History's most successful composer,

Andrew Lloyd Webber

, has announced that the long-anticipated sequel to his ridiculously popular middlebrow musical,

Phantom of the Opera

(which has been seen by

80 million

fans in 124 cities worldwide), will be ready by the end of '09.

Phantom: Love Never Dies

takes place 10 years after the original and will be set in New York's Coney Island instead of the Paris Opera.

Webber tells London's The Times that the show will open simultaneously on three continents - in New York, London and possibly Shanghai.

"We've been into the feasibility of rehearsing three companies at once and opening very fast in the three territories," he said. "I think to open . . . in Shanghai would be an enormous thing."

(But, Andy, that's only


continents! We understand if Antarctica was difficult to book. But what about Australia?)

Sooo hot

Britney Spears

, whose name I cruelly omitted yesterday from SideShow's year-in-celebrity report, has been named USA Today's hottest - most talked-about, most-gazed-at, most listened-to - celebrity of the year for the second year in a row. (In '07 she was noted for being a total mess; in '08 for cleaning herself up.) The next three spots on the list are occupied by members of the cringe-inducing, never-ending love triangle of

Angelina Jolie

(No. 2),

Jennifer Aniston

(No. 3), and

Brad Pitt

(No. 4).

Brangelina's baby woes


Angelina Jolie

pregnant? Is her pregnancy life-threatening?

Brangelina has recently denied a mass of reports that the couple are expecting. But Gawker.com reports that one of Brad Pitt's childhood friends in Springfield, Mo., said that just the other day he was waiting on line at the Springfield 8 Theater when he overheard a woman who lives on the same street as Pitt's family saying Brangelina have "announced to the family that they are expecting a new baby."

Seriously, could there be any more reliable sourcing?

But OK! yesterday reported on its Web site that the couple are about to


a new baby. An anon source tells the mag that doctors have advised Angie not to get pregnant because she is "at risk of having a stroke or heart attack." The couple have yet to comment.

Thespianic thievery

Eva Mendes

, who is publicizing the new release

The Spirit

(oh, yes, even the pneuma needs a publicist in this age) gave a most creative response when asked by USAToday.com what she'd steal if she knew she'd never get caught.


Kate Winslet

's roles," Eva said. "All of her roles. . . . she can do no wrong in my eyes. Not only is she the most amazing actress in the entire world, she's nude in a lot of her films, which just shows she's fearless."

No India for Spears

Britney Spears

is not dating Bollywood choreographer

Sandip Soparrkar

, says E!Online, which disputes a report in Brit tabloid the Daily Mirror that says Brit and Sandip went on a romantic holiday getaway in India.

Citing anon sources close to Brit, E! says Brit, who spent Christmas in L.A., has no connection to Sandip.

Madonna, the road warrior

Pollstar says Madonna is the year's biggest concert draw in North America, having raked in $105 million since her tour, which launched last summer in Wales, landed in America in October.

Worldwide, the Sticky & Sweet tour has grossed $280 million, making it the highest-grossing tour ever by a solo artist.

Celine Dion

took in $94 million for second place;

the Eagles

($74.3 million) and

Kenny Chesney

($72.2 million) had the third- and fourth-biggest tours.

Madonna, the philanthropist

Madonna gave away $3.1 million to charity last year, amost all of it to the Kabbalah Center of Los Angeles and its offshoot, Spirituality for Kids, says Fox News' Roger Friedman. Citing Madge's tax records, Fox says the Spirtual Mom gave nothing in '07 to her Raising Malawi charity.