on."

"We all hoped (the reunion) would be successful, but we're all quite overwhelmed by the actual response. That has just made us more determined to make the show the best show any British pop band has ever put on," she said.

Before the world tour starts, the band will appear at a fashion show for lingerie chain Victoria's Secret, in which they will be wearing some of the firm's sexy underwear.

She added to US TV channel E!: "We're going to be performing one of our old songs and one of our new songs, Headlines, and it's going to be very beautiful.

"We're hoping to get ourselves into some Victoria's Secret underwear for the show."

The girls have signed an exclusive deal with Victoria's Secret to sell their greatest hits album exclusively through the lingerie chain.

Mel C admits she was reluctant to be part of the reunion, which she said the group began talking about after they were asked to perform at one of the 2005 Live 8 concerts to fight global poverty.

"For years I always thought I would never go back. It's a very personal thing to me. I had a lot of things to deal with after the Spice Girls, I had a lot of personal issues, and I have been very happy being a solo artist," said Chisholm, 33, who has released four solo albums.

"I had to really think about my decision, but after spending time with the girls and now getting into the show I am so glad this is the decision I had made," she said, adding that Halliwell - a.k.a. Ginger Spice - did try to convince her by telling her the group would reunite with or without her.

"That was a phone call that I received, whether it was true or not I don't know," Mel C said, laughing.

Eva Longoria Quitting 'Desperate Housewives' To Have A Baby


Eva Longoria is planning to quit Desperate Housewives to have a baby.

The actress, who is married to basketball star Tony Parker, is ready to walk away from Wisteria Lane and start a family.

She said: "I've always loved the idea of having lots of children. If I'm around any baby, I'm like, 'Aaaaahhhh, babies!'

"I was pretty ambitions when I moved to Hollywood and I succeeded. But now I've found new ambitions - I want to work, I want to be a great wife and I want to have children. This is a new chapter in my life. I will be very sad to go but I'll have more time to do movies."

Eva, 32, has also revealed she is such a dedicated housewife she flies to Texas just to cook Tony breakfast.

The actress works in Los Angeles, while Tony plies his trade in Texas, where Eva was raised. But if she has any spare time she hops on a plane and surprises him with some unexpected home cooking.

She said: "Texas is home, Los Angeles is where I work. If Desperate Housewives call me and say you're off tomorrow, I'll catch a red-eye flight to Texas, be there in time to make Tony breakfast, fix him lunch and dinner, then fly back."

Meanwhile rumours are rampant Eva's cast mate Nicollette Sheridan is pregnant with fiancee Michael Bolton's child.

Sheridan set the crew of Desperate Housewives buzzing by asking Felicity Huffman and Marcia Cross about how pregnancy would change her appearance and if it would make her hair thinner.

A show source said: "She's absolutely glowing and her pregnancy is the buzz of the set."

Australian actress Nicole Kidman & Sydney Paparazzo Jamie Fawcett In Court


Oscar-winning Australian actress Nicole Kidman screamed and feared for her life during an incident involving a Sydney paparazzo, a judge has been told.

Giving evidence in the NSW Supreme Court today, John Manning said he was driving Kidman to her parents' Sydney home on January 23, 2005.

He said their car was followed by a jeep driven by photographer Jamie Fawcett.

Mr Manning said he had to swerve his car at one stage when Fawcett's car drove over a median strip.

He said Kidman was "screaming" and saying things such as: "This has to stop. Call the police."

"She was fearing for her life and she said someone is going to get killed," he told the court.

He was giving evidence at a defamation hearing Fawcett brought over an article published in The Sun-Herald newspaper in January 2005.

A jury has already found the article defamed Fawcett, and Justice Carolyn Simpson is now considering any defences brought forward by the paper's publishers Fairfax Media.

Manning was called to give evidence by Fairfax.

Justice Simpson was told Kidman might be available to give evidence next Monday.

In September last year, a jury found Fawcett had been defamed in the article, which conveyed the meaning that he was "Sydney's most disliked freelance photographer".

Other defamatory meanings found by the jury included that the photographer had placed a listening device, intending to intercept Kidman's private conversations, and that he had caused "havoc" in her private life.

The hearing is continuing.

Angelina Jolie Shocked By The Level Of Violence In 'Beowulf'

Angelina Jolie signed autographs and chatted with fans today in London's Leicester Square during the British premiere of the movie Beowulf.

Jolie, wearing black leather trousers and a tight sweater over her slender frame, brought along her boyfriend Brad Pitt.

"It's so, so nice to see all these fans here, it always is," she told reporters as hundreds of people lined up outside the brightly lit runway to the theatre. "I haven't been here for a little bit. I lived here for a few years, and I do plan to come back more often."

Pitt, dressed in a grey flat-cap, stood back. "I'm off duty tonight," he told reporters before heading into the theatre with Jolie to watch the film.

Director Robert Zemeckis brings the Norse legend of Beowulf to life with technology similar to what he used on The Polar Express to capture live actors whose performances are then digitally animated. Jolie plays Beowulf's vile foe, Grendel's mother.

Co-star Sir Anthony Hopkins also showed up for the premiere.

Jolie said she especially enjoyed working on the movie with actor Ray Winstone, who plays the warrior Beowulf. "He's amazing, I want to do something else with Ray soon because he's so much fun. He's brilliant," she said.

The film has scenes of graphic violence, and Jolie said: "I think it's remarkable that it has the rating it has. It's quite an extraordinary film and some of it shocked me."

Hundreds Turn Out At Charmaine Dragun's Memorial Service


Network Ten's fragile anchor Charmaine Dragun was renowned for her humour, inner strength and courage, her memorial service in Perth was told today.

The highly popular 29-year-old fell to her death at The Gap, in Sydney last week, after struggling with depression.

Hundreds of people packed the All Saints Church in suburban Greenwood today to celebrate the life of Ms Dragun who was known for her beautiful smile, humour, laughter, inner strength and courage.

Father Vincent Conroy said an excerpt from the Corinthians, read at today's service, would have been read at Ms Dragun's marriage to Simon Struthers next year.

She and her long-term partner had been secretly planning to marry at their joint birthday celebrations in March.

Ms Dragun's parents Michael and Estelle had been aware of their daughter's fragility as she struggled with depression, Father Conroy said.

They have previously said while her death was defined by depression her life was defined by love.

Friends and colleagues have said the popular journalist was deeply loved and so warm and caring only her family and closest friends ever knew she was suffering.

That is why her death came as such a shock to the many people who cared for her, from colleagues to viewers who have left tributes in their hundreds on websites and facebook.

But she had suffered depression for years.

She had changed her medication in the fortnight before her death, a situation the coroner is investigating.

Mourners were asked to pray for those burdened by illnesses such as depression.

Ms Dragun was a highly intelligent newsreader for Perth's TEN News at Five, alongside Tim Webster, and the program is produced in Sydney.

She is understood to have missed her friends and family in Perth since moving to Sydney in 2005 following her promotion to the newsdesk.

Ms Dragun started her career in radio in Perth after graduating from the WA Academy of Performing Arts, and had been with Network Ten for nearly eight years.

Today's service was to be followed by a further celebration of her life at Perth's Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park where Ms Dragun's parents, partner, mother in law, grandfather and brother Matt were to give eulogies.

Ten is holding a private memorial service for her in Sydney on Friday.

At Pinnaroo, Ms Dragun's mother Estelle said she was privileged God had chosen her to have Charmaine.

"We loved you dearly, we know you loved us and you spread your love to everyone around you.

"I know you are up there singing with the angels, organising and caring for everyone around you."

Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie At 'Beowulf' Premiere in London


Actress Angelina Jolie was joined by her boyfriend Brad Pitt as she signed autographs in London's Leicester Square before the British premiere of her new movie Beowulf.

Jolie, whose thin frame was covered by black leather trousers and a tight sweater, signed autographs and chatted with some of the hundreds of fans outside the theatre.

It's so, so nice to see all these fans here, it always is," she told reporters.

"I haven't been here for a little bit. I lived here for a few years, and I do plan to come back more often."

Jolie appeared relaxed and happy, despite getting one of her black Christian Louboutin stilleto heels stuck in chewing gum on the red carpet.

Pitt, dressed in a grey flat-cap, refused to steal the limelight, telling reporters "I'm off duty tonight."

Beowulf co-stars Sir Anthony Hopkins and Ray Winstone also showed up for the premiere.

Rap Superstar Kanye West's Mother Dies At 58


Rap superstar Kanye West's mother has died at the age of 58.

Dr Donda West passed away on Saturday in a Los Angeles hospital.

A spokesperson for West confirmed the death saying "The family respectfully asks for privacy during this time of grief."

There was no word on the cause of her death.

Kanye had just landed in London when he learned of his mother's death. He immediately flew to Los Angeles to join fellow family members.

The rapper had a close relationship with his mother, who raised him as a single mother in Chicago after divorcing his father Ray, a former Black Panther, when Kanye was 3.

Kanye recorded a tribute to Donda called Hey Mama which appeared on his 2005 album Late Registration.

The song included the words "Hey Mama, I wanna scream so loud for you/ 'Cause I'm so proud of you/ Let me tell you what I'm about to do ... I appreciate what you allowed for me, I just want you to be proud of me. "You're unbreakable, unmistakable/ Highly capable, lady that's makin loot/ A livin' legend too, just look at what heaven do/ Send us an angel, and I thank you (Hey Mama)."

The song became the ring tone she played on her cell phone, People reports.

Donda was formerly an English professor before taking on the position of Kanye's manager in 2004. She was also CEO of West Brands LLC and co-founder of the Kanye West Foundation. She recently released a book called Raising Kanye: Life Lessons From the Mother of a Hip-Hop Superstar.

Why High-Flying Women Fall For The Wrong Type Of Men


Samantha Brett

Kate Moss lurches from Pete Doherty into the arms of another unsuitable man. Sienna Miller falls for confirmed cheater Jude Law. Britney Spears marries white trash poster boy K-Fed. And Simone continues to return to Shane Warne, despite shenanigans with blow-up dolls, X-rated video footage and way too many text-sex affairs.

So why does this happen? Why is it that so many girls wax lyrical over dating some bloke who refuses to return their calls, won't be caught dead meeting her folks, never buys her gifts (unless he wants something in return) and hardly remembers her name?

Introducing the bad boy - aka the blokes beautiful women tend to fall hopelessly in love with. But why?

There's a brilliant line in the recent Hollywood flick Perfect Stranger, starring Halle Berry, that poses that very same question. "What is it about powerful women and shitty men?" a character asks.

Perhaps Kate Moss would know the answer.

The waifish supermodel seems as addicted to dating bad men as she is fond of illegal substances. Most tellingly is her on-again, off-again romance with Pete Doherty, lead singer of rock band Babyshambles, whom she met at her 31st birthday party in 2005.

It was love (or rather lunacy) at first sight between the wealthy supermodel and the rock star. As Moss lived the high life, jetting between cover shoots for the most glamorous magazines in the world, posing for lucrative advertising contracts (she was the face of Rimmel, Chanel, Calvin Klein and Christian Dior) and prancing around A-list parties, Doherty was plumbing the depths. He continued to commit a string of ludicrous crimes, ranging from possessing drugs to stealing cars, punching band mates and assaulting paparazzi.

What she saw in him, we'll never know. But perhaps, writing in his recently published diaries, Moss gave us a little hint: "You make me high, my sweet," she wrote. "My skin shivers and longs to be held by you."

Documentary maker Roger Pomphrey saw the X factor, too. Having spent 11 months with Doherty creating a documentary on his life, he found himself "enamoured and intrigued" by the bloke, who he said was "very charming, endearing and open, very, very vulnerable, witty, intelligent and sharp. And he's very sexy."

So Moss stayed. Even when he was caught injecting smack into an unconscious female fan. Even when he was snapped supposedly cheating on Moss with a South African model at a hip London nightspot. Even when he went from jail, to rehab and back to jail again.

After the cocaine scandal broke - shocking photos and video footage of Moss ensconced in a drugs and drinking session with Doherty and his junkie mates - we all thought she would finally smarten up.

Especially when she checked into rehab, apologised to the fans, resigned from her contracts (nabbing a few more along the way) and almost doubled her wealth to emerge back on top as the world's most sought after supermodel. But no. Despite pleas from the rest of the world to give up her bona fide bad boy, Moss seemed unmoved.

That was until recently, when she called it quits for good and announced she was "engaged" to her new boyfriend, the Kills rocker Jamie Hince. From one bad boy to another.

"Women become addicted to the bad boy because he's exciting; he's naughty," explains Sydney relationships counsellor Alice Haemmerle. "He has a load of testosterone running through his body and women are enamoured by this. They are often very charming and have the ability to lure you in."

Despite all the philandering, uncertainty and heartache, it seems glamour girls just can't get enough of the bad boy; they are the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese wed shock rocker Marilyn Manson, only to file for a divorce 12 months later due to his "inappropriate relationship" with another woman.

Whitney Houston decided to pull the plug on her 14-year union with singer Bobby Brown after she accused him of beating her.

Tommy Lee reportedly "kicked the crap" out of ex-wife Pamela Anderson, who took three years to leave the bad boy rocker. "I'm one of those people, where it doesn't take a brick to fall on my head, just a building," she said.

Ditto Sienna Miller.

The leggy blonde was applauded for being the one to tame bad boy Jude Law by getting him to propose but things turned sour when "nanny-gate" struck. Law was caught in a compromising position with the hired help, while the kids played in the other room.

Yet despite being smart, successful and downright dazzling, Miller couldn't tear herself away and raced back into his arms - without an engagement ring.

As Cameron Diaz recently mused of Law, her co-star in the romantic flick The Holiday, "He's charismatic, fun, open and charming. It's very easy to fall in love with him."

The worst afflicted by the bad boy syndrome has to be Britney Spears. Once a teen pop sensation sporting cutesy pigtails, a lengthy list of morals and a "no sex before marriage" mantra, meeting Kevin Federline in 2004 changed everything.

The not yet divorced father of one (with another on the way), looked and behaved like the ultimate bad boy. And goody-two-shoes Spears wanted in.

After declaring her love for the back-up dancer, she purchased her own ring (at a whopping $US400,000), had loads of sex (telling the world about it on her reality television show, Toxic), got drunk, discovered drugs and gave birth to a baby boy.

Despite rumours of Federline having an affair, cavorting with strippers and leaving Spears at home to look after the kids while he spent all her cash, she nevertheless stuck by her man, telling US TV program The Today Show that she loves Federline because he's simple.

"[I love] his simplicity and he's just like a boy, he cares," she said.

"He cares so much and his heart is awesome. He has a really big heart and I love that."

But after giving birth to a second child, shedding the weight she gained during pregnancy, hanging out with Paris Hilton and flashing her nether regions for the paparazzi, she plucked up the courage to give K-Fed the flick. Bizarrely, however, these days it seems as if K-Fed was the saint in the union. Nevertheless, it's an interesting quandary: why would celebrities such as Spears and Moss risk losing it all in favour of the bad boy?

Theories abound. Many experts conclude that these gorgeous women believe that if they flounce about with a villainous cad, it will be their magic-carpet escape ride away from their image-conscious existence.

Others, such as relationships expert Allan Pease, author of Why Men Don't Have A Clue And Women Always Need More Shoes, say women want two different types of men depending on where they are in their menstrual cycle. "During ovulation she wants the macho man, bad-boy type who can pass on genetic strengths to her offspring, like Russell Crowe," he says.

And the rest of the month?

"She desires the stay-at-home caring, secure nice guy, like Hugh Grant."

No wonder so many modern men are confused.

Some blokes, however, have perfected their bad boy persona. Colin Farrell, the chain-smoking, hard-drinking, "hot and horny" Irish bad boy reportedly dated Demi Moore for a week, Spears for a night, Kate Beckinsale for a day and discussed the possibility of something more than friends with Angelina Jolie. When he upset feminists by declaring he was "sick of love" and looking for "a lifetime of casual sex", it only added to his bad boy appeal.

Robbie Williams is no different. Having bedded more women than Casanova, Williams, on his recent tour to Australia, declared he wanted to "shag himself silly" and bed as many more women as possible.

And despite his penchant for swearing, boozing and belittling women, he remains the ultimate bad boy that most women would love to tame.

Which brings us to another conundrum: can a woman ever truly change a bad boy? While it's every woman's dream to have the skills to change a man, experts reckon it's an impossible ask.

"The second you go about changing a bad boy, you instantly get this cardboard cut-out of a guy who pretends to be one thing, but is really another behind your back," says Geoff Barker, author of What's On A Man's Mind?.

"Society does err on the nice guy's side these days, so women, after getting over the bad boy, do revert to the nice guy eventually."

Ah, the nice guy. The one that supposedly always finishes last. For those entrenched in Planet Dating, deciding between the two can be a vexing decision. Just ask Bridget Jones when it comes to the Mark Darcy versus the Daniel Cleaver debate.

On the one hand there's the sweet, loving, adorable bloke who loves your imperfections, laughs at your lame jokes and holds your handbag while you're shopping. ("Ew!" say the bad boys, "never!")

On the other hand there's the bad boy; the bloke who doesn't like your friends, is rarely complimentary and would rather eat dirt than carry around your Witchery purse. But you try him anyway because, well, he makes you feel sexy.

Melbourne dating coach Nige 54 explains why we're usually too quick to ditch the Darcy: "Nice guys are just too feminine."

"Relationships work best when there is the existence of masculine and feminine polarity," he says. "The sensitive new age guy that was created in the '90s by many women's magazines and was initially welcomed by women as it was an interesting change was soon kicked out of bed for the more sexually aggressive and appealing masculine alternative which women cannot resist."

But ladies, don't fret if you've been burnt by the bad boy. As Mae West once said: "A woman has got to love a bad man once or twice in her life to be thankful for a good one."