Pop Culture

Britney Spears: Who can save her image?

“Britney Spears has lost her kids, her fans, her underwear and her mind,” said the cover line splashed across the March issue of Blender magazine. It’s easy to expect just another walk down train-wreck lane from such a statement, but an early peek at the accompanying feature story proves otherwise.

Reporter Michael Joseph Gross interviewed dozens of people with ties to Spears, and although the piece proves much of what we already know to be true (Spears got chewed up by the culture of being a celebrity, the pressure of being the breadwinner for her family contributed to her current problems, etc.), Gross has scored the quote that is perhaps the most telling of all in the long tragic yarn of Britney Spears: “You have to understand that there’s nobody in the equation who stood to benefit by giving it to her straight,” said Eric Foster White, who co-wrote six songs on her first album, “Baby One More Time.”

Indeed, most sources interviewed for this column over the past few months have offered up similar sentiments. One source, who worked with Spears at the same time that her “Chaotic” reality series debuted, said, “Britney, like most celebrities at her level of fame, doesn't listen to the truth. And the more you try to hammer them with (the truth) the likelier it is you won’t be working with that celebrity much longer.”

This comes to light at the same times as Spears’ publicity machine (however dubious it is these days) is casting the net wider than ever in an effort to paint Spears in a sympathetic light. Barbara Walters announced on “The View” on Jan. 28 that hanger-on/manager/publicist Sam Lutfi reached out to Walters over the weekend. “He got in touch with us,” Walters said during the broadcast. “(He said) Britney is suffering from mental issues that are treatable. She’s been to a psychiatrist … that’s very good news.”

It would really be good news is if Lutfi stopped being a mouthpiece for Spears and allowed her actions to speak for themselves. More to come on this topic, I’m sure.

Blender magazine goes on sale nationwide Feb. 12.

Blair Underwood chats about ‘In Treatment’
In a year where many actors aren’t getting much time on TV thanks to the writers’ strike, Blair Underwood has had exceptionally good fortune. He has a starring role in ABC’s runaway hit “Dirty Sexy Money,” he’s got a recurring role on “New Adventures of Old Christine” and, on Jan. 29, he makes his first appearance in HBO’s new series, “In Treatment.”

Underwood plays Alex, a cocky Navy fighter pilot who finds himself in therapy after he bombed an Iraqi school and killed 16 kids. And that isn’t his only issue (you’ll have to tune in to find out more). In addition to the series getting rave early reviews, there’s already Emmy buzz surrounding Underwood’s portrayal of the complex character.

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“It’s definitely exciting,” Underwood said about the awards talk and the positive reviews surrounding “In Treatment.” “This character is by far the most complicated and intricate character I’ve ever played.”

And just how did Underwood pull off playing a man who’s not just responsible for killing innocent kids, but has little or no guilt about it? “When Steven Spielberg was asked how he could film ‘The Color Purple’ without knowing what it was like to be black, he referenced ‘ET’ and said, ‘What do I know about alien planets?’ In a way it’s similar,” Underwood explained. “It really comes down to using your imagination.”

“In Treatment” airs Monday through Friday on HBO.

Brangelina pregnancy rumorsWhen Angelina Jolie walked the red carpet at the SAG Awards draped in a bed sheet’s worth of material, then only sipped water during the ceremony, pregnancy rumors hit an all time high. That is, until Brad Pitt’s rep Cindi Guagenti issued the following denial about Star magazine’s pregnancy story: “I’m not commenting on unsubstantiated rumors from a tabloid photo agency.”

That doesn’t sound like the same thing as saying, “She’s not pregnant.” Note, bump watchers: Jolie was nearly five months along when she finally went public that she was pregnant with Shiloh, so there could be a few more months of waiting until there’s any definitive announcement.

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