Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s “negativity” could cause them to face a Hollywood freeze-out as executives refuse to work with them, both royal and Tinseltown insiders have warned.
In an exclusive interview, former BBC Royal Correspondent Michael Cole said: “Americans have grown weary of them for bringing nothing but negativity to everything they touch.
“Over the past year, they have achieved little more than alienating themselves from the US public and the powerful media companies that employ them – as well as driving an even bigger wedge between themselves and the Royal Family.”
His comments come in the wake of recent opinion polls that show Prince William and Princess Kate are far and away more popular on both sides of the Atlantic – and follow Harry and Meghan being named among “Hollywood’s biggest losers” of 2023.
That stinging title was bestowed on them by the widely respected “industry bible” the Hollywood Reporter, which excoriated them for their “whiny” Netflix documentary series, Harry’s “whiny” biography Spare and their “inert” podcast Archetypes, which ended with them being fired by Spotify and branded “****ing grifters” by one of the audio giant’s bosses.
PR guru and crisis management specialist Mark Borkowski declared: “Showbusiness is attracted to success and financial gains. Turkeys are only acceptable for Thanksgiving. There’s speculation that the industry might be growing weary of their presence.”
He added: “Something is beginning to unwind at the heart of Meghan and Harry,” and predicted: “I think 2024 is going to be seismic, either because they are going to do something to recover and find a new positive tactic – or it’s going to be the undoing of the brand. It can only go one of two ways. It can’t stay where it is at the moment – because it’s clearly not working.
“The ongoing scrutiny surrounding the Sussexes isn’t beneficial – it’s a black hole. In Tinseltown, negativity isn’t embraced.”
Ironically, the year just gone began with a goldrush for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as their Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan attracted huge TV audiences worldwide and his ghost-written biography Spare became the fastest-selling non-fiction book in history, with more than 3.2 million copies sold in its first week.
But they crashed into a metaphorical wall in May, when they claimed to have been chased through the streets of New York by paparazzi photographers in a reckless pursuit reminiscent of the one that ended in the death of Harry’s mother, Princess Diana.
The NYPD denied any knowledge of such an event and many pointed out that, even at night, the streets of Manhattan are largely gridlocked. “People just feel like they’re untrustworthy and melodramatic,” said US celebrity publicist Mitchell Jackson. “You can’t be self-important and last long in America.”
The bubble burst for real just weeks later in June, when Spotify terminated their $20 million contract amid acrimony and accusations that prompted Jeremy Zimmer, the chief executive of United Talent Agency to observe: “Turns out Meghan Markle was not a great audio talent……or necessarily any kind of talent. Just because you’re famous doesn’t make you great at something.”
This remark is particularly stinging since the Duchess had signed for rival Hollywood powerhouse agency WME two months earlier with the remit to help “remake” the former Suits actress, in part as an online entrepreneur like A-List celebrities Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba.
Last month, I reported how her new handlers are said to be “exasperated” over Meghan and Harry’s missteps and misfortunes since she signed – including the release of their “friend” Omid Scobie’s explosive book Endgame.
A rogue Dutch translation of the book named two senior members of the Royal Family as “racists” who questioned the skin colour of their then-unborn son, Prince Archie, who is now four – and the resulting uproar has further inflamed tensions between Harry and his father King Charles and brother Prince William.
Harry and Meghan have refused to publicly condemn the book, in which they claim to have taken no part, despite an exclusive phone poll for the UK’s Sunday Express newspaper earlier this month in which a staggering 99 per cent answered yes to the question: Should the Duke and Duchess denounce Endgame?
An American poll at the same time revealed Princess Kate is now more than twice as popular as her sister-in-law across the pond in Montecito, California. Kate now enjoys a 44 per cent positivity score in the US, with William her runner-up at 36 percent, Harry at 28 percent and Meghan last on a mere 21 percent.
The results prompted pollster James Johnson of JL Partners to declare: “Kate is the peoples’ princess. That’s the verdict of the American public. The Princess of Wales is their top-rated royal and they vastly prefer her to Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.
Former BBC Royal Correspondent Michael Cole says: “America loves winners, not whiners and, through hard work and endeavour, William and Kate, especially, are making their mark. Meghan, meanwhile, seems to be lost in no-man’s-land while Harry is thought of as the little boy who is constantly sticking his tongue out at his family.”
Mr Cole added: “I can only see a bleak outlook for them both if they continue to behave as they do. The one thing we know for sure is that in 2024, Harry will continue his High Court legal battles over privacy against newspapers in the UK while, back home in Montecito, they both do….precisely what?
“The Hollywood Reporter must have thought long and hard before branding them losers but that’s how they are now perceived. They could find themselves completely frozen out in Hollywood.”
Movie producer Paula Froelich believes they are already being given the cold shoulder by A-List stars and high-rollers, saying: “What people are nervous about, financially, is they don’t want to take a hit because they’re seen as friends of Harry and Meghan.”
She explained: “Everyone in LA has a movie they want to premiere in London or a play they want to take to the West End, and the biggest draw in London is William and Kate. If they show up, which is not often, it gets a lot of attention, it gets international attention, it’s reprinted all over the world. Nobody wants to be seen as friends of Harry and Meghan because it’s felt that William and Kate will likely not show up.”
One way forward for Meghan, who popped up before Christmas in an online coffee commercial, is a return to acting following the huge and unexpected success this year of syndicated re-runs of her old TV series Suits on Netflix, where the show topped America’s download chart for 15 weeks.
A senior Hollywood production executive said yesterday: “Despite everything, Meghan has acquired a lot of new and younger fans as a result of the Suits re-boot. There’s no doubt in my mind she would command very high-end fees if she were to return to acting. But is that something she would want? And where would that leave Harry in terms of a working life?
“They aren’t quite outcasts in Hollywood – yet. But the door is closing and they have some pretty urgent decisions to make about where they head next.”