How British Tabloids Terrorized a Teenage Star

They say that obscurity is the biggest enemy facing artists today, and it’s one hell of a war.

Yet the same firehose that created a flood of fan distractions is also flooding artists lucky enough to succeed.  That is, with an internet-amplified press glare, a camera at every corner, and a near-complete loss of privacy.

It’s like finding water in the desert, only to be waterboarded.  On Monday, Charlotte Church – now 25 – testified in London that her career had actually been ravaged by a ravenous British tabloid press.  “I’ve been made a caricature for so long, and this person portrayed in the tabloids really isn’t me,” Church told members of an ongoing media ethics inquiry in Britain.  “As an artist, I find it hard to be taken seriously because my credibility has been blown to bits.”

In other words, all the media pushing and strategizing at the beginning of her career eventually created an out-of-control animal.  Perhaps the era of managing positive press relationships and controlling access is over: in a telling tale, Church actually waived a 100 pound ($160,000) offer to perform privately for Rupert Murdoch at age 13.  According to the testimony, Church’s team had the calculating idea that a freebie performance would curry some favorable press coverage in the years ahead.  “This strategy failed,” Church relayed.

Instead, Church reported the following details of a press glare-gone-wrong over a period of more than a decade.

Church’s mother attempted suicide after the press caught wind of her husband’s extra-marital affair.  The story was ultimately published by News of the World while the mother was in the hospital.

Church was the subject of a high-profile countdown to age 16, the age of consent, by the Sun newspaper.

Church suspected that family members and friends were leaking close secrets for many years, when the actual source was most likely an illegally hacked phone.  Church ended numerous friendships as a result.

The Sun reported Church’s pregnancy even before her family found out, most likely by accessing hacked voicemails.

For years, photographers repeatedly attempted to snap upskirt and down-bra shots, even as a teenager.

Church was forced to hire bodyguards for a trip to America after after a tabloid quoted her as making disparaging remarks about 9/11 firefighters.  She denies the comments were even made.

The Leveson Inquiry, being held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, is expected to produce a detailed report by next September.

/paul. Written while listening to Cults.

8 Responses

  1. Bummer

    I guess being worth 11 million GBP at age 25 is just not what it’s cracked up to be….

    Maybe she should move to France like Johnny Depp…

  2. Vail, CO

    Used to be that big artists could control the media, granting exclusives and interviews and such. Not as much the case when you’re dealing with the TMZ world — they control the access, the schedule, so you better embrace it.

  3. CraigDiPaolo

    Obscurity sucks no matter how you slice it. These are great problems to have.

  4. Kim Palacios

    Performers and public figures should have the right to privacy much as anyone else, ESPECIALLY children. So, have a heart and give Charlotte Church a break, please. As a teenager, she could not possibly have understood the implications of her fame, nor could she have necessarily opted out of that lifestyle. It’s not like she went into it eyes wide open and now she’s bitching about the drawbacks of fame.

    I think many young people who are in the spotlight don’t have the life experience to know what they’re getting into, and to choose. Lindsay Lohan is a hot mess, but she was a child star and I’m sure that her life would be different had she had the judgment of an adult when she was in the spotlight. But, of course, she wasn’t an adult. She was a child.

    • gaetano

      As minors, they need parents to cosign on work, and think in their best interests.

      These decisions were made for them in many cases, their parents are as much to blame.

    • paul

      It’s actually $156,100 on current exchange valuations. Rounded upward.


  5. @helienne


    I like the flipside of fame analogy: ‘It’s like finding water in the desert, only to be waterboarded.’