More than 3 million viewers regularly watch “Hannah Montana,” most of them age 6 to 14.
Media outlets, in particular the rabid celebrity-focused tabloids, have been pushing to capture new angles of the ubiquitous Ms. Cyrus. After popping up everywhere from the Academy Awards to “American Idol” in recent months, the only photos of her that are assured of selling are controversial ones.
A Disney spokeswoman, Patti McTeague, faulted Vanity Fair for the photo. “Unfortunately, as the article suggests, a situation was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines,” she said.
The article, written by Bruce Handy, seems to support that claim, quoting Ms. Cyrus as saying, “Annie took, like, a beautiful shot, and I thought it was really cool. That’s what she wanted me to do, and you can’t say no to Annie.” She also said of the photo, “I think it’s really artsy. It wasn’t in a skanky way.”
Ms. Cyrus had a different view in a prepared statement released on Sunday:
“I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”
Beth Kseniak, a spokeswoman for both Vanity Fair magazine and Ms. Leibovitz said, “Miley’s parents and/or minders were on the set all day. Since the photo was taken digitally, they saw it on the shoot and everyone thought it was a beautiful and natural portrait of Miley.”
At the very least, Ms. Cyrus and her advisers do not seem to be on the same page as Disney. The company learned of the photo only when “Entertainment Tonight” started showing its promos.
Last week, Gary Marsh, the president of entertainment for Disney Channel Worldwide, was quoted in Portfolio magazine saying, “For Miley Cyrus to be a ‘good girl’ is now a business decision for her. Parents have invested in her a godliness. If she violates that trust, she won’t get it back.”