WHAT IN THE WORLD has happened to Amanda Bynes? Five years ago we spoke with Amanda for back-to-back movies ("She's the Man," "Hairspray") and found her to be one of the friendliest, most professional young stars (along with Dakota Fanning and Keira Knightley) we'd ever interviewed.
She was honest, funny and remembered our first chat six months later, whereas most actors don't recall their interview with you while you're still in the room packing up your notepad.
So, it's been more than a little disturbing to see Amanda's recent slide into bizarro world.
Following a series of driving mishaps, a "Fashion Police" photo that would evoke pity from a crack addict and a body-snatchers police mug shot, Bynes has been filling the gap left vacant when Paris Hilton fell off the radar and Lindsay Lohan went back to work.
On Sept. 9, Amanda was pulled over by police for driving without her lights on, TMZ.com and the Los Angeles Times reported, and even though her license had been suspended (driving without a license is a must for Hollywood starlets) she was merely given a warning.
Amanda's license had been suspended after she was charged with hit-and-run in connection with two traffic crashes.
Los Angeles prosecutors accused Amanda of leaving the scene of the two accidents, one on April 10 and another on Aug. 4, without providing proper information. The first incident occurred just days after she was arrested on suspicion of driving drunk. She has pleaded not guilty in that case.
On Sunday, at the Burbank airport, Amanda was caught again with a suspended license and this time her black BMW was impounded.
Tweeted Lindsay: "Why did I get put in jail and a nickelodeon star has had NO punishment(s) so far?"
There are reasons, but we get the point.
Making matters more confusing, TMZ.com has recently reported that witnesses say that Amanda has been spotted talking to inanimate objects, and the website ran a photo of her smoking what appeared to be a pot pipe in her car.
Amanda, however, has told friends that she doesn't smoke weed, "everything's fine," and her mental issues are being blown "way out of proportion."
Maybe not. Late yesterday, a variety of Internet sources reported that Amanda would go to rehab for 30 days - although it's unclear for what.
* In Keira Knightley news, although she seems to be in a good place personally (engaged to marry musician James Righton) and professionally ("Anna Karenina" opens in November) right now, Keira tells the October Vogue that there was a time when she wasn't so happy - when the fame from such roles as "Bend It Like Beckham" and the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise was too intense. Keira says that she "literally had no life outside of acting" and desired to "not be 'on' all the time."
Instead of working, she cooked, read books and lived in France.
All that reading paid off: Keira remains one of the most interesting of movie-star interviews.
Another Hall?The American Pop Music Hall of Fame - in Canonsburg, Pa., of all places - won't be open until next summer, but the first round of nominees for induction has been announced.
The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra are among the top 40 nominees, which will be cut to 20 next May. Other nominees include the Beach Boys, Tony Bennett, The Carpenters, Chubby Checker, Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond and Simon and Garfunkel.
The new hall is scheduled to open next July in a temporary home in what's now a Canonsburg cafe. Fund-raising is under way for a permanent building.
Music fans can vote for their favorite nominees online starting later this week. Eligible artists must have lodged a national hit between 1946 and 1975.
Canonsburg calls itself the country's "small town music capital" and boasts native sons including Perry Como, Bobby Vinton and the Four Coins.
TATTBITS* Philadelphia native and Penn alum Carly has come a long way since singing the national anthem before Big 5 basketball games at the Palestra. Her 21st Century Girl project has successfully licensed electro-pop songs to more than 30 TV shows, she sang back-up for Cee Lo Green at the Grammy Awards and now she's working on an album of modern adult-contemporary songs under the name Carly Robyn Green.
But first she'll be featured on the new "Jekyll & Hyde" 2012 Concept Recording with Deborah Cox and Constantine Maroulis. The CD is being released this month by Broadway Records to coincide with the launch of a national "Jekyll & Hyde" "revisal" tour, which hits Philadelphia in December.
* Chris Brown is scheduled to return to a Los Angeles courtroom for the first time in more than a year amid questions about his community service.
The R&B singer is on probation for the 2009 beating of his then-girlfriend Rihanna and had been ordered to perform six months' worth of community service, including graffiti removal, roadside cleanup and other manual labor.
Brown has completed his terms with praise from a judge, however, a prosecutor raised concerns about how many hours he had completed.
And his ridiculous neck tattoo.
- Daily News wire services
contributed to this report.