Can Bieber’s Lohanian Tendencies Be Stopped: Protecting a Publicity Asset

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The public seems to revel at the first hint of a wholesome star-type beginning to go supernova. It means column inches for the journos, renewed copyright opportunities for the paps, repetitive strain injury for the bloggers, declarations of undying love from diehard fans and blunt tweets from Seth Rogen.

The story is trite and hackneyed but like Hollywood, the tried and tested formulas not only sell but are still entertaining. The Star must:

a)    Be found  in unlikely circumstances and preferably be from humble origins;
b)    Have a compelling human interest story (raised by a single parent will do);
c)     Be moderately talented and endorsed by a current celebrity;
d)    Dominate the world with wholesome messages, formulaic lyrics and Jackson-esque  moves;
e)    Become so bored with success that the inner compulsion to destroy it takes over;
f)   Leave a monkey in Germany, fail to turn up for gigs, ink himself with bad tattoos, be banned from hotels, officially retire, fling eggs at his neighbor’s house, have drugs found at his home, become inspired by Paul Walker’s death and conduct drag races; get arrested, be charged with driving while under the influence (a “triple play”  – illegal drugs, prescription drugs and alcohol) and be defended on microblogs by Lady Gaga.
 

It is rare that a manager finds a youngster that can have the presence of mind of a Taylor Swift and who understands that a right of publicity, if treated like an asset from the beginning, needs to follow a strategized business plan, which includes not self-destructing. Often a celebrity rues missed chances and fails to monetize the name to its maximum potential and some are left with still lucrative careers but ones which have not harnessed what they might have done. They rely on a chance of a second crack allowed by America’s blind willingness to forgive nearly everything a celebrity has done, sometimes even heinous crimes.

Britney Spears is the prime example, with decent songs when young, imploded a couple of times, partially resurrected by Will.i.am and X-factor and now onto a Vegas gig. She has turned it around to a degree by not biting every hand that feeds a la  Lindsay Lohan.

A great deal of it comes down to the advisors of the talent and whether they are a bunch of “yes men” or simply seeking to cream something off the top. Sadly, some of the matters we see at GS2Law emanate from previous professional advisors not seeing the long term plan and advising the signing of contracts that benefit the managers, advisers and hangers on more than the talent. Sometimes prior counsel have been so scared of losing the client that they fall into the category of those that simply stroke the ego of the celebrity and thereby fail in their duty to give proper advice.

Rogen while correct, is being fundamentally unfair as he just can’t conceptualize the nadir from where Bieber has come and why should he? Rogen was coddled in the warmth of a Vancouver Jewish community, a great youth group program in Habonim Dror, supportive parents, normal friends and probably has married a wonderful woman. Very similar to my Manchester upbringing, Sacha Baron Cohen’s London experience and shares commonality with the likes of Andy Samberg, Jonah Hill and Jason Segal. These guys are intelligent, driven and stable, their breaks were largely self-engineered and most likely laugh at themselves or have friends that do it for them.

 In the Bieber case, there is a genuine element of tragedy as it is obvious he is out of control, and there is nobody to whom he would be willing to listen. (Often that role is filled by a counsellor/lawyer in the absence of a parent). A young man who drag races sports cars while drunk in a residential area is not only a danger to himself but to others and those who have loved ones killed by drunk drivers will justifiably want to see a proper penalty handed down.

From a career perspective, if the immigration authorities take an interest, Bieber could face deportation from the US and refused re-entry, which could which could either martyr him or propel him to obscurity. Either way, he needs to have a strong legal team around him that can knock some sense into him and will actually help to protect what is still left of his name before Bieber destroys it all together.

 Robert Garson

rg@gs2law.com