(AFP) – Jan 4, 2008
LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Britney Spears was being evaluated at a Los Angeles hospital early Friday after being taken from her home by paramedics following the latest twist to the troubled pop star's custody battle.
Spears was wheeled out of her home on a stretcher late Thursday following a stand-off which began when she reportedly refused to release her two children, Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1 to ex-husband Kevin Federline's bodyguard.
Video footage of the incident shown on celebrity news websites and television reports showed Spears alternately smiling and looking distraught as she was lifted into an ambulance.
Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Jason Lee said Spears was being detained and evaluated in hospital because officers had found her under the influence of an unknown substance.
Lee said police had been called to Spears' home at 8 pm Thursday (0400 GMT Friday) to resolve a custody dispute.
At around 10:30 pm paramedics and an ambulance arrived and shortly afterwards the two children were turned over to Federline after police reviewed court documents, Lee said.
Police could not confirm celebrity news website reports that Spears' youngest son Jayden James had also been taken to the hospital, Lee adding only that there were "no reportable injuries to anyone involved."
People magazine reported on its website that Spears had been placed under a 72-hour lock down for evaluation at Cedars Sinai known as a "5150".
Spears, one of the most successful pop stars of her generation, has been embroiled in a bitter custody battle with Federline ever since the couple separated in late 2006.
Lawyers for Spears and Federline held a court hearing early Friday and were due to return before a judge later. Reports speculated Federline's lawyers will seek to have Spears' access to the children curtailed.
A judge limited the pop star's access to her children in October after she failed to submit to random drug testing as demanded at an earlier hearing where the court ruled Spears was a "habitual and continuous" drug user."
Earlier Thursday Spears began a court-ordered deposition in the custody case after missing several appointments to do so, but appeared for questioning by Federline's lawyer so late that it lasted only 13 minutes, USmagazine reported.
The day before, her lawyers had requested to leave her case, citing "a breakdown in communications" with Spears that made "further representation of her interests impossible."
The court-room drama rumbled throughout a difficult year for Spears that saw her rarely out of the tabloid headlines. She was repeatedly photographed in nightspots wearing no underwear and was also captured bizarrely shaving her head in a hair salon and attacking a photographer's car with an umbrella. Those episodes were followed by a stint in a rehabilitation treatment center.
In September Spears attempted to resurrect her career but suffered a critical savaging after a live performance at the Video Music Awards.
Nevertheless the release of her first album in four years in October, "Blackout," offered Spears some encouragement with critics broadly hailing the work as a success.
But Spears' family was back in the headlines again last month when it emerged that the singer's 16-year-old sister, the star of a popular US television children's show, was pregnant.
Spears shot to superstardom in late 1998, with her smash-hit debut album "Baby One More Time" which she followed with another chart-topping success the following year, "Oops! ... I Did It Again."
According to Time magazine, Spears has sold over 76 million records worldwide, and her 31 million albums sold in the United States make her the eighth best-selling female artist in US music history.
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