Lindsay, Usher, Aaron: Mother Managers In the Best Interest or Conflict of Interest?
By Stephanie DuBois
"Mother is the name of God in the lips and hearts of children."
- English novelist, William Makepeace Thackeray
A mother's love protects, inspires, comforts.... A mother's love is the port in the storm, the oasis in the desert, the light in the dark.... A mother's love is... well, you get what I mean.
But often when a mother decides to manage her own child it stops being about the fruit of her labor and becomes about the labor of her fruit. And sometimes what started out seeming in the best interest of the child ends up being a conflict of interest, especially if the child becomes the primary source of income for the family. Can a mother follow her heart and her business sense at the same time without priorities shifting and lines getting blurred?
Grammy-Award-winning singer/actor Usher
spoke dearly of his long-time mother/manager Jonetta Patton to Jet Magazine in 2002.
"The greatest sacrifice my mom has made for me is giving her entire life to help me fulfill my dream and become who I am today."
However, Usher recently announced in an AP story that he wanted Patton to just be "mom" now and she'd no longer be in charge of his career. Usher denied any problems between them, saying "At this time in my life, I am simply more interested in building the strength of my family. And in order to do that, I feel it's best to separate my business life from my personal life. This is great for me because it means I now get to have my mother strictly as my mother with no added pressure."
Here's hoping it's the best move for them both. There have been far too many occasions where a celebrity parted ways with his or her mother/manager, only to find both positions vacated.
In 2003, pop singer Aaron Carter severed all personal and professional ties with his co-manager/mother after his parents divorced, alleging she took more than $100,000 from his bank account without his permission. "I feel betrayed by my own mother," said the then-16-year-old Carter. He went on to file for legal emancipation, but later dropped a lawsuit against his mom with whom he eventually reconciled - at least personally.
Brooke Shields' mom/manager Teri Shields was the quintessential stage mother, creating controversy in the late 70s/early 80s by allowing her little girl to play precocious, provocative young things in films like "Pretty Baby," "Blue Lagoon" and "Endless Love," followed by racy Calvin Klein jean ads. Teri's controlling ways led to a love-hate relationship between the two till Brooke finally let her Mom go as her manager when she turned 30. They became further estranged during her first marriage to Andre Agassi, and Teri has reportedly not been made any more welcome since Brooke's made a new home with current hubby, Chris Henchy, and their two children.
It's unclear if some mother/managers recognize which job came first - The Mother or The Manager -- particularly when we see talent like Lindsay Lohan slip-sliding away before our very eyes.
Labeled a "party girl" by age 17, Lindsay Lohan moved in with her then boyfriend, Wilmer Valderamma in 2004. By 2005 she was exhibiting dramatic weight loss, the same year she made headlines with three car accidents. Her partying reached new heights amidst rumors and denials of drug use and feuds with Hilary Duff over another ex-boyfriend, Aaron Carter. Then in July, 2006, she was hospitalized while shooting "Georgia Rule" for being allegedly "overheated and dehydrated." However, Morgan Creek Productions CEO James G. Robinson accused Lohan in a letter of "all night heavy partying" and making up "bogus excuses" and threatened her with legal ramifications.
Lohan's mother, Dina, finally surfaced to defend her daughter -- not for all her exploits leading up to earning the nickname "firecrotch" -- but for earning the nickname "Lazy Lohan." She appeared on Access Hollywood, saying that Robinson's letter was "way out of line" and that Lindsay - who suffers from asthma - had been working in 105-degree heat on the film. According to People magazine, Lohan started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in Dec. 2006 then a month later entered rehab. She continues to be plagued by tabloid reports that her rehab stint was less than successful, however.
But then sometimes it is in one's best interest to have Mom in all corners.
When nude photos of Alyssa Milano popped up on the internet in 1997, her mother/manager, Lin Milano, was not of the current seeming mindset that any pubic, er, public exposure is good. To fight back, Mama Milano formed a company called Cyber-Trackers to shut down web sites that routinely use celebrity names, images or likeness without authorization.
Multi-Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Jewel and her mother/manager, Lenedra Carroll, suffered side by side in VW vans while she was trying to make it. But while seeing to her daughter's career, Carroll was also seeing to her daughter's growth. She didn't just encourage Jewel to follow her dreams she encouraged her to be a better human being. In 1999, Jewel and her mother established Higher Ground for Humanity, an organization whose mission is to inspire positive change on global, community and individual levels. Higher Ground's main focus is the ClearWater Project, which organizes teams of scientists and engineers to bring safe, clean drinking water to impoverished communities worldwide.
The obvious answer to the question which came first -- The Mother or The Manager? The Mother.
And that's a good thing.