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The ups and downs of SuBo's 15-plus minutes of fame

Who could have foreseen when Susan Boyle first auditioned for Britain's Got Talent, the glamour- challenged singer's trip would take her from overnight Internet sensation to leading candidate for a musical revival of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in just seven weeks. • After the disappointing finish in the TV talent show — she finished second to an all-male dance troupe — SuBo is dealing with the shock and exhaustion like a real star: She was voluntarily checked into a mental health clinic on Sunday. • Let's take time to review her 15-plus minutes of fame.

Compiled by Steve Spears, Times Staff Writer

THE HUMBLE START: Not since portly Paul Potts won Britain's Got Talent in 2007 has the world seen such immense talent discreetly wrapped so plainly. But on April 11, in front of about 10 million viewers, the 48-year-old from Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland, dazzled everyone with I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables.

A WEB WONDER: SuBo's TV performance became an overnight sensation on video Web sites like YouTube. As of May 20, it had been viewed online more than 220 million times.

MAKEOVER MADNESS: Though embraced for her frumpy look, Boyle opted for a makeover on April 24, donning designer clothes and replacing her graying, frizzy hair with a dye job and more stylish cut. Her popularity slid as fans voiced dismay (Hey, at least she avoided the "chest enhancements" that Bikini Girl was showing off on American Idol's finale.)

POP CULTURE CROWNING: Though she doesn't get the ultimate honor of appearing as a character — hey, she's no Steve Guttenberg after all — Homer declared during an episode of The Simpsons that his "dream is to be a great singer like Susan Boyle." (Don't get too excited. His other big dream was eating the world's largest hoagie.) She was also referenced in a South Park episode. SuBo's rebound begins.

THE OPRAH MOMENT: Forget missing her chance to perform in front of the queen, Boyle trumped that by appearing via satellite on The Oprah Winfrey Show in mid May. Subtitles are added for the benefit of American viewers whose only previous exposure to Scottish accents was from Mike Myers movies.

THE BACKLASH: After a cracking performance of Memories in BGT's semifinals on May 24 and a profanity-laden run-in with fans in a hotel lobby, SuBo fever is fading fast.

THE FINALE: "The best people won. That's showbiz," SuBo says after finishing second to a dance troupe in Saturday's finale of the show. The next day, she checks into London's Priory Clinic for treatment of exhaustion. The show's producers, talkbalkThames, says the singer was "exhausted and emotionally drained," and was taking a few days off.

THE COMEBACK?: Our advice: Being notoriously publicity-shy has worked wonders for difficult diva Barbra Streisand. A show-tunes album could make her the UK's answer to Ethel Merman.

Sources: Playbill, Telegraph, Associated Press, Daily Mail, Los Angeles Times.

The ups and downs of SuBo's 15-plus minutes of fame 06/01/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 1, 2009 8:00pm]

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