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loyalty

Working for a celeb isn't a job, but a life- style -- and a demanding one at that. Most stars have dozens of staff who perform various tasks and functions, but when "no" is simply not an answer, the most fitting job title is probably "executive doormat".

The celebrity minion can look forward to keeping diamond-encrusted iPhones aloft while their boss enjoys a pedicure and brandishing the pooper scooper when employer and prized pooch hit the park.

The work is 24/7, though the pay can sometimes reflect a nine-to-five. There is no human resources department to advise on their rights. Put simply: the future of the celebrity employee looks bleak should they decide to hand in their resignation. In most cases, they are left with a bad taste in their mouth and not a penny in their pocket.

They leave with one valuable asset, though: insider information, and a few seek revenge and recompense by selling out on their ex-employer when their contract is terminated.

A string of Lady Gaga's former employees recently learned that the pen is mightier than the sword when they contributed to the soon-to-be-released biography, Poker Face: The Rise and Rise of Lady Gaga.

The author, Maureen Callahan, enlisted many of the diva's former staff to dish the dirt on their ex-boss.

Among the deep throats was Angela Ciemny, her one-time personal assistant and the wife of her tour manager, David, who describes the singer as needy and insecure.

Angela says she was reluctant to work for the diva and wanted her husband off the tour as they were hoping to conceive.

"She said, 'Angela, if you come on tour with me, I'll let you sleep with David so you can get pregnant'. And she would tell me, every night, 'OK, Ange, you and Dave can go in the back of the bus from 10 o'clock to midnight'."

Considering their former boss planned their lovemaking diary, it's easy to understand why the Ciemnys were happy to betray Lady Gaga's trust when Callahan came calling.

What stands out about this book is that the quotes are attributed. In most circumstances, celebrity employees are forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which prevents them from discussing their former boss' private life.

It's unknown if the former staff provided the quotes in return for financial compensation, but even if they did, it's unlikely the payment would cover the legal fees should Lady Gaga file for breach of contract.

Perhaps Lady Gaga didn't ask her staff to sign on the dotted line. If Angela's husband's claims that the singer sacked 150 staff within 18 months are true, one can only assume that she never got around to producing the essential contracts.

These days, most celebrities insist that their staff sign ironclad non-disclosure agreements. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are known for being hyper-cautious about contracts.

When the couple became aware that their former bodyguard, Mickey Brett, was pitching a proposal for a memoir and TV show about working for them and other celebrities such as Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, they called in the libel lawyers.

The couple's American litigator, Marty Singer, insisted that Brett wasn't a reliable source and that he was bound by a confidentiality agreement.

Madonna also called in a crack team of lawyers when her one-time nanny, Melissa Dumas, tried to sell a book chronicling her life working for the Queen of Pop.

The salacious Live to Tell: My Life as Madonna's Nanny, promised to reveal all about the singer's autocratic parenting style and strict rules and dietary regimes. Crown Publishing expressed interest but pulled out when the diva's legal team threatened action. "I deeply regret that Crown Publishing decided not to move forward in publishing Melissa Dumas' book," said Sharlene Martin of Martin Literary Management.

Incidentally, Martin was also involved in the scathing tell-all book, You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again by Suzanne Hansen. The book is a personal account of the nanny's days working for mogul Michael Ovitz, co-founder of Creative Artists Agency, considered by many to be the most powerful man in Hollywood. Because the book was penned in an era when non-disclosure agreements weren't the norm, it provided a rare glimpse at the lives of the Hollywood elite.

Still, even today, some celebrities disregard the vital document. One can only assume this was the case for Britney Spears who, during her breakdown, had many former employees dishing the dirt on her.

Spears, who is being sued by a former bodyguard for sexual harassment, had a habit of mixing work and play and made the costly mistake of befriending many of her staff and assuming their trust and loyalty. Kalie Machado was Spears' personal assistant for three months in 2007 and was at the singer's side during her meltdown. As soon as Machado stopped working for Spears, she sold her story to magazine Us Weekly. She revealed that Spears was devastated when Kevin Federline left her and concluded that her one-time boss needed "mental help".

In the same year, Spears met Sam Lutfi in a nightclub. A few months later Lutfi was calling himself her manager. When he was frozen out of her circle and refused any payment for his stint as her manager the following year, he sought to sell his story. Again, Us Weekly took the bait.



loopholes

He described his supposed friend as suffering from Jekyll and Hyde syndrome. "The British accent is part of the mania," he explained. "She'll stick to the British accent because she becomes comfortable with it . . . But you know when the pink wig comes on, it's getting bad."

Were Spears more vigilant, her former staff would have been prevented from selling their stories.

Of course, there are always loopholes. Even if a former celebrity employee can't sell their story, they can capitalise on their experience with a sly wink and a nudge. These days, the bookshelves are heaving with thinly veiled 'fictional' accounts by former celebrity employees. Think of Lauren Weisberger's The Devil Wears Prada, based on the draconian woman at the helm of the fictitious Runway magazine. Of course, everybody knows that Weisberger once worked under Anna Wintour at Vogue.

Likewise, Chorewhore: Adventures of a Celebrity Assistant, is the fictional account of Corki Brown, a 40-year-old woman with a 10-year-old son, who is the assistant to one of Hollywood's top stars.

Its author, Heather H Howard, worked as an assistant to the likes of Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Aniston and, at the time of writing, also had a 10-year-old son.

Books such as these augur badly for the celebrity as non-disclosure agreements are worthless should the former employee turn 'fiction' author. The only solution is not to give them anything to write about, but that seems unlikely . . .


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