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OH, HUGH

Why would Hugh Grant, the dashing young Englishman who has charmed Hollywood and women everywhere with his bashful grin, pay for sex?

The question had Hollywood atwitter after Grant's arrest early Tuesday as he allegedly indulged in a sex act with a Sunset Boulevard prostitute in his white BMW.

"Last night I did something completely insane," Grant said in a statement without elaborating. "I have hurt people I love and embarrassed people I work with. For both things, I am more sorry than I can ever possibly say."

It would appear that the suave, 34-year-old Grant could have anything he desires: He has got stardom, wealth, good looks and a loyal following after movies that include Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain.

His live-in girlfriend is Estee Lauder's new model Elizabeth Hurley. They've been together about eight years.

Grant was in Los Angeles to promote his upcoming movie Nine Months, about a guy (Grant) who finds out he's going to be a father. Shortly before 1:30 a.m., vice officers allegedly saw Divine Brown, 23, walk up to Grant's car and get in.

"They were later observed to be engaged in an act of lewd conduct," Officer Lori Taylor said.

Grant and Brown were booked for investigation of misdemeanor lewd conduct in a public place and released without bail for arraignment July 18. They could get up to six months in jail.

Entertainment writer Art Murphy doesn't think Grant's career will be damaged. "Nowadays I think people might just raise their eyebrows at the indiscretion of it all," said Murphy, who analyzes box office performance for the Hollywood Reporter.

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