NEW YORK – Every celebrity needs a cause, and apparently for Britney’s hubby K-Fed the more bizarre the cause, the better.
How out there are we talking here? How about a quest to save the penny from extinction?
Yes, you read that right. Kevin Federline isn’t taking on just any old cause célèbre — like saving whales, baby seals, starving children or even the planet. He isn’t trying to fight a disease, preserve the environment or reduce reliance on oil. No, the formerly penniless Mr. Spears wants to protect those pesky little copper coins worth one cent each that take up a lot of room in your change purse.
Federline arrived in New York City's Times Square on Wednesday in a truck covered in pennies, wearing an Abraham Lincoln mask, to sign a "Save the Penny" petition against a bill in Washington, D.C., that’s trying to bid farewell to the one-cent piece for good.
“What’s happening, New York!” he said when he took his turn at the mike. “We’re bringing power back to the penny. Man, I feel good about the penny!”
We are not making this up, we assure you.
Federline teamed up with Virgin Mobile — the wireless technology arm of the Virgin Group, the music and travel giant — and Americans for Common Cents for the event, which was held just across the street from the Virgin Records Megastore.
Virgin founder and chairman Sir Richard Branson was also scheduled to attend, but couldn’t make it because of “plane trouble,” according to some Virgin Mobile representatives.
Federline’s signature was the first on the petition onstage with him. In an effort to promote Virgin Mobile’s “Penny Texting,” a plan offering 1,000 text messages for $9.99 a month, Britney’s husband then encouraged the audience to text him and held up a poster with a number to send messages to. He also appeared to be furiously texting himself.
“Who are you texting?!” a few paparazzi shouted.
“My wife!” Federline announced, grinning.
That was all he would say about the pregnant Spears, who recently came under fire again for an emotional interview she did with NBC’s Matt Lauer. In the "Dateline" segment that aired June 15, she looked disheveled with uncombed hair, cried, chomped on gum, lost a fake eyelash and gave snippity, unfiltered-by-agents answers to a few of the more personal questions.
The couple has been dogged for weeks by rumors of an imminent breakup — which would leave Federline counting his pennies for real — but Spears' husband refused to answer questions about Britney, their toddler son Sean Preston or the second child they have on the way.
Federline promised to take up a cause for children earlier this year, and in this case all pennies collected on the “‘Save the Penny’ campaign trail,” as it’s called, will benefit The RE*Generation, a charity that tries to connect kids with activist groups.
“When I first got onstage, I was a little nervous,” he admitted in a press interview afterwards. “This is my first time doing a charity event.”
Federline said he’s always loved pennies and collected them in a big jar as a child.
But it still doesn’t quite explain why, for his very first cause, the former Britney backup dancer chose this particular one.
We can only speculate. Is it the money he’s being paid? The positive, non-Britney-connected exposure? A diversion from the Spears-Lauer interview? A new activist image he's trying to cultivate? Or simply PR for his first studio album, "Playing With Fire," due out in mid-August?
Your guess is as good as ours. In the meantime, power to the penny, yo.