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EXCLUSIVE: Nicole Richie Steps in to Help Mischa Barton

Jul. 28 2009, Published 4:22 a.m. ET

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When times get tough, it’s nice to know who your friends are. And in the case of Mischa Barton, that friend is Nicole Richie. has learned exclusively that Nicole, (a former wild child herself) has stepped in to help Mischa as she recuperates from the meltdown that landed her in the hospital under an involuntary psychiatric hold earlier this month.

“Mischa is doing great -- thanks to Nicole,” a source close to both girls told exclusively. “She stepped in and talked to her about making changes in her life… basically doing a 360.”

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When it comes to changing her life, Nicole knows how to do it. After she was arrested in 2006 for DUI, (where she admitted to having taken vicodin and smoking pot,) Richie made some changes of her own -- and is now expecting her second baby with boyfriend Joel Madden.

“Mischa and Nicole have been friends for years, but when Nic had Harlow, she became more domestic,” the source said.

So what’s Richie’s plan for her pal?

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“Mischa isn’t even smoking anymore, thanks to Nicole,” the source told “Nicole told Mischa that she has to straighten up because she has a lot riding on this new show (The Beautiful Life).”

It looks like Barton has another ally as well -- The Beautiful Life’s creator, Ashton Kutcher!

“Ashton is backing her up,” the source said. “She’s determined to get it together.”



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