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They were told what to say, almost word for word. I know Jen feared that if she refused to do this, she would not meet Ariana though she was not told that.
After the bogus interview, Ariana was set to appear. First, she did an on-camera interview. She then approached her fans without a smile — just an icy look as she toyed with her hair. She was surrounded by 8 to 10 assistants. Ariana stood by, with a blank stare, as the rules came fast and furiously from a staffer: Give them to security and they will get them to her.
You can take a selfie with her, but nothing else. The 16 year old boy had recorded a CD of beautiful violin cover versions of Ariana songs. It won the contest for him, and he wanted to present it to her.
It was taken away by security. Ariana Grande, the superstar, then walked toward her three contest-winning fans. She spent perhaps 15 seconds with each of them.
That is not an exaggeration. They took an approved photo with her and that was it. Ariana gave that grin for each picture, but then it was gone again. She never bothered to even ask anyone their name. No peace sign from Ari this time. Then Jen took out one of the drawings that won the contest for her.
Kelly snapped a photo of her smiling little sister giving Ariana the drawing. The MTV reps on scene seemed startled, but at a loss for what to do.
They were seated three rows from the back of the top balcony, possibly closer to the sun than the stage. I had told them to expect that, though. The fact that one of the winners was somehow awarded better seats than the others, seated among industry insiders, and given wristbands for he and his guest for free food and drink during the show is a mystery that was not specified as a prize, and was likely just another MTV oversight — along with letting all the contest winners out of the car that brought them to the show in a Sizzler parking lot several blocks from the Forum.
They were told to hoof it to that same lot after the show, in their new outfits and shoes. Do you think that MTV might have offered to place the winners up close in the pit in front of the stage with hundreds of radio contest winners?
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You know, to make up for the terrible meeting experience? Polite texts were sent to several MTV reps, and tweets to both Ariana and her mother, desperately asking for something to be done. Some type of re-do, or perhaps a meet n greet with some other, more fan-friendly, celebrity.
It is understood that this was a meet n greet. Jen and Kelly have encountered many celebrities, just passing on the street, that have spent more time with them than Ariana did with her contest winners. Every one of them kind and engaging. She asked Jen questions about herself and chatted about a variety of things. Jen tried to move along to give time to other fans, but Jennette actually called her back to talk more about her artwork.
Same with Miranda Cosgrove — a complete sweetheart.
InJen and Kel received an opportunity to meet a superstar even more famous than Ariana Grande. They met Britney Spears. Wanna know how that went? Then Britney invited my wife and me to come in as well. We all took a bunch of pictures, from any angle, while Britney chatted with the girls, looked through pics of their memorabilia, happily personally accepted a gift bag they had brought for her, answered any questions they had, gave them each a signed copy of her CD which was released that dayand personally made sure that Jen and Kel could watch the live taping of TRL in the studio, even though they were both too young according to MTV policy.
Neither Britney, or any member of her staff, ever asked to see any of the pictures we took.
That is a true superstar who loves her fans. We did not expect Ms.
Grande to be as gracious as Britney, but 15 seconds and a silent walk-off? We expected that Ryan would be there for an hour, maybe two, and that would be fine. They wanted to stay longer but I insisted that they had done more than enough and I was actually embarrassed at their kindness. We met the entire cast after the show. They were all amazing and friendly. Ryan Ochoa and his family have become our friends now. We see them whenever they are in Vegas, and sometimes when we are in L.
Grande to become friends with any of the contest winners, or to spend eight hours with them, or give them any type of tickets for anything. Some might say she was having a bad day. But what about the day after, and the day after that? The fans were all still in Hollywood, awaiting the VMAs. All involved knew that very well. Could Ariana have met them again?
Karen Payne, mother of Liam, resorts to looking wistfully at photos of the band at their gig in Madison Square Garden, New York, and then she and some of the other mums are even filmed buying cardboard cut outs of their sons to remember them by. If I have this I can still see him every day," says Karen. Meanwhile Liam's father Geoff is shown close to tears, saying how much he misses his year-old son and how he feels he has lost out on sharing "rites of passage" with him.
No one is suggesting of course that at the first whiff of fame these five boys have callously forgotten all about the parents who raised them. Rather their long absences from home seem to demonstrate the all-consuming nature of being a pop star in this day and age where record companies require you to be at their constant beck and call and where you must capitalise on your fame with constant promoting, tours and appearances or risk it all crashing down around you.
It is a fact on which Louis' mother Jay commented last year, saying: Louis has only been home for a matter of days since The X Factor. He's always so happy when I see him and happy to have me home. To actually see what he's like when I'm not there was a bit mad. I think a lot of families anticipate that once you get to 18 you'll go to university and mothers know that that's the day, whereas for us it kind of just happened out of the blue and our mums just had to wave goodbye to us on The X Factor.
It was a lot for them to take in. The others are either 19 or 20 and were just 16 or 17 when they were swept up by The X Factor juggernaut. For all the boys their rapid rise to fame has precipitated a huge lifestyle change. Harry in particular had a comfortable upbringing in rural Cheshire, describing his home town of Holmes Chapel as "quite picturesque but quite boring". His parents Anne and Des divorced when he was seven and Anne, who remarried in June this year, has previously admitted that she "fills up every time Harry's on TV.
I feel incredibly proud". She split from Louis' father Troy when he was young and Louis took his stepfather Mark Tomlinson's surname. The couple divorced last year and in the wake of the split it became obvious that Jay missed her only son terribly and revealed she kept in touch by sending him up to seven texts a day. Liam grew up in the West Midlands and his nursery nurse mother Karen and his father Geoff, a fitter, continue to live in Wolverhampton with Liam's sisters Ruth and Nicola.