Sunday, January 06, 2008

Or maybe "wine into water" would be preferable here.

UPDATE, 8:20 p.m., Sunday night*: Now, during its highly publicized 60 Minutes interview with Roger Clemens, CBS is hyping Dr. Phil's appearance on Monday morning's edition of The Early Show. He's going to talk about his visit with Britney in the hospital psych ward.

Didn't take long for people to figure out how to commercialize this, huh?

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I gotta give the guy credit—the guy being Dr. Phil McGraw. As of this weekend, he has injected himself physically into the Britney Spears debacle. No, I do not mean to imply that he, too, is having sex with Britney (though little would shock me at this point), but merely that he visited her in the hospital after her latest meltdown, and then escorted her personally to the cab that took her home. The reason I give McGraw credit is that this strikes me as a risky step on his part. He is, after all, Dr. Phil, and I'm sure there are some among his millions of faithful who see his entry into the case as the cavalry showing up to restore order and settle the matter once and for all. This group probably believes that within six months, not only will Brit reclaim her brood, but she'll be giving lectures on responsible parenting and, in her spare time, running UNICEF and AA.

On the other hand, some might say McGraw has little to lose, that Spears is so far gone, and so widely maligned in the culture, that only someone also capable of converting water into wine could be expected to rehabilitate either Brit or her sickly public image. In other words, Dr. Phil or no Dr. Phil, it's unlikely at this point that people expect very much from the elder Ms. Spears (and there's still the younger Ms. Spears to deal with). We shall see. Could there be a new Dr. Phil book in the offing: Custody Rescue or, perhaps, The Ultimate Kid-Loss Solution?

On the third hand, of course, it's unlikely that McGraw will play any direct role in Spears' much-needed psychological rebirth. We're just talking perception here.

McGraw, by the way, is already on record as saying that Lynne Spears, putative matriarch in this two-ring circus, did a "great" job raising Brit and Jamie Lynn. (McGraw, you will recall, previously stated that Clara Hitler and Kathleen Manson also did fine jobs raising their kids.... And yes, that qualifies as "obvious satire," if you're from the McGraw/Spears camp and you're reading this blog with litigation in mind.)

You know, the Spears girls are behaving so badly that you almost wonder if the rumors are true. See, supposedly Jamie Lynn wasn't all that upset about turning up preggers, since that gave the media a reason to focus on her instead of her wilder older sib. Which meant in turn that Brit, now, had to go even farther out on a limb to regain the advantage in the buzz wars. What a wacky, entertaining bunch! If only there didn't have to be actual, living children caught in the cross-hairs of all this.

Finally, two quick links to "SHAM in the news": One is an article about self-help by Jen Miller, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer; she quotes me in several places (though I think her choice of quotes was a bit odd, given my recollection of the interview). The second is a slightly longer reprise of my piece on "happiness," this time for the L.A. Daily News.

* The main item, below the === , was posted Sunday morning.

16 comments:

Cal said...

If either Spears or Lohan end up dead it will make the Anna Nicole Smith coverage look like a picnic. I don't care if it would happen (and I'm not saying I want it to) during the weekend before the Prez. election, a Cat-5 hurricane or any other national or world catastrophe.

I remember when Whitney Houston was having serious problems. I heard that either the E! Network or MTV had a special ready in case she died. (In fact, I believe that I heard at one point her death was expected.) I assume that they have similar programs ready for these two.

It's crazy, but Paris Hilton looks like the sane one. All of her "friends" (Lohan, Spears and Nicole Richie) either have drug or psychological problems or both. But I have never heard Hilton having either of those issues. In fact, I become more convinced that it's a big act on her part. Just as I believe Madonna Ciccone's antics were a big act.

Was the coverage of Marilyn Monroe this off the charts for her era? (i.e., before her demise)

Steve Salerno said...

Re Monroe: Let me delicately point out that I was a mere lad of 12 when she died, and my memory of events from that time period is sketchy. (And I have almost no memories before that, for whatever reason.) But I do not recall anything like the unending feeding frenzy that you'd expect from today's media. The American press was astonishingly circumspect about her relationships with the Kennedys by today's standards. It just wasn't openly talked about with any specificity; you certainly didn't have reporters camped out outside the White House, or Monroe's place in Brentwood, like you'd have today. (Of course, this same phenomenon may explain why, today, many feel that we still don't really know exactly what happened to Monroe.)

Part of this has to do with today's global, 24/7 media, and part of it has to do with yesteryear's more "dignified" approach to coverage of people's private lives in all realms. This was especially true in politics prior to Watergate. I'm sure you've heard the stories about how the press purposely underplayed FDR's physical handicaps, to the extent of generally honoring the White House's standing request to not show photos of him in a wheelchair. And I remember how remarkable everyone thought it was that reporters spoke freely about Reagan's colon cancer. Such "embarrassing" matters just weren't discussed, much before then.

Also, the mainstream press, back then, often cooperated in attempts to "protect" Hollywood stars from publicity that might have hurt their careers. This was especially true of leading men who were believed (or even known) to be gay.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Dr. Phil should start with a few easier projects than fixing the Spears clan:
- Ending the Arab/Israel conflict
- solving cold fusion
- Getting the Devil Rays to the World Series.

Why is Spears (Loahn, Richie et al) a "celebritiy" rather than a has-been? What work of hers (theirs) do we celebrate? At least Amy Winehouse can sing...

Steve Salerno said...

Didn't Hillary Clinton solve cold fusion? (All right, it's a bit obscure, but...)

Also, though it's taking the thread in a different direction, your mention of singers and celebrity again makes me mindful of today's vocal stylists, as it were, and how little talent (i.e. a good voice, the ability to stay on key, etc.) seems to enter into the equation. My current pet peeve is Taylor Swift; if she weren't the very embodiment of the word "cute," I can't even imagine her making it past the preliminary cut on a show like American Idol. She's just dreadful. There's no other way to say it. She has nothing to offer, musically. Yet she's a "phenom."

RevRon's Rants said...

Seems the "doctor" has had a change of heart, and won't be having the BS show, after all. Said her situation was "too intense" for him. Sudden lapse in his typically bad judgment, or a failure to work out the financial arrangements? One wonders...

Mary Anne said...

My mental state cannot handle another Anna Nicole Smith wall to wall media coverage. The crying judge was the last straw for me. I was waiting for Rod Sterling to come out and tell me I was in "The Twilight Zone." It seems everyone forgot Anna Nicole Smith was a D-list celebrity. Marilyn Monroe was at least an actress.

Wouldn't it be an interesting to see Nancy Grace and Dr. Phil do a show on Brit Brit?

Steve Salerno said...

Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing Dr. Phil do a show on Nancy Grace.

Mary Anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Anne said...

You know Nancy Grace could teach Dr. Phil a thing or two about LOVE SMART. She got married and pregnant in a month last April without even dating the guy from reports. That's no small feat for her tender age of 48. I may not be a fan of hers, but she is an inspiration to older women looking to settle down and reproduce. I hope SHE writes a book on she did that so quickly.

Mary Anne said...

If Dr. Phil thinks Lynne Spears is a good mother, I would hate see what he thinks a bad mother looks like.

Cal said...

I guess everyone knows by now that Dr. Phil is canceling his planned show on Bratney after the public outcry of potential exploitation. I believe him when he says that the family contacted him to see her, but I'm sure he knew his already great ratings would zoom even higher.

Cal said...

Speaking of Hillary Clinton, how come her "emotional" moment today is considered humanizing but when Howard Dean went on his rant in '04 where he named the states he was going to go and ended it with a "yeah!" it was considered a meltdown?

I don't get what's OK for one person to show emotion and for the other it's considered weak or non-Presidential.

Steve Salerno said...

You got me there, Cal. Who was it before that--Walter Mondale?--who had an emotional (i.e. tearful) moment in the middle of a speech, and totally blew his front-of-the-pack position in a presidential campaign?

RevRon's Rants said...

Hillary looked like something had deeply touched her, whereas Dean looked like the Xanex had worn off too early. Hillary's may well have been an intentional affectation to make her look "softer" to folks who see her as cold and calculating (which she obviously is, or she wouldn't have gotten this far in the march to the White House). But despite all the Alan Alda protestations of the '80s to the contrary, nobody really wants to see a man cry.

Mary Anne said...

On a side note about Hillary, I thought Chris Wallace made an insightful comment about Hillary in regards to her move for change. He basically stated that how she say she is for change with the 1990's all around her? She had all of her husband's friends behind her at the podium in Iowa and it sure didn't look like change to the naked eye. It looked like a flashback of 1992.

RevRon's Rants said...

Does Wallace think General Motors attempts to reinvent the wheel every time they seek to create a new vehicle design? Change can never be wholly independent of the past, and an intelligent agent of change will always keep the avail themselves of the best of the past in their march to the future.

Of course, had Hillary not had any familiar faces around, much would have been made of her obvious attempt to distance herself from her husband's presidency. If someone wants to shoot at a candidate, they'll find a reason to do so, no matter what the candidate does.