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Hollywood-style privacy

Meredith L. Cohen

Breaking up is generally never fun (unless you’re Revlon bigwig Ronald O. Perelman, for whom divorce appears to be some sort of hobby), particularly when it happens less two weeks before Valentine’s Day. And, when the newly broken-hearted have their every move documented by national and international photographers and newspapers, it’s probably especially unpleasant. Just ask Sheryl Crow. She and Lance Armstrong announced last Friday the dissolution of their relationship a mere five months after getting engaged and just a few months before they were scheduled to walk down the aisle. (To rub salt in the wound, on Wednesday, Sheryl lost all three Grammy awards for which she was nominated – including the Best Pop Vocal Album award for her latest release, “Wildflower,” which she has said was inspired by Lance and his three kids from a previous marriage.)To herald their split, Lance and Sheryl issued a joint statement to the press asking that their privacy be respected “during this very difficult time.”Funny that the couple who spent more than two years together – parading across the globe arm-in-arm up and down red carpets and rock stages (including Jazz Aspen’s 2004 Labor Day festival in which Lance and his son acted as Sheryl’s roadies, walking on stage mid-show to switch out her guitar), declaring their love on Oprah, cheering and kissing on Tour de France sidelines and finish lines, and gloating about their coupled bliss on late night talk shows and in countless magazines (including this month’s “Allure” in which Sheryl is pictured trying on bridal gowns and interviewed about her wedding plans and extra special alone time with Lance) – are now essentially poised to accuse the media of insensitivity for violating the seclusion they currently crave since they no longer have arm candy to flaunt on infotainment TV shows and in glossy star rags. Perhaps if privacy was truly of the utmost concern, Lance and Sheryl might have taken a lesson from former celebrity pairs whose hook-ups and subsequent break-ups were less than hush-hush. “Newlyweds” Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey filed for divorce in late November after four seasons of wedded reality TV bliss. Via a statement to the press, they, too, requested “privacy during this difficult time.” But despite their appeal, in the days, weeks, and now, over two months since the split, the couple has hardly been lying low and crying in their respective frappuccinos. Both have submitted (separately) to retrospective interviews on their marriage and have been seen (again, separately) at high profile events strutting and preening in plain view of professional shutterbugs. The only recent appearances the made-for-TV couple has refused to make are anything related to the DVD release of the final season of the marriage, er, I mean series, which brought them their fame and fortune.Preceding Jessica and Nick in high-profile splitsville was Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. The dazzling duo – who published their wedding photos in People magazine, professed their love for each other during televised awards show speeches, co-starred on the small screen and were frequently spotted getting his-and-her matching hair highlights – issued a statement to the press last year announcing their separation and asking for “kindness and sensitivity” in the wake of their divide. Apparently they just forget to ask the same of each other, as Jennifer suggested in a “Vanity Fair” interview a few months after the break-up that Brad was missing a “sensitivity chip” because he appeared in a 60-page “W” magazine photo spread with Angelina Jolie shortly after the puffy-lipped, tattooed “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” co-star took over the role of his main squeeze.But the granddaddy of all conspicuous couples will perhaps forever remain the pair formerly known as Bennifer. Two years ago, Jennifer Lopez’s publicist sent out a press release “confirming the reports that [she] has ended her engagement to Ben Affleck,” and asked that the media “respect her privacy.” Of course, as early as a few hours after their 18-month romance ended, Jennifer and Ben weren’t acting like people whose actions screamed that their number one priority was avoiding the long lens of the paparazzi. Before the tabloids even had a chance to re-type Jennifer’s statement for publication, she was at a popular West Hollywood restaurant speaking to an editor of US Weekly magazine who reported that she “wasn’t a woman who was heartbroken and crying in her plate.” Shortly thereafter, Ben mocked their relationship during his opening monologue while hosting “Saturday Night Live.” Like the Hollywood couples who would come after them, Ben and Jennifer shared with any media outlet that asked every detail of their engagement. They starred together in a music video and two films. They sat down for joint interviews in their home. And when they canceled their nuptials just days before the ceremony, they professed deep sadness and anger and blamed the postponement on the “excessive media attention surrounding the wedding,” saying it was everyone’s fault but their own for spoiling what should have been a joyous and sacred day.As recently as yesterday, seven whole days after their joint plea for privacy, Lance and Sheryl were back in the gossip pages. Sheryl, who declined all press interviews but didn’t shy away from photographers as she arrived at the Grammy’s, was reportedly spotted at a post-show party with “consoling friends.” Chances are she’ll need lots more solace in the coming days if rumors printed on Page Six of the New York Post are confirmed that Lance “won’t be deprived of a woman’s touch” in Sheryl’s absence because a Ukrainian-born masseuse who previously worked her “magic fingers” on him is rotating his tires again. Much to the delight of the national and international press, it appears as though yet another “sensitivity chip” has gone missing.Meredith Cohen thinks one local newspaper says it best: If you don’t want it printed, don’t let it happen. Questions or comments may be e-mailed to meredith_cohen@hotmail.com.


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