Newsmakers: This Week: Britney Spears in Us, and a Q & A with Steve Earle

Newsweek, September 2, 2002 | Go to article overview

Newsmakers: This Week: Britney Spears in Us, and a Q & A with Steve Earle


Fighting the Battle of Britney

It's been some kind of week in the world of Britney Spears, that pink and sparkly planet that hovers above the media horizon 24/7. The cover of Us Weekly reads BRITNEY & JUSTIN: DID SHE BETRAY HIM? and the story inside portrays a heartaching party girl in dire if vague collapse. The cover of People reads BRITNEY SPEARS: MY TURN TO TALK; inside, she denies she's having a meltdown, and talks frankly about Justin. Both magazines tell who Justin is, but we've forgotten again, nor can we remember whether she betrayed him or just what the story was. One thing, though, was very clear: People beat out Us for the interview.

"We broke the Britney and Justin breakup story in March," says Us editor Bonnie Fuller, "and since then we've had a history of not having phone calls or e-mails returned by Britney Spears's publicist." That would be Lisa Kasteler, who explains it differently. "I just chose People because there are people there that we've had a good experience with," Kasteler says. "They seemed to want to do a story that was balanced. The Us magazine story is all conjecture and sources. It reads like a tabloid." The horror! Martha Nelson, the editor of People, says the magazine "worked really hard to get this interview," and thinks it got a great story. "And that's what it's all about," she says. "It's about doing the best journalism you can do no matter what you're covering." She didn't mean that the way it sounds.

It was a pip of a story--due partly to Britney's mom, who revealed that her child was "doing beautifully." The divette herself said a psychic told her she had "a problem with intimacy." And she revised her much-publicized stand in favor of virginity. "Who cares if I have sex?" she asked, apparently rhetorically. We felt as if she were speaking for us, too.

--Vanessa Juarez and David Gates

STEVE EARLE

Come hell or high water, singer, songwriter, actor, author and activist Steve Earle has never let what people think get in the way of a good time--or a strong conviction. A Texas-size controversy is already brewing over the song "John Walker's Blues" from his upcoming CD, "Jerusalem," due Sept. …

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