Britney Spears isn't dumb.
She's well aware of the fans who have been alienated in recent months by her headline-generating behavior.
"She understands what's going on right now, and she calls it her 'rocky moment,' " says Spears' manager, Larry Rudolph. "Britney knows exactly what she needs to do."
Rudolph is speaking out to address news that on Jan. 31, World of Britney, the largest unofficial fan website devoted to Spears, is closing down after more than six years. Among the reasons: her image.
Rudolph concedes that Spears, 25, has acted out in ways to fuel negative publicity. "I'm not defending it, and she's not defending it." But many of the tabloid reports, he says, are either untrue or exaggerated. When she nodded off during an appearance at a Las Vegas nightclub New Year's Eve, he was getting calls asking which hospital she was in. "We were sitting there drinking orange juice. She got tired in a club, and we took her back to her room. Suddenly, I'm hearing words like 'collapsed' and 'passed out.' "
From a fan's perspective, "from what they've been seeing and hearing, I understand the disappointment," Rudolph says. "But Britney is increasingly motivated to get out there. She sees this as a challenge, that some fans may be questioning her. She is respectful. She sees this as her challenge to win them back."
The singer's next album is about half completed, Rudolph says, and in the next few weeks, her focus will be in the studio. "She's real excited." There is no official release date yet, but Rudolph says an "educated guess" calls for a single released in late summer and an album in late fall.
Rudolph, who directed Spears' career until 2003, came back on board just two months ago, the day Spears filed for divorce from Kevin Federline, 28. The singer's self-imposed break from recording and touring "clearly" didn't go as she had planned, he says.
Spears married Federline in 2004, and they have two sons, 1-year-old Sean Preston and 3-month-old Jayden James. Spears filed for divorce Nov. 7, "and that of itself is a sign to fans that she's serious" about a professional comeback.
"She's taking all the right steps," Rudolph says. "Britney Spears will be back and absolutely at the top of the entertainment industry very soon."
Credit: New York Post