Moms Gone Wild Sure, mothers always get blamed for everything. Butas a look at the women behind Paris, Lindsay, and Britney revealsif your child is your meal ticket and career booster, it's hard to be the parent she needs. by Judith Newman November 2007 I'm on the phone with Lynne Spears, Britney's mother, when my five-year-old grabs a wad of cash, waves good-bye, and disappears into the elevator. "See?" says Spears as she listens to me scream at my son. "It's not so easy, is it? You can't even get your five-year-old to listen to you." True, my son had not yet publicly flashed his crotch, vomited in his limo, wiped up dog poop with a $6,700 Zac Posen gown, or accused me of forcing him into rehab. But her point is a good one. Mothers take a lot of hits. Some are unfair. Some are not. This year the mothers of Hollywood's wild girlsParis, Lindsay, and Britneyhave found themselves almost as much a part of the tabloid circus as the daughters themselves. A recent cover of Life & Style magazine featured photographs of Britney and Lynne and spewed, i hate you, mama! On June 28, Britney reportedly presented her mother with a letter warning her to keep away from Britney's two kids if she was abusing prescription pain medication. Apparently Britney has rethought the premise behind the book she co-authored with Lynne in 2000, Britney Spears' Heart to Heart, a mutual lovefest between mother and daughter. Dina Lohan, frequently seen living la vida loca with her troubled daughter, has been pitching reality shows, and once told Star magazine that Lindsay's friends called her mother "the white Oprah" because they all told her about their problems. And then there is Kathy Hilton, Paris's mother. Kathy sobbed when Paris was sentenced to jail for driving with a suspended license, calling the 23-day stint "Paris-cide." When Paris was released, her mother came to pick her up, seated at the open window of an S.U.V. in full hair and makeup as the cameras flashed. Kathy Hilton appeared ready for her close-up. "All these crazy daughters and their mothers!" says Janice Min, editor in chief of Us Weekly. "These girls have one thing in common: troubled childhoods." (Mysteriously, the stage fathers tend to get more of a free pass: Joe Simpson does not get a lot of criticism for running the lives of daughters Jessica and Ashlee.) There are plenty of stars whose mothers are their constant companions and succor; Justin Timberlake and Leo DiCaprio, to name two, escort their moms to big events all the time. But they don't make good copy. More intriguing are the parents who seem hell-bent on helping their children realize their dreams. But what dreams? And whose? If ever there was a woman to make Gypsy Rose Lee look shy and unassuming, it's Kathleen Elizabeth Avanzino Richards Hilton. Hilton was herself the daughter of a stage mother, the pretty, vivacious Kathy Dugan, known to everyone as Big Kathy. Dugan, writes Jerry Oppenheimer in his 2006 book, House of Hilton, was an Irish Catholic high-school dropout who grew up in Manhasset, Long Island, eventually marrying four times. She told her daughters again and again that marrying rich wasn't a goal; it was the goal. From the time Big Kathy's children were infants, they were in the spotlight. Little Kathy was only a small child when she started modeling. Eventually Big Kathy moved to L.A. to help boost her daughters' careers. While sisters Kim Richards and Kyle Richards are working as actresses today (Kyle in frequent TV gigs and Kim most recently as Christina Ricci's mother in Black Snake Moan), Big Kathy's namesake snared only a few bit parts, on shows such as The Rockford Files and Happy Days. "Of course Kathy wanted to be a star," says Hollywood party cougar and Hilton friend Nikki Haskell. "Who didn't?" Kathy never got her big break, but she did find her Prince Charming. According to Oppenheimer, she had known Ricky Hiltonthe sixth child of eight born to Barron Hiltonsince they were teenagers, and they began dating seriously in 1978. Rick was a sweet University of Denver party boy. (Not that the entrepreneurial Hilton spirit was dead within him: he was known for throwing fabulous parties at the Denver Hilton and charging students 20 bucks a head.) Soon he was smitten with Kathy, and the two were married in Beverly Hills on November 24, 1979. They have, by all accounts, a very loving marriage (Rick is known to call his wife "Mommy," the New York Post noted in 2005), though whether that love is shared by the extended Hilton family is questionable. In 1981, Kathy had Paris, whom she nicknamed "Star." From infancy, says Oppenheimer, mother and grandmother told the angelically pretty little girl that she would be bigger than Marilyn Monroe, bigger than Princess Di. All she needed was a little boost. (Kathy Hilton did not respond to V.F.'s requests for comment.) "After my research I came away with sympathy for Paris," says Oppenheimer. "When she was a kid she thought about becoming a veterinarian. But she had no chance to do anything but what she has done." (For her part, Paris once told a reporter that her professional dreams changed when she realized she "could just buy a bunch of animals.") "Kathy and Rick would host parties at these little clubs in New York, where they'd hand out flyerssomething like 'Young and Rich Party hosted by Nicky and Paris Hilton,'" says Suzan Hughes, who was married to Herbalife founder Mark Hughes and is godmother to Kathy's younger son, Conrad IV. "You throw a great party, you get a celeb to show upor you say that a celeb will show upand when the camera crews come the celeb may not be there, but there's your gorgeous daughter, dancing on a table. That's how it all began." Hilton observers all have their favorite story about Kathy's curious lack of appropriateness. For former Daily News gossip columnist Lloyd Grove, it was this: "When Paris went on Saturday Night Live after the release of her sex tape, in 2003, she did this bit with Jimmy Fallon where he wasn't allowed to discuss the sex scandal, but he asked her all these double-entendre questions about 'the Paris Hilton [Hotel],' like 'Is it hard to get into the Paris Hilton?,' 'I may need to go in the back entrance,' 'I'd love to have my balls held by the Paris Hilton,' etc., etc. And wouldn't you know, Kathy and Rick were there with their two young boys. Afterwards, Kathy was saying, 'Wasn't your sister great? Wasn't she funny?'and these two boys, who were barely teenagers, had to listen to this whole thing about their sister being in a porn tape. It was just so awful."