First the split, then the court fight. What now for Ms Mills?
Her image is at an all-time low, but reality TV could yet give Heather the last laugh
Sunday 23 March 2008
As her celebrity persona passes into temporary obscurity perhaps its time to stop and take a close look at the Heather Mills phenomenon. Not since the cult of Myra Hindley have we encountered so much vitriol aimed at one woman. Poor Heather has been on a rough ride and taken a long drop into a deep well of resentment. So, what is her crime? To marry a pop royal and then try to convince the world that she was bigger than her Beatle?
I have to admit I was part of the smug media cartel that pontificated about her ego, hubris, prominent outbursts and estrangement from reality. However, I believe that we all might have to reappraise the woman if she manages to turn it around and use her high profile divorce as a springboard to greater things. At a time when the granddaddy of spin, Lord Bell, is being hired to launder the image of Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus's autocratic president, Heather's quest seems more achievable.
So where does she go from here? The media makes no bones about its derisory treatment of her: she has been branded Pornocchio, Mucca and a porn star, but the fact is, she IS the (now) ex-wife of Sir Paul McCartney and, boy, is she going to have the last laugh. I predicted on my blog that she would soon be packing her trunk and three-ring circus and pitching up on main street USA to plunder the love. Let us not forget it was Yoko Ono who praised Heather for changing US public opinion of her by appearing on Dancing with the Stars. Even though Heather was knocked out in Week Six of the series, many viewers – including Yoko – were impressed by her determination to dance with her prosthetic leg.
She has guaranteed stardom in the States. Both Sarah Ferguson and Catherine Zeta-Jones exploited the US despite being written off by the British media establishment. The majority of the American public do not read or care about the British red tops, and every TV chat show and host will want to talk to her for one reason and one reason only – to be tantalisingly close to possibly the outburst of the decade. She will probably be offered all manner of breaks and cash to do this, and I am sure she will be smart and manipulate this interest to further her career.
Heather Mills's self-belief and determination, together with her hubris, drive an ego that knows no bounds. Rebooting celebrity is about dedication and blind faith. I remember a client calling me up on a lazy Boxing Day afternoon questioning why I had not checked in with him the previous day. I replied that perhaps he had forgotten it was Christmas Day. He barked down the phone: "Mark, that's the point. I should be in your thoughts every waking hour."
Happily I am no longer repping the tyrant, but his monstrous sense of self-worth is now matched by his current box office value. I suspect Heather would expect that dedication and she also has a handsome war chest that will give her the means to hire the best tactical strategist.
The media and Heather Mills are symbiotic – they need each other to perpetuate themselves and this need exaggerates expectation. She will prove the maxim that anyone can become a celebrity once they have themselves in the news and have the power to keep themselves in the news. The great US publicist, Maynard Nottage, was the first person to leverage scandal. He courted criminals, thugs, and fallen celebrities of the 1930s to join his list of clients. Trust me, the Nottages of the 21st century are on hand, ready to lock and load.
There is an obscure US website which acts as a matchmaker, putting cash-strapped causes and celebrities together. Currently on the site is an animal welfare group that seeks a voice to help save nearly 600 fighting roosters, which were farm-bred for illegal cockfights, from humane slaughter. My advice: come on Heather, leap on your charger and fight for their lives. The press are suckers for a photo op with a cute animal in tow. It could be a great start on the short journey to recovery.
The writer is a media commentator and publicist. His book, 'The Fame Formula', will be published by Macmillan in August
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