Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Britney Jean Spears (born December 2, 1981, McComb, Mississippi) is an American pop music singer, songwriter, and dancer. Spears has sold over seventy-six million records worldwide according to Time magazine. The RIAA ranks her as the eighth best-selling female artist in American music history, having sold thirty-one million albums in the U.S. Forbes ranked Spears as the world's most powerful celebrity in 2002.
Spears is 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," for which she won a Grammy Award. In January 1999, Britney released her first studio album ...Baby One More Time, followed closely by the 2000 studio album Oops!... I Did It Again. Her third album Britney was released in November 2001, followed by a fourth album In The Zone in November 2003. The collection Greatest Hits: My Prerogative was released in November 2004.
Spears' fame in the music industry has led her to experiment with other forms of media, including film and reality television. She is most noted for her starring role in the 2002 movie Crossroads. Spears has also made guest appearances in various other movies and television programs. Her success as a singer led her to several high-profile advertising deals and endorsements; such as deals with Pepsi in 2001, as well as fragrance endorsements with Elizabeth Arden.
Spears' personal life has been the center of the media's attention as a result of her stardom. She was in a romantic relationship with singer Justin Timberlake for four years, and was briefly married to a childhood friend, Jason Allen Alexander, in 2004. In the same year, Spears' marriage to back-up dancer Kevin Federline put her music career on halt. She had two children with Federline: Sean Preston and Jayden James. The couple's divorce in late 2006 was highly publicized with the custody battle of their two children. In early 2007, Spears admitted into rehabilitation following a series of controversial behavior in public.
Childhood and discovery
Britney in The New Mickey Mouse Club, 1993.
Britney Spears was born in McComb, Mississippi, and raised in Kentwood, Louisiana as a Southern Baptist. Her parents are James Parnell Spears, a building contractor, and Lynne Irene Bridges, a former grade school teacher. Spears' brother Bryan works as as a manager for the Spears family interests and her sister Jamie-Lynn is an actress and singer. Her maternal grandmother Lillian Woolmore was an English war-bride, who met Spears' maternal grandfather Barnett O'Field Bridges in England during World War II and subsequently migrated with him to the United States. Her paternal grandparents were June Austin Spears and Emma Jean Forbes.
Spears was an accomplished gymnast, attending gymnastics classes until age nine and competing in state-level competitions. She performed in local dance revues and her local Baptist church choirs, and was auditioning for the Disney Channel series 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 City 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 in Lakeland and was accepted.
Spears was featured in the 1993–94 seasons from the ages of eleven to thirteen. Other performers on the show included fellow pop singer Christina Aguilera, future members of the pop group *NSYNC Justin Timberlake and Joshua Chasez, Keri Russell, and actor Ryan Gosling. After the show ended, Spears went back home to Kentwood and entered high school at the age of 14.
Spears briefly joined the all-female pop group Innosense. A few years later, she decided to go solo by recording a demo tape, landing her in the hands of Jive Records. She was signed to that label and began touring American venues for a series of concerts sponsored by American teen magazines, before her becoming the opening act for *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys.
In early 2002, Spears' four-year relationship with Justin Timberlake ended. Speculation that Spears had been unfaithful began circulating due to Timberlake's 2002 song "Cry Me a River" and its subsequent music video. The song's music video showed an actress playing what could be construed as a Britney look-alike with certain physical features resembling Spears. The video also featured an actual photo taken of Spears and Timberlake standing together. It can be seen when Timberlake kicks the cracked picture frame holding the picture towards the camera, because the director freeze framed the shot. Timberlake has denied that it was meant to portray Britney. June 2002 saw the opening of Spears' restaurant Nyla in New York City, serving Louisianan and Italian styled cruisine. However, she was pulled out of the business venture in November as a result of debts and management issues.
In a September 2003 interview with Tucker Carlson of CNN, on the subject of the 2003 Iraq War, Spears said, "Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens." The footage of this quote later appeared in Michael Moore's documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11.
Spears married childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander on January 3 2004 at The Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. The marriage lasted fifty-five hours, ending with an annulment granted on January 5, which 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".
Months after the Las Vegas incident, Spears embarked on The Onyx Hotel Tour which was cancelled in June, after Spears injured her knee during the filming of the video for the single "Outrageous". An MRI showed floating cartilage in her knee.
Spears reportedly became involved in the Kabbalah Centre in September 2004 through her friendship with Madonna. However, she pubicly left the religion in 2006, stating on her website, "I no longer study Kaballah, my baby is my religion."
2004–2006: Marriage, children and divorce
Spears began a relationship with Kevin Federline and in July 2004, announced her engagement three months after they met. Federline had very recently been in a relationship with actress Shar Jackson, who was eight months pregnant with his second child. These initial stages were chronicled in Spears' first reality show Britney & Kevin: Chaotic, which aired on UPN in May and June 2005. On the night of September 18 2004, Spears married Federline in a surprise, non-denominational ceremony at a residence in Studio City, California, filing legal papers on October 6 2004.
After the marriage, Spears announced via her website that she would be taking another career break to start a family. She stood by her intent of starting a family; announced her pregnancy seven months after the marriage writing, "the time has finally come to share our wonderful news that we are expecting our first child together." Spears gave birth to her first child, Sean Preston Federline, on September 14 2005 in Santa Monica, California by a scheduled caesarean section.
A few months after giving birth to Sean, speculation submerged about Spears being pregnant for a second time. In May 2006, she announced her second pregnancy with an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. Spears appeared on Dateline NBC the next month to discuss tabloid rumors about an impending divorce, and motherhood. She addressed an incident which occurred in February 2006 when photos revealed her driving with her son unrestrained in her lap, explaining, "I see a bunch of photographers and I’m scared and I want to get out of the situation... They’re coming up on the sides of the car which is a scary situation for me... so I get my baby out of the car and I go home." The month following the televised interview, Spears posed nude for the August 2006 cover of Harper's Bazaar. In the accompanying interview, Spears stated that she is not ready to retire from performing.
Just two days shy of Sean's first birthday, Spears gave birth to her second son Jayden James Federline on September 12 2006 in Los Angeles, California. Spears filed for divorce from Federline November 7 2006 citing irreconcilable differences and asking for both physical and legal custody of their two children, with visitation rights for Federline. The following day, Federline filed a response to Spears's divorce petition, seeking physical and legal custody of their children. Laura Wasser has been hired to represent Spears in the case. According to a representative for Federline's lawyer, the divorce filing "caught Kevin totally by surprise". On March 29 2007, Spears and Federline reached a settlement, "All parties signed a global settlement agreement on all issues concerning their marriage and custody of their two children," said Michael Sands, a spokesperson for Federline's lawyer. Although divorce seemed imminent, it was not finalized because the papers were never signed by a judge. On July 30 2007, their marriage was officially over. Spears' attorney stated, "They are divorced. Everything is finalized".
2007: Personal struggles
In January 2007, Spears' aunt, Sandra Bridges Covington, whom she had been very close to, died after a long battle with breast cancer. On February 16 2007, Spears stayed in an off-shore drug rehabilitation facility in Antigua for less than twenty-four hours. The following night, Spears went to a haircutting studio in Tarzana, California and shaved her hair off with clippers. A few days later, on February 20 2007, Spears admitted herself to a treatment facility in Malibu, California. 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." She left the facility briefly but returned on February 22 2007. The previous day, Kevin Federline had requested an emergency hearing regarding the custody of his children with Spears but his attorney announced that his client asked to cancel the court appearance. No further explanation was given. Spears left the rehabilitation centre on March 20 according to her manager, who said she was released after "successfully completing their program".