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This is Britney’s Future, ‘More’ or Less

by Karen Thomas

spears-LAXxThe next two weeks could be a make-it-or-break-it chapter for Britney Spears. With Friday’s release of her single Gimme More from her album due Nov. 13 and her weekend appearance to open the LAX club in Las Vegas, the beleaguered pop star is juggling some vital dates in both career and family affairs. USA TODAY, with Amanda Sanders of New York Image Consultants, dissects the challenges ahead:

Tuesday: A Los Angeles family court hearing is scheduled regarding custody of Spears’ two sons with ex-husband Kevin Federline. Spears’ lawyer has asked for a continuance in a custody hearing set for Sept. 17.

Expert says: “If the hearing can get postponed, it would be smart so that her personal troubles can get under the radar.”

Sunday: Spears is expected to perform two songs —Gimme More and Cry— at MTV’s Video Music Awards in Las Vegas. Dancer Ruben Dario told heybritney.com that her performance will include a mirror in which she will appear and disappear (which is why she was working with illusionist Criss Angel last month).

Expert says: “She can have a public image that says mom-and-pop icon and do it tastefully. In the past, she has used these performances to inject shock value, but she needs to avoid it this time. She’s a little bit older, and she should look a little wiser.”

Sept. 12, 14: Son Jayden James turns 1. Son Sean Preston turns 2.

Expert says: “The public needs to see a wholesome family gathering that is age-appropriate. I’m not saying she should go to Chuck E. Cheese, but it needs to be something mainstream that the rest of America can relate to.”

Sept. 14: A Los Angeles hearing is set to hear arguments from lawyers for media outlets that want court records in the Spears/Federline divorce and custody case made public. The couple’s divorce was final July 30, when lawyers won a conditional order to have the records sealed.

Expert says: “If she shows up in appropriate attire, the public might find believable that she’s interested in what’s going on. Public empathy can go a long way if they believe she’s not just using her money to win this battle.”

Sept. 17: Custody hearing scheduled for Los Angeles. Federline wants to modify the current agreement, which gives eachparent equal custody. Federline is seeking primary custody.

Expert says: “Right now, middle America cannot relate to Spears as a young mother in the middle of a custody battle. She needs to keep her personal affairs under the radar. At this point, she really has to fight for her kids.”