Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Monday, February 19, 2007


Damn it.

I hate being right in these situations.

More than 10 years ago, I predicted the personal meltdown of Britney Spears, based on how she was being handled, her press, her public persona (overly sexualized) and her performances.

I'm very sorry to say (and please believe whatever you wish - I'm not dissing her!) that I believe that while she is a hard-working performer whose fan base was second to none, the degree of her talent is limited, that her ability to make a life long career in the business of show is hampered because of it.

So she was used as a money machine while she was "hot" by people who made millions from her performances, CD's, DVD's, image, and products using her image.

More importantly, her real identity was stripped from her-if you saw any interviews or features with her you saw someone who was incredibly nice and kind to her fans and performed her heart out for them. Who was she really?

No doubt she was also surrounded with yes people who stood to make even more money off her work if they just kept her "happy."

Kids who work all the time, who don't understand their value as individuals, as a person - but instead see who they are through their looks and ability to work (read: make money) find themselves as adults without knowing who they really are and without the foundation that makes the rest of their lives function well, properly and happily.

I've always maintained that kids have no place in show business because of the way they're too often treated. But to deny a gifted child the opportunity to perform would be an outright sin, so I've always supported them. However, working with the parents can be a real trick.

Fortunately, the parents of kids I've coached, for the most part, were in charge of their kids, protected them and simply supported their desire to act and perform. I actually coached the parents so they would know *how* to protect and support them in the industry.

Freddie (now Fred) Savage's parents are terrific role models for good parenting of a working kid.

I don't work with kids whose parents are stage parents - parents who actually have their kid perform so they can live through their work and celebrity vicariously, to make up for something they feel they were denied or lack, or in some cases to actully want their kid to support them financially.

You've read about a lot of them in the tabloids.

I will *never* forget assessing a seven (7!) year young girl for coaching. Her mother sat on my couch, smiling proudly at her offspring as I interviewed her. I asked, "Tell me something about yourself you really like."

Her response: "I'm pretty and I get lots of work!"

WHAT?! I couldn't help but wonder how many other working show biz kids would have said the same.

I probed, "I mean, are you kind, are you a good friend, do you love animals?"

She went on to tell me about her "best friends." The Beanie Babies sitting on her bed.


No, wrong.

Coaching this kid would just a) break my heart and b) create all sorts of turmoil with her mother because I would help her daughter find her true identity and independence and personal values, and she's too young to slip into that conflicting territory with anyone. After all, the parent is the parent and wanting her kid to forsake her true identity and personal values is not a criminal act or seen as child abuse under the law.

As it was, my heart broke for the kid because I could see her massive dysfunction blooming as a young adult coming down the track, heading for a collision with life that would be very difficult for her unless she got proper guidance.

I also see these collisions happening for little girls who emulate "stars" whose basic values are their appearance and being a celebrity (defined as someone who gets publicity without really being anybody or doing anything to serve humanity - a very hollow existence: i.e. Anna Nichole Smith, Paris Hilton).

Britney has made the transition from being a bona fide star to becoming a celebrity.

I've worked with a *lot* of beautiful women over the years and too often something is missing - it's an understanding of who they really are or can be unrelated to their appearance. And in some cases it's a strength of character caused by relying on their looks as their identity, especially as teen agers and young adults. It's not all their fault - they're frequently surrounded by people and parents who feed that narcissism.

But when life smacks them upside the head and they need the skills they should have obtained as kids - when they were so into clothes, make-up and celebrities? They are often at a loss about how to handle problems in a healthy way, and they suffer tremendously trying to find their way - especially when they surround themselves with people who don't help them find their true personal identity.

Only recently someone I worked with couldn't stand the thought of someone pushing her to deal with her problems of feeling so empty and directionless - so she could find ways to feel good about herself and find happiness. She stuck with what was familiar rather than face the unknown - which would have most probably resulted in a fulfilling life.

This also happens to boys and men who are incredibly handsome/beautiful.

I find it interesting that so many people think that good-looking people have no "real" problems.

Meanwhile, the media are culpable to the extent that they exploit these kids for money just as much as their handlers; but they wouldn't make any money if people didn't pay a lot of money for the trash they sell.

So in the end, as all things, it gets down to our own personal values and, too often parents who by ignorance, neglect or greed, have made the largest contribution to the psyche of their troubled adult kids.

At this point, I see Britney as a victim of those who handled her when she was a kid when she didn't know any better - and then pretty much kept her in the dark so they could continue business as usual.

But now Britney's an adult - a mother of two kids herself - and needs to decide whether she wants to grow up and be genuinely happy as well as be a terrific parent and role model for her own children.

I see her shaving her own hair off as an attempt to shed all the misery of her current life, only it won't go away, especially using drugs and alcohol.

To be clear - show biz/working kids who love what they do; who are parented and socialized to be happy, healthy individuals, surrounded with people who care more for them then their monetary value have a *great* chance of having downright wonderful and happy lives as adults.

Those who don't? Are easy prey for vultures who can spot their vulnerability, their sense of feeling lost and hollow a mile away. They move in quickly to take advantage of them - posing as "friends" - they are really just sychophants who can say they hang with (fill in person's name). Usually drug dealers are among the first to "make friends" with such lost people.

I have all the sympathy and empathy in the world for the kid Britney was. I *hope* someone is trying to help out of her misery instead of just taking the paycheck she's paying them to "take care of her."

By the way, the only reason you hear about Britney's problems is because of her celebrity -there are thousands of similar stories of lesser-known others that never make the tabs. E! TV is featuring stories about some of them on its program, "Blvd of Broken Dreams."

Parents of kids who want to be in show business: Paul Peterson (former child star of the Donna Reed Show) has done some fantastic work with the Screen Actor's Guild on behalf of young performers - you can read about how to protect and nurture young performers on his and the SAG websites.

Believe me, Britney's "value" as a late night TV show joke is limited. She's getting into some severely disturbed, heartbreaking territory - for herself and her children. If you are a true fan, if you really care about her? Write her, tell her to get help so she can get happy.

You can write her respectfully (seriously, don't be a jerk) through her representatives at: International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California 90211-1934 - USA

Britney - I hope you use your fame to help other girls and women avoid your agony by getting treatment, telling the truth of your experience and becoming one of the healthiest, happiest women and moms show business has *ever* known. God bless.


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