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Pitt, Jolie split! No, they didn’t ... wait ... nope

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston have been apart for five years; Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been together for nearly as long. Judging from recent photos of Jolie and Pitt at the Super Bowl in Miami and Aniston celebrating her 41st birthday in Mexico, they’re all getting on just fine.

So why the constant coverage on so many covers of celebrity weeklies, claiming illicit trysts, imminent splits and secret texts?

Since 2009, Jolie, Pitt and Aniston have appeared on the cover in some iteration of 23 issues of In Touch Weekly, 13 issues of Life & Style, two issues of Us Weekly and two issues of People magazine. While some of this coverage has been of the positive ilk, most has not.

The explanation for the exposure ad nauseam is fairly simple. If magazines featuring Jolie, Pitt and to some extent, Aniston, didn’t sell, they wouldn’t be on the newsstand. But the fact is, no matter how outlandish some of the claims may seem, people want to read about these three, and they pay to do so.

“Even the more reputable magazines have started to take the Brad and Angelina fighting stories further and further as they know that’s what works,” said a rep for one of the magazines.

Everyone is happyBut depending on whom you listen to, you probably shouldn’t believe everything you read. For starters, sources in both the Aniston and Jolie-Pitt camps insist that all parties are happy.

“Jen got over Brad a long time ago,” said a source who has known Aniston since the actress and Pitt were married. “She doesn’t wake up thinking she’s made some huge mistake, she doesn’t worry about running into him at events, she has her own life and it’s a great one.”

“Brad and Angie are just fine. Most of this doesn’t even faze them,” said a source close to the couple. “It’s not like they’re out scanning newsstands. They’ve got better things to do.”

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    Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt : Actors and activists

    Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (and their growing family) travel the world for worthy causes.

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    Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt : Actors and activists

    When Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt aren't busy making movies or taking care of their growing brood of children, the Hollywood power couple volunteers and donates millions to a number of causes around the world.

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    UN Special Envoy and actress Angelina Jolie and actor Brad Pitt attend the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict at ExCel on June 13, 2014 in London, England.

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    Visiting Bosnia

    Angelina Jolie, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and husband Brad Pitt visit the village of Medjedja, 43 miles east of Sarajevo, on April 5, 2010. The Jolie-Pitts flew into Bosnia on a surprise visit to meet refugees still suffering from the brutal 1992-1995 civil war.

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    Giving back

    Jolie, Goodwill Ambassador of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, talks to a 10-year-old Haitian boy who lost a limb during the January 12 earthquake as she visits the MSF Hospital on February 9, 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

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    Saints fans

    Angelina Jolie, son Maddox Jolie-Pitt and Brad Pitt are seen leaving Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium on Feb.7, 2010 in Miami Gardens, Fla. The couple cheered on the New Orleans Saints, since they have a house there and have worked to build new environmentally-friendly homes in the area.

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    Helping refugees

    Angelina Jolie attends the 2009 World Refugee Day at National Geographic Society June 18, 2009 in Washington, DC. Jolie paid tribute to the 10.5 million refugees now recognized by the Commission. The UNHCR announced that she and her partner, Brad Pitt, have donated $1 million to help Pakistanis displaced by fighting between troops and Taliban militants.

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    Make it right

    Brad Pitt poses for a photograph in Kellogg Park, a technologically advanced playground in the Lower 9th Ward that uses solar energy to run its electronic wireless game system in New Orleans. The playground sits among homes being built through Pitt's Make It Right Foundation.

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    Woman to woman

    In October, 2008, three months after giving birth to twins, Jolie, goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, traveled to Afghanistan and met with returnee women in Nangarhar province.

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    $2 million to Ethopian clinic

    Pitt and Jolie, shown attending a screening of "Changeling" on Oct. 4, 2008 in New York, announced in September that they were donating $2 million to help fight HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in Ethiopia. The money will be used to build a center, named for their 3-year-old daughter Zahara, who was born in that country.

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    $14 million twins

    In August, 2008, People magazine reportedly paid $14 million for the first photos of their newborn twins. The money will go to a foundation created by Pitt and Jolie that largely focuses on helping children around the world.

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    The $8 million couple

    In 2006, according to the Huffington Post's examination of federal tax filings, the couple donated $8 million, with Pitt putting in $4,402,317, and Jolie donating $4,123,613.

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  • Brad Pitt salutes fans at the Idol Gives Back show at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood

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    A true idol

    Actor Brad Pitt salutes fans at the "Idol Gives Back" show at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood, California April 6, 2008. The "American Idol" special charity event benefits relief programs for children and young people in extreme poverty. According to "Idol Gives Back," more than $64 million has so far been allocated from the event. In its two years in existence, the special has raised more than $140 million.

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  • Former U.S. President Clinton speaks with Brad Pitt and community members in New Orleans

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    Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (L) speaks as actor Brad Pitt (R), community members, and volunteers look on during a groundbreaking ceremony for Pitt's "Make it Right" house construction project in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans March 16, 2008. REUTERS/Lee Celano (UNITED STATES)

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    Jolie visits Iraq again

    During a visit to Baghdad in February 2008, Jolie had lunch with with US Marine Corporal Christopher Lewis, and met with US General David Patraeus, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Jolie's visit, in her capacity as an ambassador for the UN High Commission for Refugees, was intended to help increase assistance efforts with displaced Iraqis.

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    Helping the displaced in New Orleans

    Jolie has joined with The Children's Health Fund to find ways to help the reportedly thousands of displaced children who are showing mental and physical problems likely due to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The couple visited New Orleans just before Christmas in December, 2007, when Pitt urged Americans to donate to the home-building effort.

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    Paying it forward

    Each actor earns millions at the box office -- enabling them to give millions away to good causes. Here they arrive for the premiere of Pitt's "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" at the 33rd Deauville American Film Festival on Sept. 3, 2007 in Deauville, France.

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    Visiting Iraqi refugees

    Jolie, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, meets with an elderly refugee at the makeshift Al Waleed camp in Iraq in August, 2007. The woman, as well as an estimated 1,300 other people, were unable to leave the country for neighboring Syria. Jolie spent two days in Iraq and Syria, seeing first hand the plight of four million people uprooted by the ongoing conflict in Iraq.

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    Lending a hand

    Lower Ninth Ward resident Pam Dashiell, talks with Pitt before a news conference with Global Green USA at a environmentally friendly house under construction in New Orleans in August, 2007. Dashiell served on the committee that judged the designs for the houses. The Jolie-Pitt Foundation donated $100,000 to the organization in 2006.

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    Helping Darfur

    In May 2007, Jolie and Pitt enjoyed an intimate dinner in Prague, where Jolie filmed a role in "Wanted," a comic book adaptation. While there, the couple announced that they were donating $1 million from their Jolie-Pitt Foundation to groups assisting more than four million people affected by the crisis in Darfur.

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  • Actress and activist Angelina Jolie participates in Global Action For Children press conference.

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    Caring for children

    In April 2007, Jolie participated in the Global Action For Children (GAC) press conference in Washington, D.C. The organization supports orphans and vulnerable children and helps provide free schooling in developing countries. At the conference Jolie said: "In many ways it is better to think of these children one by one -- each deserving of our care and attention, each being of equal value, and each being a test of whether justice -- or injustice -- will prevail."

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  • U.S. actress Jolie carries her newly adopted son as she walks from the car to the plane at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi

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    Adding to the brood

    In March 2007, Jolie carried her newly-adopted son, Pax, then 3, on to a plane at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi. The Vietnamese boy's name means "peaceful sky" -- "pax" means peace in Latin and "thien" translates to "sky" in Vietnamese. According to Reuters, the actress left a note in the visitor’s book of Tam Binh orphanage: "Thank you for taking such wonderful care of my son. I am sure he will miss your beautiful, caring staff as much as you will miss him."

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    Love of New Orleans

    In March, 2007, Pitt and Jolie took their two young daughters, Zahara and Shiloh, for a walk in the sunshine in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Pitt first fell in love with the Big Easy in 1994 when he was filming “Interview with the Vampire” there. In 2007 he and Jolie purchased a home in the French Quarter while he was filming “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and they’ve made the city their part-time home.

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    'God Grew Tired of Us'

    In Jan. 2007, Pitt attended the Newmarket Films after-party in West Hollywood, Calif. for the premiere of "God Grew Tired of Us," for which he served as an executive producer. Jolie joined him at the party for the documentary, which followed four Sudanese boys who escaped their war-ridden homeland to travel to America.

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    Architectural interests

    In December, 2006 Pitt and Jolie visited Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural masterpiece, where they celebrated the actor's upcoming birthday. “Brad said he had wanted to experience Fallingwater ever since he took an architectural history course in college,” said curator Cara Armstrong. “He and I talked quite a bit about design and art. He was incredibly well-informed about architecture.”

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    Traveling to Panama

    Pitt talked with an unidentified man outside of a handicraft market in Panama City on Dec. 29, 2006. Besides touring the capital, Pitt and Jolie visited a former U.S. military base and the construction site of Panama's new Biodiversity Museum, designed by Frank Gehry, at the entrance of the canal in the Amador district.

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    Spending time with refugees

    Jolie and Pitt (not pictured) met a Colombian refugee family in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Chrismas Day 2006. The actors spent the holiday with Colombian refugees in the Costa Rican capital. Costa Rica is the home for some 11,500 refugees, most of them Colombians.

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    Visiting Vietnam

    Pitt and Jolie spent Thanksgiving 2006 cruising on a motorbike, while touring Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Prior to arriving in Vietnam, the couple made a surprise visit to Cambodia where they visited a former Khmer Rouge death camp, now a genocide museum.

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  • Actors Pitt and Jolie arrive at the 64th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills

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    Supporting American Indians

    Just days after the couple attended the 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills on Jan. 15, 2007, Jolie's mother Marcheline Bertrand died of ovarian cancer at the age of 56. In 2001, Jolie and Bertrand, who had Iroquois ancestry, helped establish the All Tribes Foundation to support the cultural and economic survival of native Americans.

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    The Jolie-Pitt Foundation

    Through their Jolie-Pitt Foundation, the couple has donated one million dollars each to Global Action for Children and Doctors Without Borders. The couple's contributions also include $100,000 to the Daniel Pearl Foundation, in memory of the slain Wall Street Journal reporter. Jolie starred in "A Mighty Heart," based on Mariane Pearl’s memoir about her husband’s kidnapping and murder. Here they walk in Mumbai, India, on Nov. 12, 2006. They lived in India during filming of the movie, which Pitt co-produced.

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    Building homes in India

    Pitt pitched in to work with former president Jimmy Carter at the 23rd Jimmy Carter Work Project in Patan village, southeast of Mumbai, India, on Nov. 1, 2006. The project buillt 100 homes in a week for the underprivileged. Pitt helped put a roof on one of the houses with other volunteers.

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    Meeting with leaders

    In Jan. 2006, Pitt accompanied Jolie to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Jolie told business leaders to "stay focused on the issues." She urged them to "follow up on Darfur, to watch what is happening in the courts, to follow up on Nepal ... and on Afghanistan."

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    Touring Pakistan

    In Nov. 2005, Brad Pitt and Jolie (pictured here on Nov. 27, 2005, with Maddox and newly-adopted daughter Zahara, arriving at Tokyo's international airport at Narita) toured areas of Pakistan devastated by an earthquake. Jolie -- the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' goodwill ambassador since 2001 -- visited the 90% destroyed mountain town of Balakot in a "show of support for survivors of the disaster," the UNHCR said.

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    Live 8 2005

    Angelina Jolie and son Maddox were surprise guests at the Live 8 Africa Calling concert, held at the Eden Project in Cornwall, England, on July 2, 2005. Jolie, who was helicoptered in by concert organizers, was introduced to the crowd by Peter Gabriel as a great supporter of African causes. "We can fix what's happening in Africa," said the actress. "We do have the answers and the ability to stop them dying."

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That said, the magazines use copious amounts of ink speculating on new romances, especially in the case of Aniston. If she’s not secretly texting Pitt, is she dating Gerard Butler? Well they did do a movie together and he showed up in Mexico to celebrate her 41st birthday ... or maybe they're just friends.

These celebrities do take their dating lives seriously since they will be so publicly documented. Even Aniston’s ex John Mayer, who can possess a frightening lack of self-awareness, was made aware of this fact. He told Playboy, “I had a conversation about fame with Jen before we really stepped out in public. She said, ‘Do you understand what this entails?’ Two weeks later I had people outside my house. ... I knew I’d have to move to a home that had a gate.”

The Jolie-Pitts, in many ways, do live behind a gate. Their house in Los Angeles is exceedingly private. In public, they go to great lengths to blend in, often traveling by cab instead of the standard-issue black SUV.

More eyes on celebsSo if there’s little visual proof to be had of strife, where do the stories come from? There are two schools of thought. One is that the business has become a big game of telephone. There’s no longer one spy per magazine on every A-list couple — there’s an entire army of tipsters that come by way of paparazzi, tweeters and party crashers. These tipsters might make one innocuous observation that, once spread along the grapevine, is entirely blown out of proportion. An expression that might just fall under the category of “tired” or “momentarily not engaged in anything exciting,” becomes something like, “Angelina is bored with Brad!”

The other way of thinking on the issue is much simpler. “They just make up stuff to sell these issues,” said one person with close ties to the tabloid magazine business.

When a magazine spends half the year contending you’ve split, why not fight back? For the most part, the constant chatter is just that, and it’s not really fazing anyone. Where the game changes and you get to a breaking point like Brangelina is when the rumors become destructive.

Reached the breaking pointIt was confirmed Feb. 8 that Pitt and Jolie had begun legal proceedings against the News of the World, a Sunday tabloid and Britain’s highest selling newspaper.

An attorney for the couple said the newspaper had made “false and intrusive allegations” when it reported Jan. 24 that Pitt and Jolie had agreed to separate, to divide assets worth $320 million and had made arrangements regarding the custody of their six children.

“Once you cross a line where you’re hurting the family, and the rumors are no longer just speculation about two adults who are in a committed relationship, that’s when a big A-lister like Brad and Angie will take action,” said one publicist.

In the case of the News of the World report, it was the straw that broke Brangelina’s back, because it’s what set off a new round of speculation that even staid news outlets took seriously and reported. It’s one thing when another tabloid alleges an affair with a dialect coach.

But there is another way to look at the ceaseless attention, at least when it is mostly of the innocuous variety. Constantly being the subject of a headline or the face on a magazine cover goes a long way in maintaining relevance.

As they say, all press is good press.

Courteny Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com. Follow Scoop on Twitter .

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