Sorry to hear it's officially over with Brad and Jen ... seriously. Ordinarily, I don’t give a whit about celebrity couplings. I assume that movie stars who can remain married for the time it takes to go from one end of a red carpet to the other are considered soul mates in Hollywood. Anniversary celebrations are often held after successful fortnights together. Bride and groom usually exchange vows on their Blackberries.
But Brad and Jen were different, or so I had hoped. They were classier and more dignified than most. They didn’t cultivate attention, provoke the paparazzi or make a nation queasy with their high-profile antics. They seemed genuinely in love, and as a result they threatened to shatter the image of Hollywood marriages being institutions as steadfast as Enron and WorldCom.
Alas, it was not to be. After making their separation public in January, I was hoping Brad and Jen wouldn't end up in Splitsville. They had been wed only four and a half years. They produced several feature films as well as many episodes of “Friends,” but no offspring. They will probably divide their property evenly, in keeping with California law, which means instead of each being set for life a thousand times over, it will be only half that.
The pressures of celebrity undoubtedly are what tore their union asunder. When you’re young, beautiful, wealthy, famous and successful, you venture out of your luxury compound at your own risk. Temptation is as ubiquitous as billboards for “Desperate Housewives.”
There has been talk that Brad and Angelina Jolie had a thing going, even if it was only over the phone. Angelina on the phone is probably more torrid than 50 women just released from prison. It could be that Brad interrupted telephone conversations with Jen by using his “vixen waiting” feature once too often. A wife knows these things.
It seems Brad and Jen had some friction over the issue of children. Brad, 41, wants kids. Jen, 34, doesn’t, at least not now. She reportedly became angry when Brad pointed out that Angelina, who is 29, has been a good mother to her adopted son Maddox while at the same time pursuing a movie career. What Brad was suggesting, in effect, is that Jen should look at Angelina as a role model. Whether he was pushing for tattoos, a vial of his blood around her neck and an uncomfortably close relationship with a male sibling is unclear.
There were constant rumors about Jen being pregnant. Anytime she wore a loose-fitting outfit, people would congratulate her. If she skipped having a glass of wine at dinner, people figured there had to be a bun in the oven. If she was at a party and went home early, eyebrows would be raised that she was just resting for two now. I don’t think anyone would have blamed Jen if she rebelled from all the speculation by donning skin-tight outfits, drinking heavily and dancing until dawn. I know I wouldn’t.
But Angelina and pregnancy speculation couldn’t have been the only negative influences on their marriage. There must have been other factors that caused Brad and Jen to untie the knot.
Intense media scrutiny
The media must take some of the blame. They have hounded Brad and Jen mercilessly. If they went to a restaurant, they had to make sure there wasn’t some tabloid freak at the next table with a picture phone. If they made a public appearance together at an awards show or a premiere, they had to smile all the time, even if they just had a quarrel. Do you have any idea how hard it is to smile all the time? It’s not natural, except for politicians and game-show hosts.
The media has also scrutinized them professionally, waiting for one to go up and the other to go down, like in “A Star Is Born.” Fortunately, they managed to avoid that scenario, although I think we were all a little nervous when “Troy” was released. Maybe that film simply evened things out in their relationship after “Along Came Polly.”
It’s impossible to ignore the impact that “Friends” may have had on their union. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a fine show. I know a lot of people who loved it. But the six cast members were all such friends in real life that it created some awkward situations, the most obvious being that Brad had to go on vacations with Jennifer, Courtney Cox and David Arquette.
Courtney is terrific. But tell me, what does Brad talk about with David? Do they discuss their experiences in the business? If Brad recounts making “A River Runs Through It” or “Legends of the Fall” or “Twelve Monkeys,” does that mean he has to sit there while David explains how he prepared for his role in “Eight Legged Freaks”?
Both Brad and Jen are extremely attractive people. But Brad gets a slight edge, which must have been a source of resentment in their marriage. After all, Brad was the only actor ever named “Sexiest Man Alive” twice by People Magazine, while Jen was named one of People’s “Most Beautiful People in the World” once. Also, Brad had a stalker, a status symbol in Tinseltown. It was a young woman who, in 1999, entered his house, dressed in his clothes and stayed for 10 hours. The best Jen could boast is that David Arquette came by a few times and tried to convince her to make all her phone calls using 1-800-CALL-ATT.
It’s sad when any marriage comes to an end. The divorce rate in our country hovers around 50 percent. In Hollywood, it’s more like 95 percent. I thought Brad and Jen had a chance to be the next Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. But it didn’t work out.
Oh, well. I guess each can be comforted somewhat knowing that there are plenty of other fish in the sea. Famous, successful, gorgeous, filthy rich fish...