Delayed Reaction: Why Stars Wait to Dish About Marriages and Breakups
By Catherine Donaldson-Evans Posted Oct 22nd 2010 02:00PM
Timing is everything. And nowhere is that more true than in Hollywood -- especially when it comes to celebrity love and the end of celebrity love. We've seen it happen over and over again. Stars "quietly" tie the knot or separate, but the news is kept secret, sometimes for longer than many celebrity marriages last. Take TV siblings David Schwimmer and Courteney Cox, who played Ross and Monica Geller on 'Friends.' The former got married to his longtime girlfriend, photographer Zoe Buckman, in June. The latter separated from her husband of 11 years, David Arquette, also in June. Neither made the announcement until months after the fact, releasing their news on the same day.
Which leaves us guessing why. Were they trying to avoid the crush of media attention until we didn't care as much? Waiting to see if the marriage and breakup stuck? Promoting a new movie, show or album? Distracting us from something else?
In Ross and Monica's case, it was likely all of the above. As Chandler might say, could they BE any more obvious?
"These announcements often come when celebrities have something to sell," Hollywood relationship expert Patrick Wanis tells PopEater. "David Schwimmer is in Chicago now promoting his new film ['Trust']."
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"If they're friends, their publicists may have contacted each other and said, 'Hey, how can we help each other?'" he says. "He might have been doing it as a favor by diffusing [attention from Cox]."
But sometimes even if a celebrity wants to tell the public about an engagement, marriage or breakup, a rep might be having none of it.
"Celebrities don't own their lives," Wanis says. "Their lives are owned by publicists, attorneys, managers and other handlers. They control their public image. They're the buffer between us and them."
The list of stars who have pulled off clandestine weddings -- sometimes even keeping the nuptials a secret from their guests -- is long. Brooke Shields did it when she tied the knot with sitcom writer husband Chris Henchy in 2001, in what people were told would be a dinner party in Catalina. Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony also managed to fool everyone, even their families, with their hush-hush ceremony in 2004, mere months after J.Lo's very public split from Ben Affleck.
Speaking of Ben, he and Jen No. 2 -- Jennifer Garner -- made things official in a covert wedding in 2005. Julia Roberts and husband Danny Moder surprised everyone by marrying at midnight on her New Mexico ranch in 2002. Jay-Z and Beyonce, Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds, and Sandra Bullock and Jesse James also all wed in secret. Even publicity queen Britney Spears pulled the wool over her guests' eyes when she and Kevin Federline exchanged vows at what was billed as their engagement party in 2004.
And that's only a handful of star couples who have kept their marriages hush-hush.
The same delayed reactions also happen with Hollywood breakups. Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes separated months before they actually announced the end of their nearly seven-year-long marriage in March. Ditto for Christina Aguilera and husband Jordan Bratman, who secretly split months before the news trickled out last week. Avril Lavigne and Deryck Whibley also kept their separation quiet before making it official, as did Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins -- who didn't announce they'd split up over the summer of 2009 until the following December.
"In the case of a marriage, it may be to protect the relationship," explained Wanis. "In the case of a breakup, they don't want it to tarnish the reputation of either person. They want to work out what are our real emotions, our real issues, and can we resolve this?"
Marrying or separating in secret often gives those close to the stars time to absorb the news and be comfortable with it. In the case of Schwimmer and Buckman, for example, their nearly 20-year age difference may have been hard for some to swallow, according to Wanis.
"He's 43 and she's 25, so the critics will start slamming it," he says. "This gives everyone time to get behind it."
Sometimes, stars bypass the "media machine" by taking to Twitter to share their news (Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey). Or calling a controversial radio personality to share their feelings (David Arquette). Such moves have mixed results. More often than not, they turn into publicity disasters.
"They take control rather than having to go through the press statement," says Wanis. "In David Arquette's case, he called Howard Stern. He didn't check with anyone."
Skirting their reps can empower stars and make them feel in charge of their own lives. And it usually will fetch them what they crave the most.
"We the public think we own them, and we don't, but they also don't own themselves," Wanis says. "Celebrities want the approval of the public. They want recognition, applause and attention above all else."
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