In the Britney-centric universe of celebrity journalism, the most sought after star stories usually involve a little hooking up, a whole lot of breaking up and increasingly, knocking up.
“The celebrity reporting business boils down to the ‘Three Ups’ in life,” Access Hollywood's Michael Lewittes explained. “As a nation, we're fascinated by the ‘Three Ups’ because they are extremely personal moments in the lives of extraordinarily public figures. And, as opposed to having unfathomable money and movie star looks, each and every one of us, regardless of our outward appearance or social strata, can similarly relate to and experience the emotions that go with the ‘Three Ups.’ It puts us on par with the stars.”
But which came first? Increased reporting on celebrity weddings, divorces, and births or the public's appetite for the latest dirty laundry?
With so many outlets competing for the celeb-lover which lurks within all of us, the public has become hungrier for dirt on demand.
Society can get impatient waiting for the weekly tabs to give them the same scandalous info which they can nowadays get with the click of a mouse.
“It's really the ever-expanding Internet, with its immediacy and ease, that's fueling the flames of hot gossip,” Lewittes said. “Today, within seconds of a few keystrokes, a blog boldly dishes the latest dirt, while ink-clogged printing presses keep newspapers and magazines up to a week behind in the celebrity reporting race.
“And with the Internet's instant access comes quasi-addiction. Now, when one needs a quick fix on the famous, you don't need to be near a newsstand. You can sit back, relax and [venture online].”
Another factor? Stars don't seem to be looking outside of their own, somewhat claustrophobic, circles for a mate.
From Tom & Nicole to Tom & Katie and Brad & Jen to Brad & Angelina, stars definitely prefer to interbreed.
In the case of Nicole and Keith Urban, their marriage linked the worlds of film and music. And now, all eyes are on Nicole's tummy… (For the record, Nicole nixed any pregnancy rumors Wednesday, but fans can still hope!)
Supply and demand also has gone through the Malibu roof. When Hugh Grant confessed to Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” on July 10, 1995, that “he did a bad thing” the tabs gained some competition from mainstream news organizations who realized big money and big ratings could be gained by reporting on the intimate details of celebrities' lives.
But which type of story gets the most attention: a hook-up, a break-up or a knock-up?
“From the vantage point of a veteran celebrity journalist, the knock-ups are the least noteworthy,” Lewittes said. “There aren't a lot of questions. We [generally] know who the parents are, and then for many months there's no news until the birth, which starts and ends with reporting the child's sex and weight. There's only one angle — the baby.”
The hook-ups are more interesting, Lewittes told us. There are two angles, two parties to every question, which increases the fun factor.
But the break-ups are the best. And with the announcement Wednesday of Christie Brinkley's separation from her, yes, fourth husband, the recent list of celeb strike-outs — think Denise and Charlie, Chad and Hilary and Paris and … several people — adds even more fuel to the Hollywood Hills fires.
Still, like the Greek gods, America's idols maintain the qualities universal to all human beings.
“Despite actors and actresses having enviable beauty and bank accounts,” Lewittes explained, “The heartbreak that goes along with a failed relationship is one that's universally felt from Hollywood to Hoboken.”