Do you ever wonder where rumors about celebrity breakups come from?
Every couple is a bit different, but there does seem to be some kind of basic timeline when it comes to celebs getting divorced or separating. It usually all starts with one (or both) parts of the duo being seen out and about sans partner, then it progresses to tales of trouble in paradise from an “inside source” before the couple publicly slams the allegations about their relationship.
And then, a good percentage of the time, said couple does end up breaking things off not long after the initial “rumors” started.
Is it coincidence? Do the rumors drive a wedge between the partners? Or is the formulaic breakup pattern just another weird Hollywood well-thought-out scheme?
According to one Hollywood publicist to the stars, it’s option C. In a recent interview with New York magazine, Rob Shuter, the man behind the PR curtain during breakups like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez’s and Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey’s, revealed that that the public unraveling of high-profile relationships is often orchestrated. Shuter also explained how celeb breakups often share common elements.
Here’s the anatomy of a celebrity breakup, straight from a real inside source.
1. There’s a pact between the behind-the-scenes people
Shuter admitted that celebs don’t always run straight to their PR rep to do damage control when their relationship hits the rocks. “Celebrities are people after all,” Shuter said. “When troubles are happening in their personal lives and they haven’t processed it, they’re not always ready to call someone they pay, who may live in New York City.”
So who do they talk to about it? Hair and makeup, of course. And that’s exactly who reps rely on to provide them with inside information when their clients don’t let them know what’s going on. “The hair and the makeup people, they always seem to be the first to know,” revealed Shuter. “Sometimes the publicist, the hair and makeup people, the car driver, the security — they’ll have a little pact where they all tell each other what’s going on.”
2. Silence speaks a thousand words
Have you noticed that after rumors of a pending split hit the media, there’s normally a lull between stories? That might be a sure sign that the stories hold some water. “It’s when sources go silent — radio silent — that you know there’s a problem,” said Shuter. “With Ben (Affleck) and Jen (Garner), I’d heard rumors for about six months. When I started not getting texts back, or calls back, that’s when I knew something was going on. If you can’t find a source to defend the marriage, you know there’s trouble.”
We’ve definitely noticed this pattern: A smattering of stories from “sources” about fighting or a cheating scandal, only to be followed by the couple staying out of the limelight for a while until the smoke clears. It happened with Affleck and Garner, Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon, and countless other couples.
3. Reps aren’t always the first to know of trouble, but they’re far from the last
“I’ve known instances where a member of that couple has told their publicist before they’ve told their significant other,” Shuter said.
Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, huh? Keeping your reputation intact is key when you’re vying for hot jobs in Hollywood, so it kind of makes sense to get out in front of any breakup drama. It’s cold, but it makes sense.
4. Publicists schedule breakup announcements
Shuter disclosed that it’s not uncommon for PR machines to carefully plan when celebrities can officially announce a breakup, so as to not interfere with any projects the performers might be promoting. For instance, Affleck’s reps might have chosen this time to disclose his divorce with Garner in hopes that the chatter will quieten by the time his upcoming film, Batman, is released.
“Sunshine Sachs is a major PR company. They’re really smart with it,” he said of Affleck’s representatives. “Now that it’s out there, he will probably have a very firm, carefully crafted answer. He can say, ‘It’s a private matter,’ or, ‘This is something that’s heartbreaking to me,’ or, ‘we’re still great friends.’ He’ll have a few stock answers that he can pull out, and then he’ll move on to talk about the movie.”
This would explain why celebs often publicly deny relationship trouble when the media is in a frenzy about an impending split. Not all rumors are real, after all, and if the celeb’s rep tells them to deny what’s going on until the right time, they have to make some kind of statement sooner or later. Like Shuter said, radio silence is a sure sign of trouble.
5. PR teams play favorites with media outlets
After each part of the couple calls their respective PR reps and the reps write a joint statement, they choose who to release the statement to — and it’s not random. “Often you know which outlets these people prefer because they’re always the ones that get it first,” said Shuter.
According to Shuter, People used to be a favorite of many stars and when Simpson and Lachey broke up, the statement went to Us magazine first because Simpson had a relationship with them.
6. Planned paparazzi photo ops can come into play
Shuter says that not all celebs go into hiding during a breakup, some actually revel in the attention — reality celebs in particular. “You’ll stage the paparazzi when they’re walking down the street looking very sad, wearing black,” he explained. “It’s totally overt, to the point where you tell them the time to be there. ‘She’ll be in Central Park, wearing black, sitting on a bench, and she’ll be there for 10 minutes. Fine, see you at 12:01.”