Who knows what happened to Britney Spears Thursday night, but she sure does know how to put on a show. The pop star did her best to steal headlines away from the Iowa caucuses by getting into a fight with her Fed Ex, which eventually led to Britney's being carted out on a gurney in front of a horde of photographers in the middle of the night. Spears then checked into a Los Angeles hospital, where she could remain for as long as two weeks. For those of you who have been focused on the race for the White House, here's a timeline of the night:
8 p.m. Los Angeles police are called to resolve a custody problem at Spears's residence. Kevin Federline had sent his bodyguard (he's the good parent) to get the couple's kids—Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1—as part of a court-ordered agreement. Britney won't give them up.
By 11 p.m. six police cars, two ambulances and a fire truck are on the scene. A smiling Britney is wheeled out and photographed. She's conscious and smiling like Paula Abdul on "American Idol." The Los Angeles Times and other outlets quote police sources as saying the pop star would be tested at the hospital for alcohol and drugs, but a spokesperson later says only that Spears has been transferred to the hospital for medical treatment.
In the next hour Spears checks into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where's she's held for the night. A source at the hospital tells People magazine that Britney is in a 72-hour lockdown for a mental evaluation, since she's considered a danger to herself or others. But privacy laws prevent the staff of Cedars-Sinai from confirming the report, and the Los Angeles Police Department says she hasn't been placed in custody.
12:30 a.m. Her two sons are also taken to the hospital, where they're examined and released.
4:15 a.m. The two boys are finally given to their father.
Friday morning Federline's attorneys call a press conference, only to cancel it at the last minute. They also ask for an emergency custody hearing, meeting with a judge in chambers for half an hour, which is expected to resume Friday afternoon. Surely none of this will play well for Spears. She skipped out on a court-ordered deposition on Wednesday, and at another deposition on Thursday she arrived more than an hour late and stayed for only 14 minutes, prompting her lawyers to be asked to be dismissed from the case.
It was less than a year ago—Feb. 16, 2007—when Britney walked into a Los Angeles barbershop and cut off all her hair. It was a cry for help. But when will she get it?