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September 11, 2008 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-09-11

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t

6B - Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

0

POP C 1 1U, 2TiEl cg l
Out of the publicist's eye

Celebrities are leaving
their publicists even
as bloggers expose
their every move
By SASHA RESENDE
Daily Arts Writer
Who needs a publicist any-
more? The Internet-age reality is
that practically no one does, not
even the celebrity demigods of Los
Angeles. Gawker Media recently
reported that Brad Pitt, one half
of the Brangelina empire, dropped
his publicist. Despite this enor-
mous personal career decision,
Pitt has been drifting through the
world with next to no negative
coverage. Angelina herself has no
full-time staffer paid to dismiss
every bit of dirty gossip about
her that enters the blogosphere.
When did celebrities gain the right
to pick and choose whether they
must hire a full-time flack team to
counterbalance all the rumors -
whether minuscule or gargantuan
- that their celebrity status will
inevitably spawn?
Times are a-changin' in Hol-
lywood and Manhattan. Horrible
rumors will surface no matter how
saintly and charity-driven a celeb
is. But the fact of the matter is that
many rumors receiving extensive
coverage in the blogosphere have
at least some basis of truth behind
them. One blatant
example is Britney
Spears's reported
bipolar disorder =
and heavy drug
use throughout
2007 which
inevitably led
to more than
one invol-
untary 5150
psychiatric
hold and the
custodial
loss of her
two' infant
sons.
Is Spears
really a
APPHOTO

chose to do a front-page feature,
painting the family in the best
possible light given the circum-
stances. While the family still got
its fair share of ridicule for the
disclosure, it was minuscule com-
pared to what might have hap-
pened had the news been reported
by a publicist, or worse, leaked on
Perez Hilton's gossip blog.
As many of these stars mature
by creating families or actually
growing up, many begin to intui-
tively realize that it probably isn't
such a great idea to stumble out of
Hyde Lounge five nights a week
or be involved in yet another DUI
conviction. As these stars become
active in more charity organiza-
tions and express their typically
liberal political views, the public
tends to see them more favorably,
whether or not they had a sordid,
sex-drugs-and-rock'n'roll tinged
past.
Angelina Jolie - mother of
six, anti-poverty crusader and an
admitted former heroin fiend - is
the perfect example of this drastic
change in public perception. And
she, unlike the Olsen Twins and
Lindsay Lohan, isn't constantly
coached by a well-paid PR rep.
AP PHOTOS Will other stars follow suit?
Given the new reality of 24-hour
Perez Hilton, these blogs are still blogging and heavily-circulated
not viewed by the public as "legiti- TMZ videos, celebrities now have
mate" compared to published a choice: either live up the pious
magazine articles. image they hope to, cultivate or
Enter- OK! Magazine, a print simply live out their party-driven
tabloid weekly run by former L.A. lives in a shroud of secrecy. Not
flack Rob Shuter, which prides all of us can be Brangelina,
itself on getting the best so many up-and-coming
celeb exclusives in Hol- stars will have to make
lywood. It was OK' that this compromise now
got the "Jamie-Lynn's that PR-statements are
knocked up!" exclusive increasingly viewed
when the 16-year-old as a joke by a skepti-
Nickelodeon starlet (and cal public. While this
younger sister of new reality signals a
Britney herself) brave new world in
reported she terms of celebrity
had a bun in the livelihood, blog-
oven. Rather based rumors
than giving out are certainly a
a formal press .'. lot more fun to
release with read than some
the insidious overpaid hack's
information, the distortion of the
Spears family "truth."

6
6
6
6

Worst. Threesome. Ever.
bipolar drug addict? I can only
speculate, and I'm not sure we'll
ever know. But at the time of her
24/7-reported public meltdown,
Spears was not being represented
by anyone, unless you count the
mischievous Sam Lutfi who alleg-
edly - on the word of Spears's
own mother, who is about to
release a tell-all memoir -
force fed his "client" sleeping
pills to shut her up during her
manic "episodes."
Spears is a unique case of
a celebrity who absolute-
ly needs a publicist
to direct her every
action and rep-
resent her in
the most PR-
friendly way
possible.
Had she been
given compe-
tent public relations

representation during her well-
publicized divorce from KFed, the
public wouldn't have been fed the
never-ending parade of Britney's
self-destruction via YouTube or
popular celebrity blogs. Since her
several forced hospitalizations,
Spears's father has taken control
of her finances and hired a full-
time team to control the singer's
media image.
Spears - who recently won
three VMA awards after her disas-
trous performance last year - has
since regained partial custody and
is on her way to regaining her for-
mer pop queen title. Despite this
one exceptional case, a publicist
is not essential for a celebrity to
appear holier-than-thou to their
public audience.
Given this new Internet-
spawned reality of constant celeb-
rity coverage - whether it be
through simple gossip blogging

or more precise devices such as
Gawker's celebrity "stalker" map
in NYC - many stars adjusted to
this new reality, altering their
images before a leak of pictures of
them drunkenly stumbling down
5thAvenue. This newlurker-esque
surveillance of popular celebri-
ties has, in effect, de-legitimized
the pre-packaged PR statements
of yesteryear which typically fol-
lowed a serious celeb flare-up.
Lindsay Lohan did just this
when she issued a pre-packaged
statement following her first DUI
and cocaine arrest in May 2007.
Unfortunately for her, this plea
didn'tseemtoo heartfeltwhensev-
eral images surfaced on the Inter-
net of the underage star passed out
in the front seat of a car only a few
days-after said arrest. Despite the
proliferation of such celebrity-ob-
sessed blogs like Dlisted, Defamer,
TMZ and the king of celeb trash,

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