Kate's Notes

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Britney Spears

Britney Spears

Britney Jean Spears (born December 2, 1981) was originally famous for her Lolita-esque image of virginal purity contradicted with her lascivious videos which were intrinsically tied to sex appeal. From her first hit song, “Baby One More Time,” where she pranced around the halls of a high school in a midriff baring shirt, and a short Catholic school girl skirt, she has been the apple of the media’s eye. However, as of late, her image is tied more to her failed marriage with Kevin Federline, her Cheetos, Red Bull, and Starbucks diet, her white trash tendencies, her bad fashion sense, and most recently her extremely erratic behavior exhibited by not only going out and partying every night with Paris Hilton, and being linked to the derogatory term “celebutard,” but also selling her home, getting tattoos, and most notably, shaving her head.

However, she still is a Grammy Award-winning American pop singer, dancer, actress, author and songwriter. She was best known for her studio albums, music videos, and songs such as "...Baby One More Time", "Oops!...I Did It Again", "I'm a Slave 4 U" and "Toxic." Spears has sold over seventy-six million records worldwide according to TIME magazine. Having sold over 31 million albums in the U.S., Spears ranks as the eighth best-selling female artist in American music history.

Early Life and Career

Spears was born to James Parnell Spears, a building contractor, and Lynne Irene Bridges, a former grade school teacher in McComb, Mississippi, and raised Southern Baptist in Kentwood, Louisiana. Spears' brother, Bryan, is one of her managers, and her sister, Jamie-Lynn, is a young actress and singer.

Her maternal grandmother, Lillian Woolmoore, was an English war-bride, who met Spears's maternal grandfather, Barnett O'Field Bridges, in England during World War II, and subsequently moved with him to the US. Her paternal grandparents were June Austin Spears and Emma Jean Forbes.

Spears attended gymnastics classes until age nine and was an accomplished gymnast, competing in state-level competitions. She performed in local dance revues and her local Baptist church choirs, and was auditioning for the Disney Channel's “The New Mickey Mouse Club” by the time she was eight.

Although she was considered too young to join the series at the time, a producer on the show introduced her to a New York agent. Spears subsequently spent three summers at NYC's Professional Performing Arts School and also appeared in a number of off-Broadway productions, including 1991's Ruthless!

In 1992, she landed a spot on “Star Search,” and though she won the first round, she lost in the second. Spears then returned to the Disney Channel for a spot on “The New Mickey Mouse Club” and was accepted. She was featured in the 1993 to 1994 seasons from the ages of 11 to 13. Other performers on the show included Justin Timberlake, and Joshua Chasez whom later became members of the pop group 'N Sync, Keri Russell, fellow pop singer Christina Aguilera, and actor Ryan Gosling.

After the show ended, Spears went back home to Kentwood, Louisiana and entered high school at 14 where she would have her last bit of normalcy. Spears briefly joined the all-female teeny-bopper pop group Innosense. She later decided to go solo and a few years later, Spears recorded a demo tape, which landed in the hands of Jive Records. She was signed to their label and began touring American venues for a series of concerts sponsored by American teen magazines, before joining *NSYNC and becoming their opening act.

1998–2000: Early Success and Career

Towards the end of 1998, Spears' debut single "...Baby One More Time" began to appear on MTV. Accompanied by a music video that featured the pop princess in a Roman Catholic schoolgirl outfit, the song became an international success, earning double platinum sales and going to number one in the UK, as well as going number one in a large number of countries throughout the world. Her first solo single achieved 9 million sales worldwide. Released in early 1999, her debut album ...Baby One More Time topped the charts in several countries, including USA (where it is certified 14x Platinum).

Spears was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in April 1999: the then 17-year-old Spears was featured in a sexually suggestive Lolita-themed photoshoot, which triggered speculation that the singer had breast implants.

That summer, she kicked off her first headlining tour, the ...Baby One More Time Tour. By late 1999, Spears had become one of the year's biggest stars. In December, she took home four Billboard Music Awards including one for Female Artist of the Year, and the next month won for Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist at the American Music Awards. At the 2000 Grammy Awards Spears received two nominations, including one for Best New Artist which she lost out to Christina Aguilera. The other was for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “...Baby One More Time” but she lost that to Sarah McLachlan.

Following the short-lived Crazy 2K Tour, the lead single from Spears' second album, Oops!... I Did It Again, was released. The song broke a record for most radio station adds in a single day and quickly became a U.S. top ten hit and number one single in other countries. Released in May 2000, the album Oops!... I Did It Again debuted at number one in the U.S., where it sold 1,319,193 units during its first week (breaking the record for biggest first-week sales of an album by a solo artist, male or female). Concerning both musical content and sales, the album was very similar to Spears' debut, although it fared better with critics. Oops...I Did It Again also had input from country queen Shania Twain, who penned the track “Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know” with husband Mutt Lange. Twain contributed her adult-40 brand of country-crossover infusion to the record.

Spears kicked off her first world tour, the Oops!... I Did It Again World Tour, in the summer of 2000, and co-wrote the book Britney Spears' Heart-to-Heart with her mother, Lynne which was a bestseller. During a performance at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, she ripped off a black suit to reveal a provocative nude-colored and crystal-adorned outfit that generated controversy due to her young age. In late 2000, she won two Billboard Music Awards, and in early 2001, she was nominated for two American Music Awards. At the Grammys, her two nominations were for Oops!... I Did It Again in the categories of Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance but again she did not win.

2001–2004: Career Overdrive

In early 2001, Spears struck a multi-million promotional deal with Pepsi which included numeral television commercials, point-of-purchase promotions and Internet ties between Spears' and Pepsi.

In November, she released her third album Britney. It debuted at number one on both the U.S. and Canadian charts, selling 745,744 units during its first week in the U.S. The success of this album made Spears the only female artist in SoundScan history to have her first three albums debut at number one. Britney was the first album on which Spears assumed some creative control co-writing five of the album's tracks. To help promote the album, Spears embarked on the Dream Within a Dream Tour during the same year. Spears was nominated for two Grammy Awards, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Overprotected and Best Pop Vocal Album for Britney, which she lost both to Norah Jones.

In February 2002, Spears starred in a film, Crossroads, which reached number two on the box-office charts in its first weekend, but quickly left theaters. The film ended up making a bit over $60 million worldwide, more than four times its budget of $12USD million. Songs from the album Britney appeared in the film. The movie, along with Spears' performance in it, was poorly received by critics and she netted herself a Razzie Award for Worst Actress. The film won the Razzie for the Worst Original Song "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman."

For the film Chicago, producer Harvey Weinstein wanted Spears for the role that eventually went to Lucy Liu. She was considered for the part of Allie Hamilton in The Notebook, but was beat out by Rachel McAdams. She auditioned for the role in I ♥ Huckabees that went to Naomi Watts. Spears initially expressed interest in the role of Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard but lost interest in playing the character following her marriage and plans for a family. The role went to fellow pop singer and reality television star Jessica Simpson.

In March of 2002, Spears' four-year relationship with Justin Timberlake ended. The break-up was publicized, with rumors circulating that Spears had been unfaithful due to Timberlake's impression that she had cheated on him through his song "Cry Me a River", and its subsequent music video. In response to this, Spears later said, "I'm not technically saying he's wrong, but I'm not technically saying he's right, either." Afterward, despite Spears' claims that she had remained a virgin, and wished to remain one until marriage, Timberlake insisted they had sex during their relationship. Spears later acknowledged this to be true, saying, "It was two years into my relationship with Justin, and I thought he was the one. But I was wrong!”

In addition, she has appeared on Saturday Night Live twice as host and musical guest: once on May 13, 2000, then again on February 2, 2002. On October 18, 2003, she appeared as musical guest with Halle Berry as host. At 18, she was the youngest person in SNL History to host and be the musical guest at the same time. Spears is also the only female to host and perform in the same episode more than once. She was set to host a third time in December 18, 2004 but cancelled due to a knee injury.

In June 2002, Spears branched out as a restaurateur with the opening of a New York City eatery, NYLA, which was named for its mix of New York and Louisiana cuisine. It was not a success and closed the following year but Spears apparently had very little to do with management. This same year Forbes named her the most powerful celebrity in the world.

Spears returned to the spotlight in August 2003 when she performed at the MTV Video Music Awards with Madonna, pop singer Christina Aguilera and rapper Missy Elliott. S pears and Aguilera performed Madonna's song "Like a Virgin", and each locked lips with Madonna. Spears' kiss with Madonna attracted publicity that lasted several months, while Aguilera's kiss with Madonna attracted less publicity.

After their lip-locking, Britney and Madonna went on to do a video together, and Britney took up the practice of Kabbalah, which is Madonna’s religion. However, after sometime Britney became despondent with the religion and Madonna and she cut ties.

In August 2003, Spears caused more controversy with a photoshoot by photographer Michael Thompson which appeared in W. The photos displayed Spears in a dominatrix-inspired shoot, complete with sexually suggestive poses. In the interview by Rob Haskell which accompanied the photos, Spears admitted to having lost her virginity to ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake two years into their relationship. She also revealed that she enjoys tobacco smoking, and that she kissed Colin Farrell but had no serious relationship with him.

In the Zone is generally considered Spears' most overtly sexual album to date was released in November 2003. Jettisoning the Max Martin-produced synthpop of her earlier releases, the album took in lesser-known producers such as RedZone and big names including Moby and R. Kelly. Spears co-wrote eight of the album's thirteen songs and co-produced some of her material for the first time. In the Zone went to the top of the U.S. charts in its debut week, selling over 609,000 copies. This made Spears the only female in music history to have her first four studio albums debut at number one. The album spawned the international number one and U.S. number nine hit single, "Toxic", which won Spears her first Grammy in the category of Best Dance Recording. The following thirty-seven stops on the tour were canceled, leaving Spears without the $750,000 to $1,000,000 her concerts would have brought in a night.

The 2004 Onyx Hotel Tour brought new criticism. While Spears and her on-stage dancers performed her songs "Touch of My Hand" and "Breathe on Me", they were seemingly nude and performing routines simulating gay sex, orgies and masturbation. As there were underage fans in the audience, there was some outrage at the alleged lack of decency of the performances, as well as reports of adult chaperones angrily storming out with the children they brought to the concert. Spears responded to parents' concerns by stating she is "not their babysitter. It's the parents' responsibility. If you don't like it, then just change the channel. The only person I want to be a role model to is my sister, Jamie Lynn."

2005 – 2006: Family, Kids, Scorn, and Media Spotlight

On January 3, 2004, Spears married her childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander at The Little White Wedding Chapel on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada. Spears wore jeans and a baseball cap and the bellhop walked her down the aisle. An annulment was promptly arranged (at the behest of manager Larry Rudolph and her family) and was granted on January 5, ending their fifty-five hour marriage. The annulment request stated that Spears "lacked understanding of her actions to the extent that she was incapable of agreeing to marriage because before entering into the marriage the Plaintiff and Defendant did not know each other's likes and dislikes, each others' desires to have or not have children, and each other's desires as to State of residency."

Spears later said, "Honestly, I really wanted to see what it was like to be married."

In July 2004, Spears announced her engagement to dancer Kevin Federline, three months after they met at a club in Hollywood. Federline had very recently been in a relationship with actress Shar Jackson, who was still pregnant with their second child. On the night of September 18, 2004, Spears married Federline before twenty-seven guests in a surprise, non-denominational ceremony at a residence in Studio City, California. The exact sequence of events surrounding the marriage took a further turn for the unusual when it was later revealed by the website The Smoking Gun that the wedding ceremony that occurred on September 18 was a "faux" ceremony, and that the real date of the start of their wedding was October 6, 2004.

During the later half of 2004, Spears announced she would be taking another career break in order to start a family. Immediately after her marriage to Federline, she had told People, "I want to be a young mom. Next year, at 23, I'm so there."

Although she put her career on hold, the industry of “Britney Spears” continued to run without her involvement. In 2004, Spears endorsed a fragrance, "Curious," for which she earned a reported US$12 million. After one year of sales, the product netted more than US$100 million. Curious was named the best selling perfume of 2004.

Following the success of "Curious", Spears released her next Elizabeth Arden fragrance, "Fantasy", in September 2005 which was another big hit at department stores. Spears' first hits collection, Greatest Hits: My Prerogative, was released in late 2004. The album debuted at number four on the U.S. charts with over 255,000 copies sold. In addition to her biggest hits, it featured three new songs, including "My Prerogative" (originally a Bobby Brown song) and "Do Somethin'."

During the spring of 2005, Spears' reality show with husband Kevin Federline, “Britney & Kevin: Chaotic,” premiered on MTV in the U.S. The five-episode series credited Spears and Federline as executive producers. Chaotic was panned by most critics and fewer-than-expected people watched the shows five episodes. The series was later released on DVD in September 2005. The DVD included a bonus music disc which featured her newest song and music video at that point in her career, "Someday (I Will Understand)".

Spears announced her pregnancy via her official website in April 2005. Despite her eagerness to have a baby, she admitted to ELLE magazine that, "I have a feeling I'm going to have an operation. I don't know why. But I hope so. I don't want to go through the pain." On September 14, 2005, 6 lb. 11oz. baby boy Sean Preston Federline was born in the Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, California, by a scheduled caesarean section. Two days later, Spears and her son were released from the hospital and back at home in their 9,000-sq.-ft. Malibu, California mansion.

The birth of Spears' son was the inspiration behind a statue by Daniel Edwards, "Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston," which was unveiled in March 2006. The statue features an idealized Spears giving birth in a provocative pose while hunched on all fours and clutching a bearskin rug. Controversy was further stoked by it being partly supported by the Manhattan Right to Life Committee. The statue has in no way been recognized by Spears and is therefore unofficial. It has also sparked controversy as Spears gave birth by caesarean section, unlike the natural birth depicted in the statue.

Since the birth of her first child, Spears' career had remained relatively low-profile. In November 2005, Jive released a remix album entitled B in the Mix: The Remixes. It lacked promotion of any kind in the U.S. and debuted outside the top one hundred, with about 16,000 copies sold in its first week of release and peaked at number 134 on the Billboard 200. The remix album spawned the single, "And Then We Kiss."

She has made a few television appearances. On March 30, 2006, Spears was a guest-star on an episode of NBC's television show "Will & Grace," starring Eric McCormack, Debra Messing and Megan Mullally, titled "Buy, Buy Baby." Britney played "Amber-Louis", a closeted Democrat lesbian posing as a conservative Christian and right-wing Republican who is to cohost with Jack McFarland, played by Sean Hayes, on his talk show "JackTalk" after a large corporation takes over "OutTv", the show's network. This marked her debut on a scripted primetime television show playing someone other than herself. NBC received criticism from conservative Christian groups for the episode.

Her fitness as a mother has been called into question several times since her first son’s birth.

Photos published on February 7, 2006, showed Spears driving her SUV in Los Angeles with her infant son, Sean, perched on her lap rather than strapped into a car seat in the back. The photos show Spears holding the wheel of the car with one hand, and her 4-month-old baby with the other. In a statement to People, Spears said she did it because of a "horrifying, frightful encounter with the paparazzi" and that "I was terrified that this time the physically aggressive paparazzi would put both me and my baby in danger. I love my child and would do anything to protect him." No charges were pressed.

On April 1, 2006, Spears' 7-month-old son fell and bruised his head after slipping from his nanny's arms as she was lifting him from his high chair and "something snapped in the chair." After an initial examination, he was thought to be fine but six days later Spears and her husband took him to the Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center for a second checkup. He got the all clear once again. Following this visit, child welfare officials, as well as a sheriff's deputy, visited the Spears home. "While there was an automatic report by the hospital to the Department of Children and Family Services, DCFS immediately responded and determined there was no problem and no reason to open a formal investigation," Spears's attorney Marty Singer told People. "They determined that the parents were not involved in any injury and that nothing improper was done within the home."

On May 18, 2006, Spears was photographed leaving the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Manhattan with her 8-month-old son. As Spears walked through the people and paparazzi-crowded street, towards her car, she stumbled. Spears managed to regain her balance and prevent the fall with the aid of her bodyguard, who was close by. After retreating to the F.A.O. Schwarz Café, Spears started crying.

Spears appeared on Dateline NBC in June 2006 to discuss tabloid rumors about an impending divorce from her husband, future career plans, her emotional state and the questions regarding her fitness as a mother. In response to the controversy over her driving with her infant son unrestrained in her lap, Spears told "The Today Show's" Matt Lauer that, "I did it with my dad. I'd sit on his lap and I drive. We're country." She also addressed the concerns over her parenting skills, saying, "I know I'm a good mom."

It was confirmed in the interview that she will not release a studio album for at least another year, saying that she would like to wait until her children get older. She also confirmed a new baby clothes line, entitled "Baby's All Rock 'n' Roll."

Following Dateline NBC, Spears posed nude for the August 2006 cover of Harper's Bazaar. In the interview with the magazine, Spears stated that she is not ready to retire from performing, saying, "I can't wait to do that again." Spears also plans to get back in shape after the birth of her second child, saying, "After this baby, I'm going to get really intense with it." In the August 28, 2006 issue of People, Spears confirmed that her next studio album is due in 2007 and described it as "cooler than ever—fun, upbeat, and sexy."

In the article Spears had also commented that her impending childbirth, a second scheduled caesarean section, "[would] be a piece of cake."Spears on the August 2006 cover of Harper's Bazaar.On June 28, 2006, after her televised Dateline interview a pregnant Spears posed nude for the August 2006 cover of Harper's Bazaar, in a photo similar to Demi Moore's September 1991 cover of Vanity Fair. In one photo, Spears is shown wearing only a g-string and open fur coat, and in another she is completely nude with her hands covering her breasts. Her son, Sean, is also featured in the photospread. In August 2006, a video of Spears began circulating the Internet.

In addition to all of the questions regarding her motherhood skills, allegations of druguse began to surface. In the three-minute video, previously released as a bonus on the Britney and Kevin: Chaotic DVD, Spears seems very disoriented and confused and claims that she is "missing out on life" and that she is generally behind everyone else. Federline tells her it is because of all the partying, to which she strongly disagrees. Spears then began to try and legitimately convince him that the concept of time travel as portrayed in the Back to the Future series is real. This lead many to speculate that Britney was high on what many claimed was the street drug ecstasy.

On August 20, 2006, Spears introduced her husband, Kevin Federline, at the Teen Choice Awards. T his was her first appearance at an awards show in almost two years. Spears and Federline also appeared via satellite at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards to present the award for Best R&B Video. They performed a quick skit, though, in subsequent replays of the VMA's on MTV, the skit is completely edited out and goes right from Jack Black introducing Spears and Federline to them announcing the nominees.

On September 12, 2006, Spears gave birth to their second son, Jayden James Federline. He was born at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, again by a scheduled caesarean section.Spears stunned talk-show host David Letterman on November 6, 2006 when she made her first post-pregnancy public appearance since giving birth to second son Jayden James Federline. She sported a chic blonde bob and wore a short black dress that showed off her newly svelte shape since she welcomed Jayden James.

The next day Spears filed for divorce from her husband Kevin citing irreconcilable differences and asking for both physical and legal custody of their two children, with visitation rights for Federline. Laura Wasser has been hired to represent Spears in the case. According to a rep for Federline's lawyer, the divorce filing "caught Kevin totally by surprise."

In November, shortly after her breakup with Federline, Spears was seen on the dance-club circuit with Paris Hilton, and was photographed with no panties by several paparazzi. Divorce lawyer Dylan Mitchell said the appearances could hurt her child custody case if Federline chooses to argue that Spears is "never home and other people are parenting the children." Spears wrote on her official Web site in December that it had been "so long" since she last joined friends and went "out on the town", and admitted that she "probably" took her newfound freedom "a little too far. Anyway, thank God for Victoria's Secrets' [sic] new underwear line!"

2007-Present: Personal Struggles

On January 26, 2007, Spears lost her aunt, Sandra Bridges Covington, to ovarian cancer.

In early 2007, Spears was rumored to be dating Issac Cohen who is an actor, a model, a bad boy, his profile says Jewish, straight, single, and he reminded everyone of her ex-husband Kevin Federline. Later he ended up selling the story of his relationship to The National Enquirer.

In early February 2007, all the tabloids were on Britney-watch, waiting for her eventual breakdown, which happened on February 16, 2007: after weeks of publicity surrounding late-night partying and alcohol use, Spears entered an offshore drug rehab facility, but stayed for less than twenty-four hours. The next night Britney was seen outside a closed hair salon in Sherman Oaks where she shaved her own head with clippers. The hair has been put on sale by the owner of the hair salon, along with a half-drunk can of Red Bull, a Bic lighter and the clippers that were used to shave her head. After leaving the salon, Spears visited a tattoo parlor and got multiple tattoos. Photos of a bald Britney quickly circulated the Internet. Trying to explain the incident, Spears said "I don't want anyone touching me. I'm tired of everybody touching me."

On February 20, 2007, Britney re-admitted herself to a California treatment facility. A statement by her manager read "We ask that the media respect her privacy as well as those of her family and friends at this time."

Charity Work

Spears has the Britney Spears Foundation, which does everything from creating a fun-filled playroom for kids on extended hospital stays to hosting The Britney Spears Camp for the Performing Arts, the Foundation’s work is focused on the power entertainment has to heal and fulfill.

In adiditon, she contributes to the Luke Neuhedel Foundation, which is set on improving the quality of life for children with cancer through education, research, and aid to families in need.


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