The Aniston Effect Hits 'Dancing With The Stars'
By Ben Widdicombe Posted Apr 20th 2010 04:00PM
Jennifer Aniston has long known that a hotly-rumored romance with a co-star can sell tickets to an otherwise unpromising movie (when it's not breaking up your own marriage). Now, the "Aniston Effect" has tricked down to reality TV.
This week, no fewer than three 'Dancing With The Stars' couples are enjoying speculation that their rhythmic partnerships may be horizontal as well as vertical. But even if viewers suspect they're being played, it's a time-honored PR formula that seems to be working for the vote-hungry dancers.
Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
People magazine has flat-out declared a "hot romance" between Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who is perhaps to blame for the spate of relationship speculations. (Chmerkovskiy was briefly engaged to fellow serial-dater-dancer Karina Smirnoff, who herself had previously dated former dance-partner Mario Lopez. The ensuing publicity was a boost to all parties.)
But when Ellen DeGeneres asked the couple directly, all she got was a winking non-denial. "Depends what day you get us on," said Erin coyly.
Oh, puh-leaze! I think we can safely translate that response as "no, but we're gonna milk it for all we can."
Pamela Anderson and Damian Whitewood
But they're not the only offenders. Even when Pamela Anderson was denying a love-match with her dancing partner Damian Whitewood (who has a girlfriend), she did so in a way that left the maximum room for interpretation. "It's a very romantic, very sexy relationship," she told Larry King on his program.
Well, that clears that up!
Chad Ochocinco and Cheryl Burke
The only one who seems in on the joke is Chad Ochocinco, who presented his partner Cheryl Burke with a bling-finger sparkler that got everyone talking. But Chad has such a gleam in his eye when he's laying on the romance (teasing her on GMA that their chemistry is "nothing like your past partners") that it's almost a pleasure to be played.
But why is it that a possible romance makes us so much more interested in the dancers? Longtime New York personal publicist R. Couri Hay told PopEater: "Everyone likes to fantasize about attractive, rich, powerful and sexy people. Gossip is the national pastime."
Hay said that each individual celebrity is using their personal brand to introduce the audience to 'DTWS,' a formula that works for everyone. "I saw Pam on Larry King and for the first time in my life, it made me want to watch 'Dancing With The Stars,'" he said.
Fake Hollywood romances are older than Rock Hudson and -- ahem -- Mrs. Hudson. While Aniston's recent quasi-fling with 'The Bounty Hunter' co-star Gerard Butler generated the most publicity, those of us in the celebrity news biz have questioned many others. (One that set off my personal radiation detector was the much-photographed dalliance between the Taylors Swift and Lautner.)
As a PR strategy, Hay said he would not object if one of his clients were photographed with a celebrity they were not sleeping with, and told the media, "We're just friends."
"It's only evil if they say they're in love and they're faking it," he said.
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