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We're beginning to think that Larry Rudolph may truly be the master of spinning scandals into gold. Ever since reuniting with her former stardom wizard, Britney Spears has gone from umbrella-swinging, gurney-riding American Tragedy to a slimmed down working girl with vastly improved extensions to boot. Rudolph's latest strategy has been sending Spears to the gym to shed any leftover pounds from her previous diet of lollipops and Cheetos, in addition to making damn well sure she treks to the recording studio. But the news isn't all sunshine and rainbows: it seems tension between Spears and unicorn-rider Neil Patrick Harris, coupled with a return to some bad habits, are threatening the comeback we've been patiently waiting for.

As the Daily Mail reports, Britney may have giggled her way through a treadmill workout in LA last week, but "Britney's hard work may be counter-productive - she was spotted with a packet of Marlboro reds as she left the gym." Reds? Really? Not that we, ahem, smoke or anything, but our friends tell us Reds tend to wreak havoc faster than most cancer sticks. Nevertheless, a giddy cover story in Star claims Spears has shed a whopping 20 pounds since Rudolph put her on the straight and narrow. If only grumpy HIMYM star Neil Patrick Harris would quit whining about her upcoming return to the show, Britney's Comeback Tour could finally progress a bit speedier.