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Thursday, 9 April, 1998, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
You got to have faith
George Michael
Should he stay out of the limelight?
For singer George Michael, being arrested for lewd conduct in a Los Angeles public toilet must have been his worst nightmare. The intensely private star has gone to great lengths to keep his private life exactly that - private.

Perfectly private - if possible
Perfectly private - if possible
Since his arrest, George Michael has continued to avoid the public. On Wednesday, he took refuge in celebrity record producer David Geffen's California mansion. Now, it is rumoured he may have left the United States altogether.

But the experience of other well-known figures who have attracted publicity for the wrong reasons warns that turning his back on the press and his fans may not be George Michael's best strategy for beating the heat.

Celebrity success stories

The public rest room where the arrest took place
The public rest room where the arrest took place
Take Hugh Grant. When the school-boyish English actor was arrested in June 1995 for picking up a Hollywood prostitute, many suspected that at 34 his career was over.

But Grant may have had the last laugh.

After the incident, he began a public period of atonement, speaking out on US talk shows and news programmes to say how sorry he was.

On CNN's Larry King, he admitted that his behaviour was "disloyal, shabby and goatish." On NBC's Today he pleaded for the privacy of his girlfriend, supermodel, Elizabeth Hurley.

"They can go on hounding me, I supposed as much as they like," he said. "But they should damn well leave her alone."

He went on to star in films such as Sense and Sensibility, Nine Months and The Englishman who went up a hill and came down a mountain.

Diana, Princess of Wales, earned public admiration after admitting her vulnerabilities in a dramatic interview on the BBC's Panorama programme.

Her admission that her marriage had fallen apart won her sympathy throughout the world. In what many called a public relations coup, her confession made her more "human" to the public, which felt it could identify with her as a person.

Rider of the storm

So is confessing all the star's best option?

Michael: Very sexual public personal
Michael: the public image
"In my view, he should come out now and be explaining about the dreadful time he's had in recent times," said Max Clifford a publicist who works with British stars, referring to the recent death of the star's mother and Anselmo Feleppa, a close friend. "He should tell them how personal losses have devastated him and his life."

But others disagree. They say that despite the salaciousness of the story, the fervour will soon die down.

"It's really about the music," Bruce Harring, a music critic. "If he made a hit record, it would get the same airtime it would normally get."

See also:

09 Apr 98 | World
George Michael goes to ground
09 Apr 98 | UK
The rise of a pop genius
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