Help Solve the Lonelygirl15 Mystery

    by Mark Glaser
    September 8, 2006

    My head is spinning, hurting. I’m not sure which confounds me more — figuring out who YouTube star-of-the-moment Lonelygirl15 really is or figuring out why so many major news organizations have taken the bait and played along. I’m hoping that you, dear MediaShift readers, will take my pain away and help solve the mystery once and for all.

    We’ll get to the MediaShift Lonelygirl15 contest details in a minute. But first, the back story and the theories that are being floated around the blogosphere and in the media…

    Back Story

    It’s a simple story that got complicated. A young girl, saying she was 16 years old and named Bree, started posting videos of herself on YouTube under the user name “lonelygirl15” a couple months ago. Bree said she was home-schooled and had an awkward friendship with a boy named Daniel, who helped edit the videos. But as the site became more popular — due to Bree’s geeky cuteness and the well edited video vignettes — people started to question whether this girl was for real or a product of an online marketing conspiracy.


    The Lonelygirl15 channel on YouTube is the second most subscribed channel of all time on the site, with more than 23,000 subscribers. In aggregate, Bree’s videos have been viewed millions of times (the Joystiq blog puts that number at a staggering 18 million views). And major media have caught the Lonelygirl15 obsession, with New York Times TV critic/blogger Virginia Heffernan detailing her email exchanges with Bree, BusinessWeek media critic Jon Fine floating Deep Throat theories, and the Los Angeles Times seemingly putting more resources into the Lonelygirl15 mystery than the California governor’s race.

    New York magazine’s Adam Sternbergh hailed the Lonelygirl15 saga as perhaps “the future of television — or the promised land of a new narrative form.”

    Then came the big news yesterday in a post on the Lonelygirl15.com fan site (note that this site is now down):


    To Our Incredible Fans,

    Thank you so much for enjoying our show so far. We are amazed by the overwhelmingly positive response to our videos; it has exceeded our wildest expectations. With your help we believe we are witnessing the birth of a new art form. Our intention from the outset has been to tell a story – a story that could only be told using the medium of video blogs and the distribution power of the internet. A story that is interactive and constantly evolving with the audience.

    Right now, the biggest mystery of Lonelygirl15 is “who is she?” We think this is an oversimplification. Lonelygirl15 is a reflection of everyone. She is no more real or fictitious than the portions of our personalities that we choose to show (or hide) when we interact with the people around us. Regardless, there are deeper mysteries buried within the plot, dialogue, and background of the Lonelygirl15 videos, and many of our tireless and dedicated fans have unearthed some of these. There are many more to come.

    To enhance the community experience of Lonelygirl15, which you have already helped to create, we are in the process of building a website centered around video and interactivity. This website will allow everyone to enjoy the full potential of this new medium. Unfortunately, we aren’t programmers. We are filmmakers. We are working furiously to complete the website, and hope to have it up and running shortly.

    So, sit tight. You are the only reason for our success, and we appreciate your devotion. We want you to know that we aren’t a big corporation. We are just like you. A few people who love good stories. We hope that you will join us in the continuing story of Lonelygirl15, and help us usher in an era of interactive storytelling where the line between “fan” and “star” has been removed, and dedicated fans like yourselves are paid for their efforts. This is an incredible time for the creator inside all of us.

    Thank you.

    This was the weirdest and cruelest cut of all. Fans were up in arms at the fakery (even though they must have suspected this), and no one could figure out how the fans themselves would get “paid for their efforts.” Worse still, the L.A. Times reported that a gaggle of online fans traced an email from Lonelygirl15 to the offices of the mega talent firm Creative Artists Agency. Is Bree ready to hit the big time?

    The Questions that Remain

    So if we can believe that message from the creators of “the show,” we now know that there is a wizard behind the curtain and this is no typical YouTube teenager talking about her loneliness in a small town.

    But we still don’t know who is behind this effort, who the actors are playing Bree or Daniel, or where they really are going to go from here.

    So here are the questions that remain for you to answer so we can wrap up the mystery and get on with our lives…

    • Who is Bree a.k.a. Lonelygirl15? What’s her name and is she an actress or just a pawn in someone else’s production?
    • Who is Daniel and what is his real relationship with Bree?
    • Who are these other people behind the site, the ones “who love good stories”?
    • What’s Bree’s religion and the connection to occultist Aleister Crowley?
    • Is there a connection with an upcoming horror movie or other film or TV show?
    • Will anyone care by next month?

    The Contest

    The comments for this blog post are open for your theories, guesses or investigative sleuthing. The person or people who come up with the most correct answers to these questions first will have the choice of being featured in a future blog post on MediaShift, or writing a guest post themselves on MediaShift (subject to my final edit). As long as the subject matter of your post is relevant to new media, it should be fine.

    Or if the contest isn’t appealing, tell us what you think about the Lonelygirl15 phenomenon, why it’s so engaging, or why it annoys you. Did the fakery upset you and make you feel tricked? Are you sickened or happy about all the major media coverage? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

    UPDATE: Of course I’m having second and third thoughts about even posting this and bringing more attention to Lonelygirl15 after all that has been written already. The first two comments below make very good points about how sad it is to take up so much valuable editorial real estate with such a mindless pursuit. That said, there is a rubbernecking quality about getting sucked into such a mystery, not unlike previous entertainment mysteries such as “Who Shot J.R.?” and “Twin Peaks” and “Desperate Housewives” (Season One). The difference here is that it’s a true 21st century new age mystery, where people band together over the Net to find out more.

    And in the most selfish sense, my headache seems to have subsided just by putting it out on the blog and passing on the obsession to other people. Whew. And sorry about that…

    Tagged: lonelygirl15 videos weblog youtube
    • I would like to say that I knew that without question, this was a staged production from the first moment I saw it. But note that, I do not boast by making this statement. Such would be similar to claiming that the quacking waddling, feathered animal over in yonder park, is indeed, a duck. There is no need to be proud of common sense.

      That said, I am saddened at the attention this piece is getting. It is bad enough that the revolution of independent media is being overrun with poorly produced teenage self-indulgence- but to think that this tripe is now being produced and fed to the public is appalling. More than that, they are eating it by the bowlful!

      There are multitudes of entertaining, creative, and original work being created everyday, and published free far an audience who doesn’t seem to know or care that production value exists beyond the million dollar blockbusters.

      As a case in point: Tiki Bar TV, perhaps one of the most well received, well-produced pieces on the Internet, receives a reported 300,000 viewers an episode. They have been around for about 18 months now. The fact that 2 months could see such manufactured, inane drivel rocket past some of the best content that independent media has to offer reads poorly of the public pallet.

      Indeed I hope that this blows over post haste, lest more articles on fine progressive media blogs such as this, be sullied with its presence.

    • Simon

      I, like most, wanted to believe, though I have to say that I don’t think the creators looked at all angles and in the end I believe that they had to respond or have their entire plan backfire on them.

      To me, this is just another internet scam that took advantage of so many, using the questions and controversy to fuel the media and promote itself for free.

      Who I think will suffer in the end is the real video blogger. From now on, no one will be trusted in the video blogging world. Any teen video blogger will be subject to controversy and question.

      What is far worse, is that this will likely incite more entertainment “predators” to create more “lonely Girls” to scam the public, all in the name of profit.

      They believe we are witnessing a new art form. I believe we are witnessing a new form of terrorism.

    • SbS

      DanielBeast is still making posts to his MySpace blog–in character and true to the storyline–as recently as last night. Just FYI, or something.

    • SbS

      Also, if you scroll through his MySpace comments section, there are a couple guys he seems to be having brief, personal interactions with, if you go and look at THEIR comment sections. I didn’t note their names, but one is an African American guy who appears to be some sort of an artist, and the other is a guy dressed in a ninja costume who appears to be involved with film production in some form or fashion, based on the “companies” description he has given on his profile. I believe both are in Daniel’s top 8. Notable in the Ninja guy’s comments section is where Daniel remarks that their interaction will be “dissected”, to which Ninja guy replies “Dissect away, fools” or something to that affect.

      Another thing I noticed about DanielBeast’s top 8 is that it includes Annie Kehoe, a relatively obscure actress who some had claimed was portraying LonelyGirl. If you look at Annie’s pictures, there is a vague similarity, but she is obviousely not “Bree”. I did find it amusing that Daniel chose to acknowledge this rumor by placing her at such a prominent position on his profile.

    • Steve

      Like many people I spend a few hours a day on the internet, a portion of which is devoted to my growing YouTube fascination. When lonelygirl15’s vlogs first appeared in June I was struck with how cute she was and how clever and silly her antics were. Not for a split second did I think her videos were anything more than fun, escapist entertainment nor did I lose a moment’s sleep over whether they were real or fake. When her media star rose beyond all sanity I was even more amused. Good for her, I felt.

      The world is a tough enough place to be these days and I’m delighted I can watch Bree’s loopy adventures on YouTube as often as they come out. There’s a lot of intrigue embedded in her installments and it’s a hoot keeping up with whatever game is afoot.

      Unfortunately there are a lot of killjoys out there who can’t relate to guilty pleasures of the masses and want to scold us out of them. More than a few town scolds have risen to the bait of Bree’s media success and have sharply berated the high-profile journalists who’ve covered her story. I would remind them that Bree is not in-your-face unless you bring her there by your own choice.

      On to the mysteries:

      Who is Bree a.k.a. Lonelygirl15? Whats her name and is she an actress or just a pawn in someone elses production?
      Bree is probably the name the character lonelygirl15 wants to use to reduce the chances of being stalked. Her real name in the series might be Cassie but she doesn’t let on that it is. Keep watching. Lonelygirl15, however, is probably in real life a fresh-faced young woman in her early twenties with some arts training, perhaps in children’s theatre, judging by her comical expressions both facial and vocal, deft use of puppets and superb timing. She’s most likely a co-creator of the series.

      Who is Daniel and what is his real relationship with Bree?
      Like Bree Daniel’s probably a creative insider. There’s not much palpable chemistry between the two and maybe they have no history together besides this project.

      Who are these other people behind the site, the ones who love good stories?
      I don’t believe the real creators have spoken yet. The tone of their “letter” is self-congratulatory (“We are amazed by the overwhelmingly positive response to our videos; it has exceeded our wildest expectations.”) and insufferably condescending to those who wondered about whether or not Bree was real (“She is no more real or fictitious than the portions of our personalities that we choose to show (or hide) when we interact with the people around us.”) and disingenuous (“We think this is an oversimplification.” ….. “We are just like you.”).

      Whats Brees religion and the connection to occultist Aleister Crowley?
      Who knows? The Bree she wants you to think she is may be a facade, again to help her throw people off. That is, so people don’t try finding her at a church which she might well be. Yes, that’s convoluted, but that’s exactly how her character’s been shaping up to be.

      Is there a connection with an upcoming horror movie or other film or TV show?
      Doubtful. The story arc of lonelygirl15 is too riddled with minutiae to make much sense as a lead up. Half of the backstory, for instance, is told in Bree’s comments to her viewers! These tidbits show up later in her vlogs and confound the heck out of newbies.

      Will anyone care by next month?
      The whole world will be captivated when the big denouement about her “initiation ceremony” is posted in a few weeks.

    • Duaba

      gosh, lonelygirl15 is all over the internet
      i just wanna know, how dit she became so famous, she only post some videos…

    • I don’t know if the right questions are even being asked.
      The message from “The Creators” seems relatively amateurish and not the type of thing that would be written by “the mega talent firm Creative Artists Agency” nor would the lonelygirl15 story be unveiled in such a way by professionals.

      If CAA is in some way involved as the traced IP would indicate I would say it was a sideline project put together by a low level employee looking to make a name for him or herself.

      I’m a subscriber to both the Lonelygirl15.com forum as well as another larger forum dedicated to the subject and just 24 hours later posts and visits to the forums have slowed dramatically.

      You can only post so much about the message from The Creators before everything is said. Other areas of the forum dedicated to speculation are dead because most people believe there is nothing more to speculate and sections about the videos and her religion have died because the videos aren’t real and she has no real religion.

      In my humble opinion much to the regret of many the only thing left to write on the subject is the obituary so here it is:

      Lonelygirl15 (June 2006- September 2006)
      It was announced today on lonelygirl15’s website that she had unexpectedly passed away. The popular youtube vlogger was the #2 most subscribed to vlogger in youtube’s short history. She was young, smart, cute and funny. Her vlogs were amazingly professional for one so young and who had lived such a sheltered life. Many fans of the “teen” were crushed by the news of her passing while other’s never truly believed in her existence at all. Her family members were nonexistent for comment.

      I will add that my guess in answer to THE CONTEST questions is that all of a sudden a new post will be made on lonelygirl15’s forum stating that the forum had been hacked and that none of what “The Creators” had posted was true.

      At that point a whole new life will be given to the Lonelygirl15 saga.

      Maybe in her religion they believe in re-incarnation.

    • haklu

      Hello! I read above about the DanielBeast Myspace page. It is important for people to know and certainly journalists that DanielBeast’s Myspace is FAKE. It was set up by people at the alissabrooke.proboards56.com forums to catch lonelygirl and just make fools out of people! Thank you.

    • crackityjonesjr

      It should be noted that the Danielbeast MySpace page was NOT created to “catch” Lonelygirl or “just make fools out of people.” Its sole purpose was to expose a fake forum tipster, which it did.

      It should be obvious to anyone reading the Danielbeast MySpace blog that it is satire.

    • Mike

      The ad at the end of the latest video on lonelygirl15.com points to a site itsallinyourhands.com, where viewers get to vote on the outcome of episodic content. The title of this latest video is “Should I or Shouldn’t I?”, so is this whole LG15 production affiliated with itsallinyourhands.com? It’s produced by Clearwater St productions, http://www.clearwaterst.com/, that’s my guess.

    • F

      I believe LG15 is Brad Pitt in drag, duuh! So obvious. Like Dood, get a clue!

    • Darren Daulton from the future

      She’s “Megan (sp?) from UCLA, a film major probably. She appears in the Penn & Teller BullSh!t College episode about 2:19 into it. This isn’t a mystery, people.

    • Charles Snider

      Is reality TV and this new off-shoot, reality-BASED TV/Web-TV the new paradigm? Do people dismiss thoughtfully acted and edited and produced pieces like “YouTube Late Nite” now available on YouTube? Man, just seems that no one appreciates staged entertainment anymore these days,,,good article about this LG stuff. There’s more than one of these hoaxes out there. I am curious if YouTube is aware of that when they decide to “Feature” these hoaxes. THAT’s when they take off. YouTube is at fault too for instigating these hoaxes by selecting them for “Features.”

    • Mike the add at the end of the video is served by revver.com which has many clients and the add is different every time you watch it.

    • andy

      our local CBS TV station did a story on this:


    • Mondo

      Darren Daulton said “Bree” appeared as “Megan” in the Penn & Teller Bullsh!t College episode at 2:19 into it. I watched it (link below) and I’m pretty sure that’s NOT the same girl (compare the eyebrows and the voices).


    • WeW

      From TMZ.com:

      “…If this morning’s reports are to be believed, is that a “pair of filmmakers” has copped to helping start the Internet phenomenon.

      But the story that’s been told so far isn’t the real deal — and TMZ knows it. Normally we tell you everything — but because of source confidentiality we can’t this time. It’s a much more intriguing and hilarious tale than anyone knows. When we can, we’ll spill it.

    • demosthenes

      In he Cookie Monster “episode,” (if a one to two minute clip can be called that,) the Purple Monkey judge holds up a 10 a 12 and then an 06, the interesting one being the last. The LA Times brought attention to the unusual 0 in front of the six rather than just a big ol’ 6. Now, hold that thought.

      Some people have said that it this is all one big advertisment for a horror movie. Occultists’, a boy who is obsessed with this girl (the “episode” swimming, shows us exactly what this guy is thinking, and where) and she cant do anything with him because of her religion or doesnt want to, and now this big party. What happens when you realease a girl who has, for most of her life, been crampped up in a small room, with only her parents and this one guy?

      I dont know, we’ll probably be finding out on 10/12/06, when the movie opens.

      so what might it be called? “The Occultist” maybe, but thats just a guess out of hundreds of names, and there is no way that I’m right.

    • beelzebub

      It is said above: “It should be noted that the Danielbeast MySpace page was NOT created to “catch” Lonelygirl or “just make fools out of people.” Its sole purpose was to expose a fake forum tipster, which it did.”
      This cannot be accurate. If one thinks about it, they had no way of knowing that the tipster was fake. How could they? Also for some reason the DanielBeast Myspace site does not declare that it itself is fake, although it is. The above poster is perfectly correct on this point, it is indeed satire.

    • Lonelyman666

      It is not official yet, but there is a rumour that the actress is Jaclynn Tiffany Brown, born in 1979. Check her out on the IMDB. I personally think we have got a winner here

    • Lonelyman666

      On second thought – my theory that Jaclynn Brown is lonelygirl15 is probably wrong, the photo from IMDB doesn’t match fully with the infamous lonelygirl666…sorry


      Hi guys,

      in case you have not heard of it yet: There is some extremely interesting information!

      Somebody did a Google search with “Creative Artists Agency” and “Goodfried” (the name of “Bree”s lawyer…and had an excellent HIT at a myspace page – which was immediately deleted after it was discovered…

      BUT it was CACHED, of course :::—)))

      You can find all the details here:


      It is now clear that the CAA is involved (if somebody still had some doubts about it…) ;-)


      For the Goodfried s, who are clearly behind the whole lonelygirl15 thing (HE GOT THE COPYRIGHT AND THE SOON-TO-BE-WIFE WORKS FOR THE CAA) see also:



      BIG NEWS:

      The “kind of official” http://www.lonelygirl15.com website is deleted !!!
      Including the highly interesting forum !!!

      So my links above – which were working fine about 6 hours ago – are DEAD now.

      BUT DON’T DESPAIR: I have saved one of the “mirror” pages of Mrs. Goodfried’s myspace profile (the page that was deleted immediately after discovery), in which she says that she works for the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) – she is also a lawyer and married to Kenneth Goodfried who is the owner of the rights to lonelygirl15 !!!

      Their daughter is Lisa Goodfried, born 1981.

      So that’s what I call a SMOKING GUN.

      Here is the link:

      As we know, the CAA has “neither denied nor admitted” their involvement in this “lonelygirl15 scam”…

      Please read the Wikipedia article about lonelygirl15 !!!

      I would be very happy if this info would find its way into Wikipedia, because it is important (basically proves the CAA connection).

      Any suggestions to: [email protected]


      Oh sorry, there was a little mistake…
      The link is working fine, but it says there that the owner of the myspace profile is 27 years old, so it might be from the daughter.

      Many unanswered questions! Sorry for that.

      At least this crucial link is working…

    • robtomorrow

      I became captivated by the lonelygirl15 saga about two months ago, I consider myself intellegent and well read, so I seriously have a hard time explaning why it has so captivated me. They are somehow adictive, and once your hooked your hooked.

      My own theory is that this is not a profesional production. The Creators are most likely young flim or art students who started this, not really expecting it to become such a phenomena. The story developed as they went along, with the comments by viewers affecting the plot.

      Now that it has become such a success they are trying to find a way to make money off of it. Hence the recent trademark filing, the statement on the website. and the postings on revver.com.

    • robtomorrow

      On reflecting on my last post I bet CalArts might be a good place to look for anwsers.

    • timesup

      Her name is Jessica Rose and she’s from New Zealand (just google that) And imo she’s still cool…

    • Bilbo Baggins
    • Bilbo Baggins

      And the story was broken (how, no one knows– I say there was a leaker from NZ) here:


    • Thanks for all your sleuthing and ideas. I’m trying to figure out who the person was who figured this out — whether it’s smit or mgpapas at YouTube, who both have videos up. If this person can verify that they were first on the real deal, they’ll get a chance to tell their story here on MediaShift.

    • Bilbo Baggins

      What’s interesting about all this (the photos and her multiple postings on her own myspace and many other myspace pages of friends) is that she is a perfectly interesting person in her own right. Maybe she’ll youtube herself as herself, instead of as Bree. And the other part is that people are watching because we think the payoff (whatever this story is leading to) is interesting enough to follow. As long as it is, there won’t be any negative feelings at all over this.

    • I know this may be a scam and i am not questioning anything, but why get so involved whether it is or not? Its entertainment, it is amusing so im going to keep getting tuned into lonelygirl15, something interesting instead of bogans on the internet. ( i understand that other people would label her as a “bogan” but whther she’s a fake or not, she is interesting)

    • Jax

      Holy wow! This thing has blown up!! And even since this article, there have been several videos on youtube attacking the poor girl.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_JzmSwsvEU of course, the maximum exposure,

      then.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0waQvhzg-dE this one was interesting.. it shows her in two scenes of this amateure looking film, at times 3:38 and 4:51

      then, theres the L.A. times articles..

      then theres the other movie she was in.. “dearly beloved”
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfdNVbN4GC4 is a trailer for it.

      Note the similarity.. wow, it’s gotta be her! listen to the voice!!

      It’s horrible, but true. Jessica Lee Rose is Lonelygirl5

    • Munky

      not sure if it has already been posted but here is jessica rose’s blog spot:


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