get if we code tom cruise as toc and jack hurley as jah what should angel winslet be coded as from screen.
The spats, the spin, the celebrities
We're fascinated by Liz and Bing, Kate and Sam, and Tom and Nicole, but tawdry revelations about stars' lives are just a PR tool.
The spats, the spin, the celebrities
We're fascinated by Liz and Bing, Kate and Sam, and Tom and Nicole, but tawdry revelations about stars' lives are just a PR tool
The Observer, Sunday 9 December 2001
It was like a glorious, newly discovered, episode of Celebrity Big Brother - an intimate peek into the knicker drawer of two of Britain's biggest stars.
Last week, in tabloids and broadsheets alike, the murky revelations from Kate Winslet and Elizabeth Hurley about the turmoil of their personal relationships were raked over like so much compost. And in a culture redefined by reality television, nothing is more compelling than the tawdry realities of celebrity life. Often more compelling, certainly, than the celebrities' 'work'.
'We're very happy, unbelievably happy,' said Winslet, 26, of her relationship with 35-year-old Oscar-winning film director Sam Mendes. The couple posed for photographers at the New York premiere of her film Iris, based on the life of novelist Iris Murdoch.
The pregnant Hurley hasn't had a week with so much tabloid exposure since she wore that Versace dress, while stepping out on the arm of former lover Hugh Grant. She used the press to retaliate at comments made by her ex-boyfriend, Steve Bing, the 35-year-old American movie producer who had suggested - in the episode's finest, if not most gallant, turn of phrase - that he had not been in an 'exclusive relationship' with Hurley, and hence might not be the father of her child.
'This was the first I had heard of this and the implications are very painful, especially as I am shortly to give birth to his child,' announced Hurley.
The cynical might reckon that Hurley - whose fame is largely a media contrivance - is using the press to put pressure on an ex-partner, and to paint herself as a victim.
Airing her dirty laundry in public also keeps her conveniently on the front pages of national papers. She certainly seems to be winning the moral high ground, as played out in the papers at least. Bing is now 'Bing Laden', and last week, the Mirror printed Bing's business telephone number in Los Angeles, a number then jammed by readers defending Hurley's honour.
It might seem as if we were living through an era of total celebrity revelation. Visit any newsagent's shop and you will be surrounded by famous faces beaming out from magazines accompanied by cover lines promising exclusive revelations about the stars' private lives. But often what we read about the stars turns out to be as closely controlled as it was when the Hollywood studios manufactured every word and every carefully chosen photograph.
It's a trade-off, says Dylan Jones, editor of GQ : 'We in the media use celebrities as much as they use us.' He thinks we do know more about celebrities than we did 30 or 40 years ago. 'The media is far more intrusive. But I am a bit cynical about when [celebrities] choose to reveal a personal crisis. I don't doubt the timeliness of the revelations.'
For celebrities, relationships are now part of their 'sales pitch', another means by which they can sell themselves or their latest product. But this is merely a question of satisfying demand, says Caroline McAteer of the Outside Organisation, an entertainment PR company.
'The press and the public seem sometimes to be more interested in celebrities' private lives than in their work,' says McAteer, whose clients include Victoria Beckham. 'You often see interviews where there is one line about the album or film while the rest of the interview is about their relationship or eating habits.' Often, this is an arrangement the celebrity seems all too happy to endorse. The first picture of Kate Winslet with her new boyfriend was taken at the premiere of her latest movie. What's more, it was during a press junket for the film that she told a group of journalists: 'A marriage is about the meeting of two minds and two souls and hoping that that's going to work forever. Look, life is life and sometimes it just doesn't work, and that's a shame.'
Celebrities move fast, and the media can't always keep up.
The news last September that Winslet was to separate from her 27-year-old husband, Jim Threapleton, came as a complete surprise to many - not least the staff of British InStyle magazine who only days before had published an interview with the star in which she proclaimed her love for her husband.
Celebrities declaring their marital happiness, rather like football chairmen publicly backing their managers, should be regarded with suspicion.
However, we should be thankful that celebrities, unlike the rest of us, don't seem to spend two years moping around wearing only a stained T-shirt when recovering from a difficult break-up. It's certainly very good for business.
The expeditious romance between Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz will make their new film, Vanilla Sky, to be released here next year, much more compulsive. Good business, all round, it seems - Nicole Kidman, Cruise's now ex-wife, sat for an American Marie Claire cover shoot on the day before her separation from Tom Cruise was announced.
Kidman continued to appear on cover after cover, capitalising on the public's sudden interest in her private life, while helping to promote her new movies, Moulin Rouge and The Others.
'Honestly, people should mind their own damn business,' moaned Tom Cruise recently. 'My personal life is not to sell newspapers,' he declared, while simultaneously adorning this month's edition of Vanity Fair, wearing little more than a saccharine smile.