The big premiere of X Factor starring Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, L.A. Reid and of course Simon Cowell as judges, is tonight. As part of the build up, Simon has strategically been releasing stories about Britney, because he knows that people are just waiting for her to stir up controversy and/or mess up somehow. Last week, Simon admitted to TMZ that the stories about Britney walking off the X Factor set on her first day were true. This is in contrast to denials made at the time. Simon told TMZ that they tried to smooth the story over with the press, but that it did happen and that Britney had a panic attack. Britney also told Elle Magazine, which she covers this October, that she suffered panic attacks on her first day on set. She said she was “extremely nervous. Like, I was having panic attack after panic attack.”
As part of the big build up to the X-Factor, The Daily Beast has a new profile of Britney’s fiance, Jason Trawick. It’s a well written piece that paints Trawick as a very decent, hardworking guy on one hand but also the architect of Britney’s comeback, and her guardian, on the other. Author Ramin Setoodeh dances around the subject of whether Britney is being manipulated by Trawick. Here are some relevant parts:
Trawick, 40, is often credited with performing a kind of Houdini act on Britney, 30. After her meltdown, which included losing custody of her kids, rehab, hitting paparazzi with her car, being institutionalized, and countless other crazy moments (like the disastrous performance of “Gimme More” at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards), he—in tandem with her father, Jamie Spears—seemingly helped Britney reappear on planet Earth, at least looking normal. He accomplished this turnaround first as the agent who signed her to William Morris Endeavor Entertainment in 2008. In 2009, their relationship turned romantic. In 2011, Trawick quit his job to focus solely on Britney—and last December, they got engaged.
It’s hard to tell who benefits from this relationship more. Spears is one of the most successful acts in the history of pop music. She’s worth an estimated $200 million and her seven albums have sold more than 100 million copies. But in 2007, after the sad series of bizarre personal episodes, Britney’s career hit a wall. (Through her publicist, Spears declined to comment. Trawick offered to look at questions over email, but never responded.) She returned in her 2009 Circus comeback tour, during which Britney stood glassy-eyed in sold-out arenas, lip-syncing her old hits. Some people noticed the new Spears looked vacant, but it didn’t matter. The tour, an exercise in voyeurism, grossed more than $131 million.
Since 2008, Spears’s dad Jamie has been the sole conservator of her estate. In April a court appointed Trawick as the co-conservator, a situation that arises when a court decides a person “can’t adequately provide food, clothing, and shelter” for herself, says Meg Lodise, a partner at a Los Angeles law firm specializing in conservatorships. In other words, Britney has all the rights of a child.
Nevertheless, she’s poised to debut as a judge on The X Factor this week, and sources say that Trawick was key in convincing her to accept a $15 million, one-year contract to join the Simon Cowell singing Olympics. During audition rounds, gossip sites were salivating at reports that Spears frequently had to abandon her judge’s perch for a break—it became part of the hype of the show—and, according to one TV source, Trawick was always waiting in the wings. To prove that she’s normal, he’s booked her first magazine covers and talk-show appearances in a while.
The Britney press tour kicked off with a story in Elle magazine—Elle released images and interview snippets last week. Trawick appears in one of the photos; they cuddle as he holds a guitar. He also let it slip to the writer that Spears pursued him, not the other way around. “OK, that’s enough information, sweetie,” Spears said, interrupting the story. A few days later, a source told Radar Online that Trawick was lying and that he “had feelings for Britney for a very, very long time.”…
Shy or not, Spears gravitated to Trawick’s outgoing personality, and she started to rely on him more and more. He’s not the typical Ari Gold agent, with the greasy handshake and temper tantrums. According to one close former colleague, Trawick is so easy going, he never even raises his voice. Trawick grew up on Long Island, with dreams of becoming a professional hockey player. When those didn’t pan out, he moved to Hollywood and worked his way up from the agency mailroom. He had a reputation for inserting himself into meetings, but because of his nonthreatening demeanor, nobody objected. Once he became a full-fledged agent, he started handling crossover talent, such as singers who were big enough to big actors and vice versa. His roster included Taylor Swift, Hilary Duff, Paris Hilton, and country star Dwight Yoakam…
Trawick’s former work colleagues liked him, too. But looking back, they noticed a drastic physical transformation once he started dating Spears. The Daily Mail reported he lost 50 pounds by cutting carbs from his diet. He traded his bulky plaid shirts for fitted suits. He always brought a heavy-duty hockey duffel with him to work, but he hit the gym more often and toned down. “If he was working out, he wanted her to join him,” says a source. In an effort to be healthier, he and Spears both vowed to quit smoking together. (He failed.). And nearly everyone I interviewed stressed how good a parental figure he’s been to her sons—Sean Preston, who turns 7 this week, and Jayden James, whose sixth birthday is Wednesday. On Halloween, he’d order their costumes online and he was constantly buying them toys, like Spider-Man and GI Joe action figures.
Let’s remember that Trawick is romantically involved with a woman who has the same legal rights as a child. It sounds like a potentially difficult situation.
We fans and viewers won’t get a glimpse of the real Spears until October. That’s when The X Factor transitions from taped auditions to a live competition, and we see what Spears looks and acts like without the powers of editing. If she self-destructs in front of the world again, X Factor ratings will go through the roof, but at the cost of her own well-being.
So I guess we’ll have to see how Britney does on X-Factor, but at least part of that will be down to editing. Since producers acted like Britney was fine, they may just cut her walk-offs out of the show. It’s hard to tell now that Simon has owned up to it though. That was clever, and I know it will get me to tune in.
As for whether Jason is pulling the strings, maybe he is. Maybe that’s what Britney needs at this time. I don’t know. I just hope that if she feels like he’s controlling her she also feels like she doesn’t have to marry him.