All the Right Moves: The Playbook
Even the longest journey back from ruin begins with a single media-savvy step: the public admission. But it can take many forms.


Clockwise from top left: Hugh Grant, Chris Brown, Charlie Sheen, Mark Sanford, Alec Baldwin, Kanye West, Pee-wee Herman.

The Play: Talk to Oprah
Sitting down post-scandal with the grande dame of talk sends a strong statement: "This person is in a deep, dark, unspinnable place and is ready to tell the truth and be held accountable," says Christopher Lehane, a partner at the strategic-communications firm Fabiani & Lehane.
Well-played: Kim Kardashian gabbed with Oprah in 2012 after getting hammered in the press for being (gasp) a publicity whore in the wake of her marriage to Kris Humphries ending—after 72 days.
Misplayed: Arrogant doper Lance Armstrong didn't do himself any favors during his January interview by refusing to show an ounce of contrition.

• • •
LADIES AND THE TRAMPS
How the other halves of famous scandals made out.
1. Monica Lewinsky
The infamous former intern's gigs have included handbag designer, reality-dating-show host, and Jenny Craig shill.
2. Oksana Grigorieva
Unhinged actor-director Mel Gibson's Russian-singer ex has been working with charities for disabled children.
3. Ashley Dupré
Eliot Spitzer's former call girl has posed for Playboy, written an advice column for the New York Post, and competed on VH1's Famous Food.
4. Rielle Hunter
John Edwards' mistress and baby mama went on to tantalize tabloids with a tell-all memoir about their affair in 2012.
5. Sydney Leathers
Leathers (yes, it's her real name) quickly capitalized on the sexting scandal with a porno appropriately titled Weiner and Me.
6. Lennay Kekua
Manti Te'o's cybergirlfriend was the creation of a hoaxer (the photo was of an unsuspecting woman named Diane O'Meara), but she still came in at No. 69 on Maxim's 2013 Hot 100 List.
7. Divine Brown
After servicing Hugh Grant in 1995, she bought a house near Beverly Hills with her earnings from the publicity.
• • •

The Play: Hold a Press Conference
Public figures use this format to admit to wrongdoing, walk back from a scandal (if they can), or clarify the details. "Part of penance is going through the pain of being asked tough questions," Lehane says.
Well-played: Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford delivered a rambling but teary admission about his extramarital fling with an Argentine woman in 2009. And Tiger Woods addressed his sex scandal with a Terminator-like public apology in 2010 but has slowly climbed back to the top of the golf world.
Misplayed: When Anthony Weiner held a hastily scheduled press conference after the release of a new round of lewd photos and explicit texts, he made the rookie mistake of not being ready for the obvious questions from a salivating press corps.

The Play: Hit the Morning Shows
They are certainly not places for hard news, but a friendly chat while the world is still caffeinating is "a good forum for public figures dealing with a perception that is impacting their Q rating or box-office appeal," Lehane says.
Well-played: Six months after being fired from Two and a Half Men, tiger-blood-loving Charlie Sheen visited Today to atone for his 2011 meltdown: "I think it's important that people see that was just one crazy chapter."
Misplayed: In 2011, when Good Morning America's Robin Roberts asked Chris Brown about the two-year-old incident with his girlfriend Rihanna, the R&B singer flew into a rage, stormed off the set, and trashed a dressing room.

The Play: Swing By the Late Shows
If you deserve a public flogging and can take the abuse with the help of a little humor, sitting next to a late-night desk is less like being on trial and more like hiding in greasepaint.
Well-played: It has become the blueprint for owning up to a borderline-reprehensible offense: After being arrested for soliciting a prostitute in 1995, Hugh Grant chose Leno's show to deliver his mea culpa, "I did a bad thing." Kanye West choked back tears after Jay Leno asked him what his late mother would have said about his interrupting Taylor Swift during her MTV Video Music Awards speech.
Misplayed: A late show is really not the venue to atone for a racist rant, as Michael Richards learned the hard way when he appeared on Letterman in 2006—via satellite, no less.

The Play: Poke Fun at Yourself
It's ingrained in our nature: You screw up, you turn it into a joke. "Even when you're a child, it's the whole idea of 'It wasn't me—the dog did it!'" says comedy writer Bruce Vilanch, who's penned one-liners for the Emmys, the Oscars, the Grammys, and the Tonys.
Well-played: Vilanch got a chance to put the healing power of humor to the ultimate test by helping to write a joke for his pal Pee-wee Herman. In 1991, two months after getting arrested for indecent exposure, Herman opened the MTV Video Music Awards. "He came out and said, 'Heard any good jokes lately?'" Vilanch says. "It was just to say, 'Hey, I'm aware that I've been the butt of every single joke in the world.'" Just as effective: Tantrum-prone Alec Baldwin made fun of himself on Saturday Night Live after the Words With Friends scandal in 2011. "Coming on our show was his way of kind of squashing the situation and letting people get a glimpse of him as a person," says SNL's co–head writer Colin Jost.
Misplayed: The oft-lampooned Lindsay Lohan's guest-host gig on Chelsea Lately in August felt like too little, too late.

• • •

The Original Comeback Kid: Bill Clinton
Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner should have stolen notes from the master: No. 42, the man from Hope, William Jefferson Clinton. Despite an illicit affair with an intern and an embarrassing impeachment, Clinton left office with the highest approval rating of any president since World War II. There's much to learn from Bubba's road map to redemption, even from the potholes along the way.

November 1995: Clinton begins a sexual relationship with 22-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

January 1998: The Drudge Report breaks news of the scandal by reporting that Newsweek is sitting on the story of an affair. That same month, Clinton wags his finger in a press conference and famously states, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."

August 1998: After staying silent for more than six months, Clinton finally acknowledges the affair in a televised address. He takes responsibility but asks the country to basically back off: "Now, this matter is between me, the two people I love most—my wife and our daughter—and our God."

December 1998: Clinton becomes the second U.S. president to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

February 1999: Following the Senate's acquittal decision, Clinton addresses the nation: "I want to say again to the American people how profoundly sorry I am for what I said and did to trigger these events and the great burden they have imposed on the Congress and on the American people."

January 2000: Clinton goes on The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer to reflect on the impeachment process: "The thing I regret most—except for doing the wrong thing—is misleading the American people about it."

April 2000: Clinton delivers jokes at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, telling the press, "In just eight years, I've given you enough material for 20 years."

December 2000: During the last year of his presidency, the Congressional Budget Office reports a budget surplus of $236 billion. Clinton and Pope John Paul II tie as "most admired man" in Gallup's annual poll.

June 2004: Four years after he leaves office, Clinton's memoir, My Life, is published. During his media blitz, he appears on CBS' 60 Minutes and apologizes again for the affair but maintains that his impeachment was unwarranted: "The whole battle was a badge of honor. I don't see it as a stain, because it was illegitimate."

December 2005: After raising more than $100 million for Hurricane Katrina victims and leading relief efforts for the Indian Ocean tsunami devastation, Clinton and President George H.W. Bush are named ABC News' People of the Year.

February 2007: Clinton comes in fourth in a Gallup poll that asks people to name the greatest president of all time.

September 2012: Clinton delivers a 48-minute speech the second night of the 2012 Democratic National Convention for President Barack Obama that garners major kudos and media attention. On CNN, Wolf Blitzer says, "This may have been the best speech I have ever heard Bill Clinton deliver over all these years."

July 2013: The National Enquirer claims to have an audio sex tape of Clinton and Lewinsky, news that fails to attract interest from even Kenneth Starr.

• • •

John Galliano's Quest for Redemption
In the world of haute couture, outrageous behavior and outsize egos are par for the course, and it's all fun and games—until someone name-checks Hitler. And while the consensus was that Christian Dior designer John Galliano's shocking outburst in 2011 had rendered him irredeemable, the irrepressible designer has been engaged in a painstakingly penitent return over the past two years. Here is how he stitched himself together after his career fell apart.

February 2011:
D-day:
On February 24, 2011, the designer engages in a racist and anti-Semitic tirade during a verbal altercation after a night of drinking at the Paris restaurant La Perle. Galliano is arrested for assault and inciting racial hatred, a crime in France.

D-day Plus One: Galliano, who has been Dior's acclaimed creative director for 14 years, is suspended from the company.

D-day Plus Four: Camera-phone footage, taken at the same Paris restaurant, emerges showing the embattled designer delivering another racist rant, which includes proclamations such as "I love Hitler."

D-day Plus Five: After a swift and boisterous public outcry—even Natalie Portman condemns the designer, saying she is "deeply shocked and disgusted"—Dior turns the suspension into a dismissal.

March 2011
D-day Plus Six:
Galliano apologizes in a statement, saying, "I only have myself to blame, and I know that I must face up to my own failures." That day, he enters a program for substance abuse in Arizona.

June 2011:
D-day Plus Four Months:
At a one-day trial, the designer admits to long-term abuse of drugs and alcohol and appears contrite. He is later found guilty of "public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race, or ethnicity" but receives no jail time.

July 2011:
D-day Plus Five Months:
In a show of solidarity, longtime friend Kate Moss unveils her Galliano-designed wedding gown—made during the "creative rehab" part of his actual rehab.

January 2012
D-day Plus One Year:
With the help of Condé Nast International CEO Jonathan Newhouse, Galliano spends the next year and a half meeting with European Jewish leaders, attending services, and studying books about Jewish history and the Holocaust.

January 2013
D-day Plus Two Years:
Galliano toes the fashion waters, spending three weeks as an artist in residence at the studio of Oscar de la Renta.

June 2013
D-day Plus Two Years, Four Months:
Galliano appears on Charlie Rose and reveals that because of his drug addiction, he doesn't even remember the incident. "I hope that through my atonement I will be given a second chance," he says. In Vanity Fair, writer and Galliano acquaintance Ingrid Sischy paints a picture of a remorseful designer who made an out-of-character mistake. Galliano tells her that he was so "discontent with myself that I just said the most spiteful thing I could. . . . I am so grateful for what did happen. I have learned so much about myself. . . . I am alive." And so is his reputation.

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