NEW YORK (AP) — Oprah Winfrey? Barbara Walters? Matt Lauer again? The stubble is barely rising on Britney Spears’ head and the speculation is swirling over where she will go for her tell-all interview. With Spears checking out of a rehab center Wednesday after only one day for the second time in a week, the […]
NEW YORK (AP) — Oprah Winfrey? Barbara Walters? Matt Lauer again? The stubble is barely rising on Britney Spears’ head and the speculation is swirling over where she will go for her tell-all interview.
With Spears checking out of a rehab center Wednesday after only one day for the second time in a week, the perspective – not to mention coherence – for a televised confessional may be some time away.
But the competition will be ferocious, and it’s already begun.
Consider that the family of a Florida teenager who’s been hiccuping continuously for a month told the St. Petersburg Times this week that they received 57 calls in one day from people at “Good Morning America” seeking an interview.
57 times!?! For a girl who needs someone to sneak up behind her and say “boo!”? Imagine what they’d do for a pop star with a propensity for pantyless partying who just shaved her head and got a couple of tattoos?
“We’ve made calls,” said Jim Bell, executive producer of the “Today” show, which has been seeking an interview since Spears and Kevin Federline split up.
“I think people are going to be interested in how she’s doing and will want to hear from her,” Bell said. “She hasn’t given many interviews in the first place. You’ve got a lot of factors converging here to make it a competitive situation.”
Here’s some early handicapping on who will land the big interview:
MATT LAUER, 3 to 1 odds. Yes, Spears’ interview with Lauer last June was a disaster: a rambling, makeup-smeared, gum-chewing foreshadowing of what was to come. But she likes Matt, reportedly calling to arrange that interview herself, and she didn’t bring a PR person to the taping. Rational thinking, admittedly at a premium now, would tell her Lauer wasn’t to blame for the interview becoming a joke. And Lauer’s a plainspoken pro: “He seems to be able to do these interviews without making you want to throw up,” veteran newswoman Connie Chung said.
BARBARA WALTERS, 5 to 2 odds. Not an obvious choice. Why would Spears want to talk to a frumpy, grandmotherly type whose career in the trenches is winding down? “Barbara is still the queen,” Chung said. “She could probably convince Anna Nicole Smith to rise from the dead to find out for sure where she would want to be buried.” Don’t underestimate her.
OPRAH WINFREY, 4 to 1 odds. A seat on Oprah’s couch, still springy from when Tom Cruise jumped on it, seems comfortable. So does the chance to associate with the most admired woman on TV. Less inviting is staring out at an audience of moms, all wondering what you were thinking in going out every night with two babies at home.
ANDERSON COOPER, 5 to 1 odds. His affiliation with “60 Minutes” is far more enticing than CNN. And don’t think the sober newsmagazine wouldn’t jump at the chance. Cooper asked uncomfortable personal questions of a pop star, Kenny Chesney, there just this week. “I think you’ve got to go with a man,” said publicist Elaine Schock, who guided another baldheaded musician – Sinead O’Connor – through PR minefields. “A man is going to be less judgmental than a woman.”
DAVID LETTERMAN/JAY LENO, 8 to 1 odds. The place to go if you want to deflect hard questions with a few laughs. Human straight line Hugh Grant enabled Leno to ask “what the hell were you thinking?” after the actor’s prostitution arrest. Letterman has become an adept, straightforward interviewer, where Russell Crowe, Marv Albert and – probably to his detriment – Michael Richards appeared to explain away bad behavior. Schock said either would be a bad choice: “These guys are comedians. There’s nothing funny about what’s going on with Britney Spears. This is completely tragic.”
DIANE SAWYER, 10 to 1 odds. Another veteran master at landing big interviews, most notably with Mel Gibson after his drunken, anti-Semitic rant. But Sawyer’s had her Serious Journalist hat on lately, and may go after this halfheartedly.
KATIE COURIC, 10 to 1 odds. She’s spent the last six months in an unnecessary effort to prove her gravitas among people appalled by celebrity culture. A date with Britney blows that all in one night.
A NOBODY, 50 to 1 odds. Spears could simply release an interview online, with someone off-camera lobbing questions. It would be on dozens of TV stations and Web sites within hours. “Britney has to earn the trust back of her fans and she can’t do it simply by doing an interview,” said Marilyn Laverty, a veteran music publicist. “She has to do it by good behavior and by producing something artistically that’s of interest to the fans.”
NANCY GRACE, 1,000 to 1 odds. What, you thought we were serious?