Hype helps Federline’s case

By Sandy Cohen

LOS ANGELES — Kevin Federline’s attorney can’t complain about the intense interest in his client’s child-custody battle with Britney Spears.

He doesn’t grumble about the television trucks and news reporters swarming the courthouse every time there’s a hearing, or the paparazzi who hound the pop princess every moment there isn’t. And he’s certainly not opposed to the TV reports, tabloids and Web sites that have documented every shred of the case that has consumed him for the past 18 months.

After all, the attention has saved his side some major cash.

“If I had to hire an investigator or investigators to provide me with the intelligence about what’s going on, where they are, how are they doing,” said Mark Vincent Kaplan, “it would be north of half a million to a million dollars ... as opposed to buying People magazine for $3.95 on Thursday morning or going on TMZ.”

On May 6, the 61-year-old attorney emerged from Superior Court in Los Angeles where, for the first time in months, there was positive news to report about the former couple’s custody tug-of-war: Spears was to have longer visits with her children.

The change, he said, was “recognition of the progress that has been made, a progress in structure and stability.”

Days later, he sat down with The Associated Press at his high-rise office near Beverly Hills, letting on that those inside the case were viewing it through the same prism as the rest of us.

“Everyone who had a big toe in this case at every level followed what was going on by looking at the Web sites,” he said.

Spears has always been an irresistible media target, but the 26-year-old’s split from Federline launched a series of antics that amplified coverage of her life. The pop star appeared in public without underwear, shaved her own head at a suburban salon and beat a car with an umbrella. She checked in and out of rehab, got into fender-benders, inexplicably spoke with a British accent and made a paparazzo her personal companion.

Twice she was rushed by ambulance to local hospitals, drawing hordes of helicopters each time.

“No other case has had the media addiction and frenzy that surrounded this case and these people 24-7,” he said. “There’s never been anything like this, and there probably won’t be for a while.”

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