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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The crazy pink wig hasn't been seen for weeks, late night dashes to the psychiatric ward have ceased and there are no more pictures without panties. Could no news finally be good news for Britney Spears?
It has been a barren couple of months for scandal about Spears, 26, whose life became a front-page disaster in 2007 and early 2008 when she lost custody of her children, shaved her head, was seen distinctly underdressed at parties and was twice hospitalized for psychiatric evaluation.
Out of the limelight and under the guardianship of her father, Spears appears to be making so much progress that some people are even talking about a comeback.
"She has almost come back from the dead," said Harvey Levin, managing editor of celebrity Web site TMZ.com which still reports on her every move.
"She is happy again, she seems stable. She is seeing her kids again, she is trying to get her recording career back. The crazy conduct is not there anymore. She is a different human being from how she was three months ago," Levin told Reuters.
Apart from a minor traffic incident on April 12 -- the kind of "fender-bender" experienced by virtually every Angeleno with a car -- the only recent news about Spears has been good.
She's been regularly working out at the gym and taking dance classes. She surprised critics with a sassy guest appearance in the TV sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" and has been photographed playing happily with her two sons after striking a visitation deal with ex-husband Kevin Federline.
Spears also has reconciled with her ex-manager Larry Rudolph, the man who was responsible for taking a 16-year old kid from Louisiana and making her the world's best known pop star at the turn of the 21st century.
"I've seen her probably about three or four times over the past couple of weeks and she's in great shape," Rudolph said in a MySpace Celebrity blog. "I think she's really well on the road to getting back to the Britney everybody knows and loves."
Spears' father appears to have been key in bringing about the transformation.
In February -- after Spears was taken by ambulance to a psychiatric unit for the second time in a month -- Jamie Spears was appointed by a Los Angeles judge to take control of his daughter's personal and business affairs until July 31.
The Spears family also won a restraining order against Sam Lutfi, the former self-styled manager accused by Britney's mother, Lynne, of drugging her daughter to take control of her life and finances.
In recent weeks Lutfi's spokesman has said his client and the family are cooperating, while the restraining order stays in effect until July 31.
A recent survey by E-Poll Market Research, which polls fans about stars, shows Spears' negative appeal falling to 19 percent from 29 percent in January.
Her medical problems have never been clarified, but she is widely reported to have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Dr. Gail Saltz, associate professor of psychiatry at New York's Presbyterian Hospital, warned that it was too soon to declare Spears out of the woods.
"All the issues that one suspects may be going on -- and those we know like divorce and child custody -- are not resolvable in a few weeks. People can appear to get better for a while and then relapse," said Saltz.
Spears has been spotted in recent days inside a Los Angeles recording studio for the first time in a year.
"I think everybody is rooting for her.... And when she comes back, I think it is going to be huge," Rudolph said.
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and David Storey)
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