Post-Defeat, Susan Boyle Checks Into Hospital

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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, June 2, 2009; 12:00 AM

Susan Boyle, despite her defeat on "Britain's Got Talent," continues to dominate the headlines. Sadly, it's not for the reasons she had hoped.

Yesterday, she was resting in a mental hospital surrounded by news crews, and the British prime minister gave a televised interview to say he'd checked in on her.

Police took the Internet singing sensation to the private Priory clinic Sunday night after she suffered an emotional breakdown -- just 24 hours after Saturday's finale. Producers issued a statement saying she was "exhausted and emotionally drained." One of the show judges, Piers Morgan, wrote on his blog yesterday that Boyle "told me she'd spent most of the week crying, throwing up, not sleeping and generally feeling the weight of the world's pressures on her."

According to British media reports, police were called about 6 p.m. on Sunday to a London hotel where doctors were "assessing a woman under the Mental Health Act." The woman was taken by ambulance to the Priory, a clinic in north London known for its celebrity clientele.

Yesterday, PM Gordon Brown said he had called judges Simon Cowell and Morgan to "be sure that she was okay." Boyle's brother, Gerry, told the Edinburgh Evening News he spoke to his sister just before she was admitted. "First and foremost we have to make sure she is happy, and she is -- she wouldn't change all this for the world. . . . But she will bounce back."

The hospitalization is the latest twist in the dramatic saga of the 48-year-old Scot, who shot to white-hot fame in April after her surprise rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream," one of the most viewed Internet videos of all time. Boyle attracted nonstop interest from the British media since her initial appearance -- the kind of hype normally reserved for the Queen or Michelle Obama, reports our colleague Karla Adam. The frumpy church volunteer was celebrated, besieged and accused of meltdowns and temper tantrums.

"You've had a weird seven weeks," Cowell told her after Saturday's performance. He said a lot of people thought she "shouldn't even be in this competition, that you're not equipped to deal with it. . . . I completely disagree with that." Cowell said he'd gotten to know the "real Susan" -- not the person portrayed in the media -- who is "still a very nice shy person who just wants a break."

The runaway favorite to win came in second to Diversity, a group of 11 street dancers, including three sets of brothers. Bookies had the boys at 16-1 odds, but they may have benefited from telephone voters who thought Boyle was a shoo-in. Or maybe Boylemania peaked too soon: The Brits like underdogs (one of the reasons why she was so popular in the first place), but by the finale, Boyle was one of the most famous women in the world.

"Never in our fast-changing history, until Susan Boyle, have we managed to quite so swiftly canonize and then pillory another human being, for our own titillation," the Observer wrote.

Boyle appeared to be a magnanimous loser, saying "the best people won." The tabloids, however, reported a darker face of defeat, saying she stormed down a corridor and screamed: "I hate this show!" By the next night, she was acting so erratically that police were called to her hotel.

This development may be a blessing, says cultural critic Cintra Wilson. The author of "A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Reexamined as a Grotesque, Crippling Disease and Other Cultural Revelations" argues that Boyle's breakdown is actually "the healthiest possible response to this kind of stimuli. Any person whose sanity is worth a grain of salt will crack. This is the normal response. You cannot do that and not suffer. That's exactly what she should be doing."

Boyle's scheduled tours in Britain and the United States are on hold, as are the millions she stands to earn from albums and a possible book and television biopic about her extraordinary rise. One commentator on the Times of London Web site urged her to return to her pre-fame life: "Susan, go back to your pussycat for Heaven's sake. Who needs all this?"


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