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The Art of the Apology




Another day, another scandal. First of all, don’t forget that a crisis is different than a scandal. A crisis can be fixed often without anybody knowing much, while a scandal lingers and needs full-blown image control, damage control and a solid moving forward plan at the very least.

This week we have singer Ariana Grande and ‘DONUTGATE’!

And we also have our old “Racist Paula Dean back for more. Add these to the ongoing Bill Cosby issues and of course Brian Williams and others and you see what I mean- Where are the SINCERE APOLOGIES???

And that will of course bring us back to none other than Reality Infamy hall of famer Teresa Giudice. Yes, I worked with Giudice for over a year night and day, and we see now none of the apologies I helped her compose meant anything. Except they did earn her a very light sentence and her Juicy Husband a staggered surrender which is rarely done. Nice job if I do say so myself. Yet- really not as that time and energy could have been used to help somebody who really wanted to show humility and change.

Let’s start with last week and Ariana Grande. Oh even her name is grandiose isn’t it!? What looks to be silly and a childish prank, turns into a major ordeal now being investigated by the cops and other agencies. That is actually fair, as turnabout is fair play, and if the donut shop owner was not trying to exploit Grande, no one of would know about this. Yet he did sell the tape and now guess what? The owner is in trouble for health code violations- Poetic Justice to be sure!!!

But for Ariana Grande this has now turned serious. SO she licked some donuts. Yes, that may be disgusting and arrogant, but it is her anti American comments and FAT SHAMING that has people upset. And then of course her “APOLOGY’- a total dismal disaster from somebody old enough to care, but young enough to do this. She definitely needs some crisis management help before this turns into a scandal. Ms. Grande needs to apologize on a platform her fans relate to and do it with sincerity and humility and she needs to do this NOW.

As for the lovely Paula Dean– this now crosses her over into Infamy I am afraid. After all, she was in trouble for saying and then DENYING she said the N Word. Now old photos are tweeted of her son in Brown Face! Yes, these were tweeted by her social media person, but Ms. Dean- the buck always stops at the top at that would be YOU. Had YOU apologized with any sincerity the first time, this would not be so difficult. But you did not. You read a script aka teleprompter on The Today show of course, and it had no depth. No feeling, no honesty. I am sure she is sorry, but sorry she was busted. I did not feel her sorry in her soul for saying things that many of us have said. The apology was worse than the action. The lie is worse than the event. Just like always.

Brian Williams also recently apologized on the Today show- that apology fell flat also- WHY???? Because there again was no depth and no real emotion. It was forced, and I am sure it really was in many ways. An apology needs to be real, and emotive and is very telling. We have not really heard an apology from Cosby and at this point there is NO point for him to do so. It should not matter and it would not be real. Plus, he may harm himself in a way that is not obvious yet. So, Cosby gets a pass. Not because he does not owe one, but because he has no vehicle in which to do so, so many issues have harmed so many and he is OLD. But, I would ask- Bill, have you apologized to victim number ONE- your wife???? That he should do and the remaining children for ruining their legacy and dragging them all through the slop. That would also make him more appealing even just slightly, and if he were my client I would try to get him to do just this. I will not hold my breath!

I help people with the ART OF THE APOLOGY everyday. Sometimes it is before a judge and sometimes it is to build a bridge with a family member. An apology is not something you tweet or put on social media. It must be something you feel deep inside. Sometimes I get clients to feel the apology by thinking of how their circumstance has harmed their loved ones. Then I ask- do you wish to be forgiven- the answer is always YES- MY question then becomes HAVE YOU FORGIVEN YOURSELF?

That is where I get interesting responses and can start working on what I call THE ART OF THE APOLOGY- this is a process and one we need not forget or brush off. It is indicative of how you live your life and what you expect from yourself and others. SO many people expect others to behave one way and yet hey behave another. What is so hard about an apology? Well many things- first it makes one admit they are not above others, and also an apology makes one accountable. Things that are very difficult for many and more so for celebrities who surround themselves with enablers.

But it is simple- we are a very forgiving society, but we do need meaningful apologies and then move on. That simple, say it, mean it, do it and MOVE ON…

Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande


Wendy Feldman is a family legal coach, crisis manager and a well known expert on alternative sentencing. She is available for private consultation on how to navigate the many aspects of our legal system. She is also well known as a media manager and helps clients get their stories out while making the client relatable and human. She is also available for media commentary and has appeared on shows such as Today, CBS Early Show, Nightline, Fox News ABC News, She is a regular on the CBS entertainment shows The Insider and Entertainment Tonight and Inside Edition. Wendy is featured in the hit series on E! Secret Societies of Hollywood. She is a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal, Slate, BBC, NPR, People, US, People, New York Post,Page Six, Los Angeles Times, The Wrap and many others.  She may be reached at



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July 13, 2015 · 1:53 PM

Can money buy you FREEDOM???


I am always asked this very question. In fact, I am featured on a special on E!  Entertainment Thursday October 24 about this very issue called Secret Societies of Hollywood.Heidi Fleiss

The answer is very simple- NO. Money does make access to key talent and legal professionals easier however. But far too often these “pros” are simply not worth the money they are paid and actually make the issue worse in the long run. I always tell clients a lawyer’s job is to get them off the hook, and my job is to keep them on the right track. But none of can buy our way out of a legal mess.

This is 2013 and the old tricks simply do not work. Yes, jails and prisons are overcrowded, but that alone is not enough to keep people out of them. I strive to present to judges a road map to an alternative sentence that makes sense to everybody. The defendant, the system and society, but far too often others make this process way to complicated and people get off the hook in one case and pick up another. This is why I coined the word Incarcervention. Simply a legal intervention for people who may have some elements of criminal thinking and who keep breaking the law in one way or another. Celebrities often do this because they have giant entitlement issues and really do think that money can buy freedom. It just aint so.

Currently, there are several cases in the news that would be perfect for an alternative sentence like Cee Lo Green, Heidi Fleiss, Lamar Odum and others. In those cases the money can help bring about freedom if a person has the money to go to treatment. But in the end change and true freedom is up to the person in trouble.

As I always say, change is possible but it takes real work and honesty.


Wendy Feldman is a criminal justice expert, crisis manager and family legal coach. She is the leading expert on Alternative Sentencing. She is also head of the Alternative Sentencing Program at Cliffside Malibu. She is available for private consultation on how to prepare for a successful incarceration, probation and re-entry. She is also available for media commentary and has appeared in the media on The Today Show, The CBS Early Show, E! News,, Fox News, NBC News, BBC, CNN, NPR Slate, Wall Street Journal, Discovery Network and others.  She may be reached at

Follow @thewendyfeldman


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October 22, 2013 · 8:46 PM