A month ago, Britney Spears pledged to trade naughty for nice. But the holidays came and went, and the partying went on.
With speculation rampant over whether or not the singer passed out on New Year's Eve, her public make-out sessions with producer (and not to mention her ex's friend) J.R. Rotem and barely-there outfits (at least now she's wearing undergarments), it's no wonder one of her fan sites has changed its tune. There are even rumors that Jive Records, her label, is considering dropping her (which it denies).
It's all a long way from what she promised a month ago (see "Britney Speaks: 'Thank God For Victoria's Secret's New Underwear!' ").
Spears' manager, Larry Rudolph, tried to do some damage control by calling the past few weeks the singer's "rocky moment" and telling USA Today that "Britney knows exactly what she needs to do."
So on Friday (January 5), Spears took matters into her own hands and wrote a new letter to fans. This time, it wasn't an apology — but an indictment of the media for "exaggerating my every move" (see "Panty-Free Britney, Quick-Divorce Pam: Why Do Stars Make Bad Choices?") and a promise to come back this year "bigger and better than ever."
"The last couple of years have been quite a ride for me," Spears wrote. "The media has criticized my every move and printed a skewed perception of who I really am as a human being. Behind every decision I have made in my public life there always seems to be an apparent contradiction. I have come to terms with that, which is why I usually don't pay much attention to it.
"I noticed today that one of my biggest fan sites is shutting down soon," she continued, referring to WorldofBritney.com, "and I want you all to know that I do understand all the reasons that went behind making that decision, and I am sad to see it closing. If I were you I'd be unhappy too if I had to read what I've been reading every day."
A recent poll conducted by The Associated Press and America Online had 29 percent of the adults surveyed choosing Spears as the worst celebrity role model — with Paris Hilton, her recent party pal, coming in second at 18 percent. Spears hasn't been photographed with Hilton since last month, and she essentially admitted that she has a ways to go before she can reclaim her fanbase.
"Trust me, I get it," she wrote. "I know I've been far from perfect and the media has had a lot of fun exaggerating my every move ... I look forward to coming back this year bigger and better than ever."
Spears said that over the last couple of years, she's had "time to be 'me,' " which has given her a new perspective on her music and her career. "I've been able to sit down and think about where I want to go with myself as an entertainer with absolutely no strings attached," she wrote. "I am now more mature and feel like I am finally 'free.' " Combined with her filing for divorce from Kevin Federline on November 7, that statement seems a clear signal that her nesting days are at an end (see "Britney & Kevin Timeline: Those Were The Days ..." and "12 Ways For Britney To Get Her Groove Back").
Spears said she'd been "working so hard" on her new album, which is due "later this year, but the date is of course not certain yet." A tour is also in the works.
Ruben Garay, founder of WorldofBritney.com, told MTV News on Friday, "Britney has taken the first humble and genuine step on her own that will hopefully ensure a successful comeback in the eyes of her fans.
"My advice to Britney following this huge effort on her part is to lay low, stay out of the paparazzi's way, stick to her word, and focus entirely on making her new album and tour a huge success," he continued. "This changes everything. She raised the bar on herself and everyone is going to be watching her next move now more closer than ever."
In announcing the closing of WorldofBritney.com (which shutters on January 31), Garay said in part, "As Britney keeps losing her identity and credibility within fans and industry people, so is [worldofbritney.com] ... I think that WoB has had its run ... its feet are not holding firm anymore, not because of my ability to run it, but because I believe Britney is unfortunately done (for me at least). No matter what anyone thinks or how they may disagree, it's very hard to maintain the respect needed to keep things going."
Spears' letter wasn't her only filing on Friday — she also resolved some custody issues with Federline, at least for the next month, by granting him temporary joint custody for January, according to documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Spears is allowed to travel to Miami with 1-year-old Sean Preston and 4-month-old Jayden James from Friday through Thursday. Once they return from Miami, Federline is allowed to visit the kids at Spears' home on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between noon and 4 p.m. Federline asks in the court filing that no one else be present except for Spears, her assistant, the nanny and other household staff, but no agreement has been reached on that matter or other details beyond January.