backlash

Chely Wright Is Out 2 Days Ahead of Schedule. Which Means Everyone’s Pissed at Publicist Howard Bragman

“There had never, ever been a country music artist who had acknowledged his or her homosexuality,” Chely Wright tells People. “I wasn’t going to be the first.” Hey, that’s great news! Wright is now out, ahead of her May 5 super secret unveiling, with an article up on People.com — spurned, undoubtedly, by Queerty‘s revealing her identity ahead of publicist Howard Bragman’s planned debut. On Wednesday, she’s expected to appear on The View and the Today show (we’ve also heard Larry King Live), bookings that were originally made without producers even knowing who their guest was going to be. Because this was supposed to be a big reveal, with all the talk shows basking in the ratings spike that would come from scoring the first round of interviews with America’s new gaylebrity. Except now that Bragman has given People the okay Now that People has run with the story two days ahead of time, these shows have suddenly lost their momentum.

They can no longer plug a “big reveal”; the story is already out there.

Here’s what we know: After TMZ lifted Queerty‘s item yesterday, People — which was supposed to be the print and online exclusive outlet for the story — reneged on its agreed-to embargo and went live with the story, refusing to let their competitor (and corporate sister) TMZ get the scoop. Bragman did not give People the go-ahead. The move then cued The Advocate, which had a pre-arranged interview with Wright, to go live with their story, and Access Hollywood to also push out its story (though it’ll still wait until Wednesday night to run its pre-taped interview).

At risk, however, is the biggest get: The Today‘s show’s sit-down with Wright, which is Bragman’s highest priority. TMZ and People both moving ahead with the story puts the Today opportunity in jeopardy. Not that Today did a decent job of hiding the secret: Among the few parties privy to Wright’s identity beforehand, Today screwed the pooch and released Wright’s name in its television listings blast to TV Guide, TiVo, and your local cable company. Indeed, anyone looking for who was going to be Wednesday’s guest on Today could’ve figured out Wright’s name literally with the click of a button.

You can imagine producers, then, are furious with Bragman. By playing along with the unidentified coming out, Bragman promised all of these shows (and People) they would also benefit, just like his client, by this long-awaited, much-buzzed-about story. Instead, 48 hours from now when Meredith Vieira or whoever sits down with Wright, the story will already be old news. Not for everybody — some people still do not read blogs, Facebook, Twitter, or their sons’ private emails — but for many. Instead of absolutely having to tune in to Today to see who’s newly out, plenty of folks will be content waiting for the YouTube clip to arrive on Dlisted.

Sure, even we will still tune in for Wright’s interviews, because that’s our job, and we’re curious to see how this barely-a-celebrity breaches the B-list with her newfound fame. But how anti-climactic.

Which is an interesting place to be: Pleased that another person of mild fame is out of the closet, but frustrated that the person who orchestrated it broke promises to keep it a secret to everyone until May 5. But hey, it’s the world we live in.

Is Bragman going to lose business from closeted gay celebs? Of course not. But you can expect media outlets will be less willing moving forward to participate in his game.

One that’s still going to sit down with Wright? Ben & Dave’s Six Pack, which is still taking questions from listeners.