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Video: What’s next for Britney?

TODAY contributor
updated 1/7/2008 11:32:55 AM ET 2008-01-07T16:32:55

Two days after Britney Spears was removed from her home strapped to a gurney after a standoff with police in which she allegedly used her two young sons as hostages, she was sipping a mimosa and laughing hysterically in Palm Desert with her new boyfriend — a 35-year-old paparazzo.

It’s all evidence, her family is saying, that the troubled pop star has serious mental disorders.

In the notoriously fractious Spears family, “People” magazine managing editor Peter Castro told TODAY’s Hoda Kotb on Monday, there is just one thing most observers can agree on.

“The only thing that’s unanimous in this whole thing is that everyone is in agreement that Britney leaving the hospital so soon was an absolute, colossal mistake and very destructive on her part,” Castro said.

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He added that family and friends believe she is mentally ill.

“Sources very close to the family told ‘People’ magazine over the weekend that they believe that Britney has been suffering from bipolar disorder for a very long time, also postpartum depression,” he said. “That may explain this behavior.”

Spears lost total custody of her children after her Friday meltdown. They are now staying with their father, Spears’ former husband Kevin Federline, who last year had won primary custody of the boys.

Earlier on Monday, former prosecutor Star Jones, who has her own show on TruTV, had told TODAY co-host Matt Lauer that Spears could be facing serious legal problems.

She had been ordered in September to take parenting classes and avoid drugs and alcohol when with her children and apparently has not obeyed those orders.

“Child endangerment is a possibility,” Jones said. “Britney may be looking at a contempt of court situation. She has a court order since Sept. 17 of what she’s supposed to do. She has violated that order time and time again.”

But more important, Jones said, is the star’s mental health.

“The first thing is, there needs to be some sort of evaluation mentally on where she stands,” Jones said, adding that Spears’ family could petition a court to have her involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility for evaluation and treatment.

On Sunday, TV psychologist Dr. Phil, who is said to be admired by Spears’ father, Jamie, paid a surprise visit to Spears in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was being kept for evaluation, supposedly for 72 hours.

“According to our sources, Dr. Phil is revered by Jamie Spears, the father, and he asked Dr. Phil to come there as this sort of messianic figure,” Castro told Kotb. “The only problem is Britney didn’t agree with that. As Dr. Phil was talking to her, she was packing and she was out of there.” Slideshow: The Spears years

Castro said Spears has just one person left in her corner, and he wasn’t impressed that it is Adnan Ghalib, 35, a paparazzo who works for Finalpixx. According to People’s Web site, the two have recently spent time in Los Angeles area motels and on Sunday, after she walked out of the hospital before her 72-hour commitment was up, they went to the Daily Grill in Palm Desert around 10 a.m.

The magazine quoted a Grill employee as saying she ordered a champagne mimosa cocktail.

“No one can believe she hooked up with this guy,” Castro said. “People believe he’s going to sell his story, the story of ‘My Love of Britney,’ for millions of dollars.”

Boiling point
Castro said that Spears has been an eruption waiting to happen as her personal life has continued to spiral out of control. The slide seemed to have accelerated when she lost custody of her children.

“Apparently, Britney was a ticking time bomb,” Castro said. “She was sort of giving these airs that she was OK with this whole custody thing — being very cool about it, going out and about — but, in fact, she snapped. Our sources tell us that on the day they came over to take the kids away, she banged her head against the wall and went completely mental and finally just had it.”

Jones said she needs real help, not grand gestures by celebrities.

“Somebody’s got to step in, and it can’t be a television psychologist,” she said in a barely veiled shot at Dr. Phil. “It has to be somebody who’s going to take care of her.”

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