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Is Britney’s label pushing her too hard?

Britney Spears will release her sixth studio album on Dec. 2. But sources close to her wonder: Is her record label pushing the troubled singer too hard?
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Britney Spears’ label recently announced that Spears will release her sixth studio album, “Circus,” on Dec. 2.

While some might consider the new work a marker of Spears’ improving health, some close to her fear that now that the worst seems to be over, she’s going to be treated as little more than a cash cow.

“Britney has been going to the studio ever since she got out of the hospital, but it was more a therapeutic exercise than anything," says a source close to the Spears family. “The people who really care about her knew that even though she wants to be the pop star she used to be, it won’t be good for her. Even her label, Jive, understood that. It’s a little unsettling to us that they’d want her to get back to recording so fast.”

There’s also the question of how the album can be put together so quickly. One source close to Jive says that the swift turnaround won’t be an issue.

“She’s not Paul Simon. As long as it’s produced well and has a good beat, she’ll have a hit,” says the source. “Really, the quicker we do it, the better it will be. You shouldn’t overthink some things.”

Ashlee Simpson pregnancy updateBreaking news: Ashlee Simpson’s ever-changing hair color poses no risk to her baby.

Simpson, who is due in November, “didn’t want to stop dying her hair,” according to In Touch magazine, “so she uses herbal hair color that’s safe for pregnant women.”

Glad that’s settled.

Mr. Big goes to Washington
Who says there’s no life after “Sex and the City”?

Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. on the "Let's Be Cops," red carpet, Selena Gomez is immortalized in wax and more.

Chris Noth, aka Mr. Big, is the latest celeb to take to the Broadway stage. He’s joined the cast of “Farragut North,” in which he’ll play a “veteran political operative and a manager to an insurgent presidential campaign.”

In other Washington-themed entertainment news, I hear that Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is working on a new documentary, “McCain’s America.” The doc will air on HBO and is expected to premiere in February.

Fashionable first lady Laura Bush
Kirsten Dunst might be on the cover of the October Harper’s Bazaar, but the magazine’s interview with first lady Laura Bush is getting lots of buzz, too.

In the article, “Laura Bush Looks into the Future,” the first lady is photographed wearing clothes by one of her favorite designers, Oscar de la Renta.

Escada and Carolina Herrera are also mentioned as first lady favorites.

Also notable: Bush speaks of “afterlife” in the interview, only in her case, she’s referring to life after January, when she’ll move back to Texas.

“I’m looking forward to the afterlife, as I call it,” she said in the interview.

More celeb sightings
Thanks to fashion week and the beginning of the fall television season, there’s more than the usual number of celeb sightings to report, hence this special midweek edition. “Lipstick Jungle” held its season premiere Sept. 14 at Studio 450. Lindsay Price, Rob Buckley, Andrew McCarthy, Brooke Shields, Kim Raver and Natasha Bedingfield all attended the Maybelline-sponsored bash. ... Olympic gold medalist Amanda Beard stopped into the Nintendo DS spa at the Bryant Park Hotel Sept. 8 to play games and get primped by the Sephora beauty team. ... R&B artist Ne-Yo and “90210” star Shannen Doherty were spotted dining at opposite ends of Kobe Club New York Sept. 9. ... Tim Gunn gamely chatted with fans at the Tenjune Tent Bar before the Anna Sui show Sept. 10. ... Chace Crawford was spotted playing Coors Light beer pong at Southern Hospitality Sept 9, just one day after NY Giant James Butler celebrated his birthday there.

Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on