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Britney’s ‘Blackout’: It takes a village

Britney Spears’ new album “Blackout” debuted Tuesday, and I might have been a little harsh about her actual contribution to the disc. The album's producers and songwriters are giving props to the popstar now.

Britney Spears’ new album, “Blackout,” debuted yesterday, and I might have been a little harsh. I claimed that it takes a village to create the voice and songs you hear on the CD, and the positive reviews for Britney’s latest effort should really just be directed toward her producers and songwriters. Well, it’s those producers and songwriters who are giving props to the pop star now.

“I had a great time working with her; she works hard,” Sean Garrett, who produced the track “Toy Soldier,” told OK! magazine. Keri Hilson, who penned “Gimme More,” agrees that Spears was dedicated to making the album great — even while seven months pregnant (a detail that slipped my mind, truth be told). “She was so focused,” Hilson told OK!  “She gave 150 percent.”

‘Dirty Sexy Money’ death?“Dirty Sexy Money,” the prime-time soap that revolves around the despicable Darling family, is about to have a major plot twist.  A person very familiar with the show’s script tells me that one of the Darlings gets shot in an upcoming episode. Which one? My source is keeping mum for now, but assures me we won’t have a who-killed-J.R. situation on our hands. “It should be resolved in a fairly obvious way,” says the source.

What’s the deal with the writers strike?
At midnight Wednesday, the writers who create the movies and television shows you love — everything from daytime talk shows to evening dramas — could be going on strike. So what does it mean for you?

Celebrity Sightings

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Celebrity Sightings

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Let’s start with the good news: film won’t be affected very quickly. Screenwriter John Ridley, who wrote “Three Kings,” explains to me, “Whatever's on the slate to be released for fall/winter is written and on some kind of production schedule so they can shoot films until, say, late spring when the actors and directors are supposed to go on strike — which probably won't happen.” More good news: Many of your favorite television shows already have enough episodes in the wings that during the short term, sitcoms and dramas won’t be affected too much. Which brings me to the bad news ...

“That's why the writers have to strike now,” says Ridley. “Because it'll choke off the supply of TV shows by end of January next year.” That means shows such as “Lost,” which aren't slated to premiere until this winter, could be in trouble.

Now let’s get to the gossip: I’m hearing that some networks actually want the strike to happen. One Hollywood insider told me, “The TV season is so [lousy] this year that the studios would actually want a strike so they can basically dump all their crap shows without having to pay out all the cast and crew.”

Stay tuned ...

And in case you missed it…
The inquest into the death of Anna Nicole Smith’s son has been delayed until Nov. 19 because of Tropical Storm Noel. About 35 witnesses are expected to testify before the coroner’s jury. Daniel Smith died Sept. 10, 2006.

NBC announced it will do a spin-off of “The Office,” a la ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy/Private Practice.” The big difference? The “Office” spin-off will star characters yet to be introduced on the show. Interesting.

Courtney Hazlett delivers The Scoop Monday through Friday on