You don’t sack Max
Celebrity Big Brother winner Chantelle’s decision to drop Max Clifford looks naive, especially as he’s a master at keeping bad news out of the tabloids
Last week, as Chantelle was being crowned the new queen of instant celebrity, Max Clifford remarked: “With a little bit of careful handling, good luck and a fair wind, I could extend her 10 minutes of fame to 15 or 20.”
But it seems that Chantelle – who delighted in telling her housemates how she wasnít interested in “knowledge” – wasn’t listening.
Just as the clock began ticking towards her first million, she’s made a mistake that could cut her 10 minutes of fame down to five. She’s chosen to break her arrangement with Max.
Let’s not forget that Clifford is a brand. He has no truck with long and detailed contracts that keep minor showbiz lawyers in pin money. He doesn’t need contracts and he doesn’t have to find work; he’s the master of turning a scandal into a nest egg.
Max famously holds back scandals about notable celebrities, ready to be harvested at a time that he – and they – find most useful.
Max is a master of keeping bad news OUT of the papers – simply by offering better stories to take their place.
The naivety of the Houghton camp is breathtaking. Perhaps they should consider why the tabloids gave the girl from Wickford such an easy ride and why Celebrity Big Brother fans didn’t see any lurid tales in the tabloids while she was getting close with the Ordinary Boy. With the Clifford office working behind the scenes, Chantelle profited from this free labour. But ultimately what price will she pay?
It’s understandable that an Essex shop girl might not know the rules of celebrity but surely someone could have told her that nobody “sacks” Max. Not if they know what’s good for them. After all, true success is a long game, as the wily old Clifford is only to keen to promote.
What happened is this: while Chantelle was incarcerated with George and Pete and Preston and co, her mum Vivian went to Max to set up some deals for her upon her release.
Max responded by getting her all sorts of great exposure from an OK! photo shoot, TV appearances, dinner with his client Simon Cowell and a rumoured American TV series.
So what did Chantelle do when she got out of the house? Perhaps mistaking a moment in the limelight for a whole career, she decided to ditch Max and sign up instead with TV presenters’ agent John Noel.
My reaction is much the same as Chantelle’s when the doors finally opened: “Ohmygod!”
It’s not that she’s made a bad decision to go with John Noel, who helped turn Jade Goody into the most successful Big Brother contender of all, and whose clients also include Davina McCall (coincidence?) but that she’s stitched up Max.
There’s nothing illegal about what she’s done – Clifford famously works without contracts – but it’s far from wise. Because even an Essex girl must know that anyone who’s got any dirt on anyone goes to Max Clifford. As many in showbiz land know Mr C has a very long memory and is often seen eating dishes that are stone cold.
If she’s got any skeletons in her cupboard (and she’d better not!) the photos are bound to end up on his desk. And from there, it’s a very short step indeed to the picture desk of every red-top in town.
Of course not even Max could have predicted that Chantelle would win the show, but you don’t have to be the winner to become the biggest success. Just ask Jade Goody (who didn’t win). Or Cameron Stout (who did).