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Celebrity columnist Perez Hilton was visibly incensed as he spoke to Sky News today on the “exploitation” of Britney Spears.

He also apologised for the abuse he had given her over the years on his blog, saying he felt “deep shame and regret” for his part in fuelling the media circus that brought Britney to her knees in the noughties.

Justin Timberlake was also quick to tweet support for Britney following her court appearance in which she is trying to overthrow the controversial conservatorship in place since she had a breakdown in 2008.

Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake at the 2002 NBA All-Star game at the Philadelphia Convention Center
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Justin Timberlake’s support for his ex-girlfriend sits awkwardly

Timberlake’s words of support sit awkwardly next to the apology he issued to his ex-girlfriend after seemingly realising his own contribution to the damage done to the singer over the last 25 years. (He used his music video to brand Spears a cheat, and told the world he took her virginity.)

Britney’s father, Jamie Spears, via his lawyer, said he was sorry his daughter is suffering.

Entertainment journalist Ashley Pearson says the case has confirmed fans’ worst fears – that Spears has been living like a prisoner, but questions whether the conservatorship was needed in the first place and who ultimately is to blame?

“This is not just an overcontrolling dad,” says Pearson.

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“He couldn’t do this on his own. There were judges, doctors and experts along the way who agreed to this. Why? What do they know that we don’t?”

Could this episode even trigger a reckoning in the music industry on a similar scale to that of Hollywood and MeToo?

Britney Spears
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Spears’s life change forever in 1998 when Baby One More Time became a worldwide hit

In the noughties – not unlike Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse – Britney Spears was tabloid fodder, judged not on her talent, but her private life and subsequent collapse of her marriage to Kevin Federline, the father of her two children.

After her breakdown in 2008 she was placed under the conservatorship, with her father assigned her legal guardian – the measures she is currently trying to have lifted.

It seems then Britney did need ‘saving’. Saving from the pressures of fame, the paparazzi, addiction, the people who might exploit, steal from her, use and abuse her.

Music manager Jonathan Shalit understands the harm that can be done when the entertainment industry and media are reckless. He managed Charlotte Church and Tulisa among others.

Shalit finds the Britney case deeply uncomfortable.

A portrait of Britney Spears looms over supporters and media members outside a court hearing concerning the pop singer's conservatorship in Los Angeles. Pic: AP
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The case has put the singer firmly back into the media spotlight. Pic: AP


“In 1998 the world embraced Britney in a manner which would now be regarded as entirely inappropriate. Britney was globally sexualised with endorsement of even her own parents at the age of 17.

“As to whether Britney’s affairs need controlling for reasons alleged they do, the courts need to decide.

“But what I find immensely concerning is that all these years later, it is her father who continues to be the one in control, with so many issues of seemingly legitimate concern about his suitability,” Shalit told Sky News.

If the overriding concern aside from her mental health was that she would end up losing her money, so what?

She wouldn’t be the first star to go broke or file for bankruptcy, Michael Jackson, 50 Cent and MC Hammer have all been there.

Could it be that they were saved from having their assets and finances taken over by a conservatorship because they are men?

A conservatorship is usually reserved for people with dementia and at serious risk of making damaging decisions.

We can only assume the judge who granted this conservatorship had the singer’s best interests in mind, and that most likely her dad did too. But the conservatorship has lasted 13 years, and many question why Spears has only now been permitted to speak publicly about it.

With so many people around her, where was the duty of care? Rock and roll might revel in a reputation for chaos, but the well-oiled machine driving it is anything but chaotic.

Jamie Spears, pictured in 2012, says he saved his daughter from financial ruin. Pic: AP
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Jamie Spears, pictured in 2012, says he saved his daughter from financial ruin. Pic: AP

The priority is understandably ensuring the ‘talent’ is protected so they can continue to be profitable. So you might assume their best interests are guaranteed.

But as this case proves, that’s a dangerous assumption.

And while the world of red carpets, private jets and decadence might seem a long way from most people’s reality, Britney’s story resonates.

By comparing her situation to being “sex trafficked” says it all.

Spears says contraceptives and lithium have been forced on her. That she is a slave. And that her father should be in jail.

Britney Spears accepts the Vanguard Award at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Beverly Hills in 2018
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The singer’s case is an ’emblem’ for the toxicity of fame, says one PR agent

Having just had her backstory packaged by the revealing New York Times documentary Framing Britney, we were prepared to be shocked by this court appearance, but still this is truly shocking.

It says so much about the controlling nature of the music industry and misogyny in entertainment.

Mark Borkowski, a PR agent and author who worked with Michael Jackson among others, concedes we’d be foolish to write off the case as an isolated or unique situation.

He describes it as a “cypher” and “emblem” for the toxicity of fame.

“There is a dark side of fame… There is currently a state of unhinged acceleration towards a… culture of hyper-egocentrism. These conditions have a profound effect on mental wellbeing. For many, the residue of fame in the 21st century is a pressurised life defined by the crowd,” says Borkowski.

So who next should apologise to Britney? Will all be revealed in the end on Oprah? Will any lessons be learnt about treating women in the spotlight with basic respect and human decency? Watch this space.

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Sabrina Carpenter: US singer breaks Ariana Grande’s UK chart record

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Sabrina Carpenter: US singer breaks Ariana Grande's UK chart record

Sabrina Carpenter has set a new UK chart record by becoming the youngest female artist to take the top two singles spots in the same week.

The US singer reached number one on the Official Charts Company rundown with Please Please Please, pushing Espresso, which had been at the top for five weeks, down to number two.

Please Please Please totalled 9.8 million combined streams, while Espresso came in second with 8.1 million streams.

Sabrina Carpenter during the BBC Radio1 Big Weekend at Stockwood Park, Luton. Picture date: Sunday May 26, 2024.
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Sabrina Carpenter during the BBC Radio1 Big Weekend in May. Pic: PA

At the age of 25 years, one month and 10 days, Carpenter overtakes Ariana Grande, the previous youngest holder of the record, by around six months.

Grande achieved the same two-spot hold in the same week when she was 25 years, seven months and 20 days old in February 2019 with 7 Rings at number one and Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored at number two.

Eminem is at number three this week with Houdini, while Billie Eilish’s Birds Of A Feather is at number four, followed by Shaboozey’s A Bar Song (Tipsy).

Taylor Swift doesn’t make the top five, but sets a new personal best in the albums chart with a seventh week at the top.

The Tortured Poets Department earns a seventh non-consecutive week at number one, surpassing 2022’s Midnights which spent five weeks at the summit.

Swift is in the UK for her Eras Tour, and will take to the stage in London’s Wembley Stadium on Friday evening.

Taylor Swift. Pic: David Fisher/Shutterstock
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Taylor Swift. Pic: David Fisher/Shutterstock

At number two is US singer-songwriter Eilish’s latest record Hit Me Hard And Soft, while British singer Charli XCX’s Brat came in at number three.

In fourth spot is Canadian musician The Weeknd’s greatest hits collection The Highlights.

Read more on Sky News:
Taylor Swift tube map published
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British rock group Sea Girls also celebrate a hat-trick of top five albums as their third studio collection Midnight Butterflies makes its debut at number five.

The group previously saw success with 2020’s Open Up Your Head and 2022 LP Homesick, which both reached number three.

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Taylor Swift Tube map released as Wembley Stadium hosts London Eras Tour shows

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Taylor Swift Tube map released as Wembley Stadium hosts London Eras Tour shows

London’s iconic Tube map has been redrawn to celebrate the arrival of Taylor Swift’s tour in the capital.

As the US megastar’s Eras Tour descends on the city, fans, or Swifties, will be able to navigate their way around using a redesigned London Underground layout, with each line named after a different album and drawn in sequin colours to match – with stations denoted by her songs.

Under the changes, the Central Line has been renamed Red after the singer’s fourth album while the Victoria Line becomes 1989, the Bakerloo Line Evermore and the Northern Line her latest release, The Tortured Poets Department.

The map also highlights a host of places across the capital that are referenced in her music.

Notable locations on the Taylor trail – some of which feature in her song London Boy, include the West End, Soho, Bond Street, Camden Market, Highgate, Hampstead Heath, Vauxhall, Shoreditch, Hackney, Brixton and Kentish Town.

Taylor Swift. Pic: David Fisher/Shutterstock
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Swift has already played sell-out shows in Edinburgh, Liverpool and Cardiff. Pic: David Fisher/Shutterstock

Taylor Swift inspired London tube map. Each line is named after a different album and drawn in sequin colours to match, with stations named after songs, and gemstones to reflect key locations with links to Taylor that fans can visit. 
Pic:Mayor of London's Press Office/PA
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Each line is named after a different album and stations denoted by her songs. Mayor of London’s Press Office/PA

Swift-fever even spread to Buckingham Palace earlier on Friday where Shake It Off was played at the traditional Changing of the Guard ceremony.

The pop star has already played sell-out shows in Edinburgh, Liverpool and Cardiff and it is now the turn of fans at Wembley Stadium to get a sprinkling of stardust.

They have waited more than a year for the tour to arrive, after Swift kicked off her marathon string of dates in Glendale, Arizona, in March 2023.

Since then, she has crossed the US, Asia and South America and made stops across Europe, sometimes accompanied by her boyfriend, the American football star Travis Kelce.

She will play three nights at Wembley Stadium on Friday, Saturday and Sunday before taking the tour to Dublin next week.

Swift will return to London for five more shows in August.

Pic: Mayor of London's Press Office/PA
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The map has been redesigned to mark the megastar’s arrival in the capital. Mayor of London’s Press Office/PA

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Her fans are expected to boost the London economy by £300m as the capital hosts more Eras Tour shows than any other city in the world, with nearly 640,000 people expected to attend across the eight dates.

Specially-designed murals have also been created to mark her arrival.

Jen Neal, who crocheted a Taylor Swift blanket over 50 hours, shows off her work outside Wembley
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Jen Neal, who crocheted a Taylor Swift blanket over 50 hours, shows off her work outside Wembley


Fans pose on the Swiftie Steps at Wembley Stadium in London, ahead of Taylor Swift's first concert.
Pic: PA
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Wembley’s Spanish Steps have temporarily been renamed the Swiftie Steps. Pic: PA

Wembley Park is hosting two new public artworks including one on the Spanish Steps, which are being temporarily renamed the Swiftie Steps.

The blockbuster tour takes fans on a journey through the different musical stages of her career.

Fans wait outside Wembley Stadium in London, ahead of Taylor Swift's first London concert, during her Eras Tour. Picture date: Friday June 21, 2024.
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Excited fans have been gathering throughout the day. Pic: PA


Fans display their bracelets as they wait to enter Wembley Stadium in London, ahead of Taylor Swift's first London concert, during her Eras Tour.
Pic: PA
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Pic: PA

Thousands of concert-goers have already arrived at Wembley eager to soak up the atmosphere of what promises to be a memorable performance.

Among those at the stadium were Lauren Robinson, 20, who had travelled from Cheshire, and her friend Grace Arnold, 24, who had travelled from the Wirral.

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Taylor Swift kicks off UK leg of Eras tour

Fans gather outside Wembley Stadium in London, ahead of Taylor Swift's first London concert
Pic: PA
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Fans gather outside Wembley Stadium in London, ahead of Taylor Swift’s first London concert. Pic: PA

Ms Robinson said: “Coming to the capital has got to be the best place to see the tour.”

She added: “It’s like going to a party with all your best friends.”

Fans wait outside Wembley Stadium in London, ahead of Taylor Swift's first London concert.
Pic: PA
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Fans wait outside Wembley Stadium in London, ahead of Taylor Swift’s first London concert. Pic: PA

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Ms Arnold said she was most looking forward to the Folklore set (Swift’s eighth studio album), but said the potential surprise songs “actually make me feel sick to think about”.

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Jane Fonda leads tributes to Hollywood legend Donald Sutherland

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Jane Fonda leads tributes to Hollywood legend Donald Sutherland

Tributes have poured in for actor Donald Sutherland after he died following a long illness.

The 88-year-old was best known for his roles in Ordinary People, The Hunger Games franchise and M*A*S*H.

His son, Kiefer Sutherland, confirmed the news “with a heavy heart” as Oscar-winner Jane Fonda and other stars of the big screen led tributes to the Canadian actor.

“With a heavy heart, I tell you that my father, Donald Sutherland, has passed away.

“I personally think one of the most important actors in the history of film.

“Never daunted by a role, good, bad or ugly. He loved what he did and did what he loved, and one can never ask for more than that. A life well lived,” the son said of his father.

File photo dated 05/11/15 of Donald Sutherland attending the UK Premiere of The Hunger Games:…
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Donald Sutherland attending the UK premiere of The Hunger Games

Among Sutherland’s best-known roles was the detective John Klute, who attempted to protect Fonda’s character Bree Daniels from a killer stalking her.

More on Kiefer Sutherland

US actress Fonda shared a black-and-white image of Sutherland from their 1971 hit where she won her Oscar for best actress, and said: “I am heartbroken,”.

The pair dated for a period in 1971 and staged a travelling anti-war roadshow for US soldiers.

Actor Donald Sutherland answers questions from film critic Leonard Maltin in 1998. Pic: Reuters
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Actor Donald Sutherland answers questions from film critic Leonard Maltin in 1998. Pic: Reuters

Leading politicians like US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also paid tribute after the actor’s passing.

Mr Trudeau called him a “truly great Canadian artist”, after he learned of his death during a news conference relating to a national school food programme.

Mr Biden described Sutherland as a “one-of-a-kind actor who inspired and entertained the world for decades” in a post on X.

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Flowers placed on Sutherland’s star

Dame Helen Mirren was among the British actors and actresses paying tribute.

She appeared alongside Sutherland in 2017’s The Leisure Seeker, following their 1990 drama Bethune: The Making Of A Hero.

“Donald Sutherland was one of the smartest actors I ever worked with,” Dame Helen said in a statement.

“He had a wonderful enquiring brain and a great knowledge on a wide variety of subjects.

“He combined this great intelligence with a deep sensitivity and with a seriousness about his profession as an actor.

“This all made him into the legend of film that he became.”

Most recently, many will know Sutherland from his role in The Hunger Games franchise where he played dictator President Coriolanus Snow.

The official account for The Hunger Games film called him “the kindest man in the world” who portrayed “the most corrupt, ruthless dictator we’ve ever seen”.

Sutherland with his son Kiefer. Pic: Reuters
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Sutherland with his son Kiefer. Pic: Reuters

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Throughout his career, Sutherland is perhaps best known as the womanising Captain Benjamin Franklin ‘Hawkeye’ Pierce Junior, from the 1970 film version M*A*S*H.

His co-star Elliott Gould, who played the Captain ‘Trapper’ John Francis Xavier McIntyre, called Sutherland a “giant” who was “enormously kind and generous”.

Gould recalled they were both “young fathers” when they worked together and said his death “really profoundly hurts because Donald was like my brother, and a big part of my own career”.

Rob Lowe, known for his role in The West Wing and a number of other movies, said Sutherland was “one of our greatest actors” and that it had been an “honour” to star alongside him on the miniseries Salem’s Lot, in 2004.

“I will never forget his charisma and ability,” Lowe said.

Others, including Elijah Wood, who rose to fame playing Frodo Baggins, paid tribute as well.

Sutherland is survived by his wife Francine Racette, sons Roeg, Rossif, Angus, and Kiefer, daughter Rachel, and four grandchildren.

His agency said a private celebration of his life will be held by the family.

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