It started with a song, "...Baby One More Time." In the last ten years, Britney Spears has gone from a shooting star to a fallen one. And while her rise to fame made the pop singer lots of money, the cash right now is in covering the fast-moving trainwreck-esque soap opera her personal life as become. The facts and figures in a detailed AP story by Jeremy Herron may not surprise you, but it's interesting to see them tallied: Britney is the number one celebrity in a multibillion dollar celebrity news industry. Her picture has been on 54 out of 103 covers of OK! magazine. The magazine, in fact, has a 10-person team in Los Angeles devoted to Spears coverage. "We're on constant Britney alert," editor Sarah Ivens says. In addition, according to a piece in the new issue of Blender, 15 photographers are on constant Britney stakeout. "Spears is the only celebrity in the world under photographers' 24-hour watch, a surveillance mode usually reserved for prisoners and suicides," writes Michael Joseph Gross.
More facts: Britney's hospitalization on January 3 drove traffic to new heights on sites like PerezHilton.com and TMZ. "Britney is the most bankable celebrity out there right now, and she has been for the past year," says Francois Navarre, co-owner of photo agency x17 (the same agency that posted those photos of Britney menstruating through her underwear). Sometimes we get e-mails asking us to "Stop writing about Britney." And the truth is, we don't post about her as much as we could, were we so inclined. We include her in Dirt Bag and Midweek Madness, but she's rarely, if ever, the subject of a Snap Judgment (and it's not for a lack of photographs!). Honestly? It's tough to stay away from her: She's been a part of the American — nay, global — consciousness for a decade, and it would be disingenuous to pretend we're not interested in what she's doing, where she's going and what's happening to her, especially since her life is a whirlwind of monumental events: rehab, head-shaving, losing custody of her kids.