x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Lopez's marriage failure comes as a surprise

Only a month ago Jennifer Lopez told the Daily Mail how happy she was in her personal life - now she is divorcing Marc Anthony.

Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez have split up after seven years of marriage.
Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez have split up after seven years of marriage.

It wouldn't be in the least bit surprising to see a cover announcing "as one celebrity marriage ends, another begins" in the glossy magazines this week, featuring Jennifer Lopez holding a child and looking glum, juxtaposed with Angelina Jolie looking radiant, Photoshopped into a stock wedding shot.

The celebrity magazines have been so desperate for the tiniest inkling that "Brangelina" might actually get married that their increasingly outlandish stories have become the subject of ridicule.

The latest "have you heard" is that the couple is definitely, absolutely tying the knot this September, in the south of France. Right.

But back to Lopez for a minute. The news that she was splitting from her husband Marc Anthony, quietly released on Friday, the same day Rebekah Brooks announced she was quitting News International, was a tad out of the blue.

It was barely a month ago, on June 11, that Lopez was gushing about her happy married life to the UK's Daily Mail.

"I'm probably the happiest I've ever been in my life, and my husband and my babies have everything to do with that," she said. "But like anything important in life, you have to work at [marriage], because it's hard."

Too hard, clearly. Fast forward, er, just a single month and Lopez was announcing the end of her marriage to Marc Anthony. Looks like the question mark on the cover of her new album, Love? wasn't a typographic affectation, but a veiled warning.

As changes of heart go, though, it was pretty rapid - even by Lopez's remarkable standards. This, after all, is the woman who told Oprah Winfrey, a year into her marriage to Cris Judd, that "he's like my peace... he just brings me stability in a way that I really needed". A month later, naturally, it was all over. Either Lopez is an absolutely brilliant actress (and judging by her performance in last year's timid sitcom The Back-up Plan, that's rather unlikely) or she gets cold feet very, very quickly.

The celebrity magazines have, naturally, talked of the "shock split" being a "tragedy" (although the UN relief effort is yet to swing into action) but the reality is that editors will be rubbing their hands with glee. J-Lo is one of the few bankable cover stars, and this is yet another chapter in the rollercoaster that is a celebrity's life in a weekly magazine.

After a respectfully brief mourning period (say, a week), the spurious speculation about her future romantic entanglements can begin all over again. Perhaps she'll be seen back in the arms of her former paramour Sean Combs (or whichever iteration of Puff Daddy he's currently using). She'll probably be sensationally spotted having lunch with some-time fiancé Ben Affleck, even though he's happily married. And so it will continue, an endlessly recycled torrent of gossip that appears to work outside of any known facts. And when those "sources" run dry, they'll just print another Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie wedding rumour.

The hugely entertaining US website Jezebel published "Brad & Angelina: A Seven Year History Of Rumourmongering" this week, and it's a brilliant, if rather sobering, timeline of the most hilarious tittle-tattle.

It goes like this: in 2006, Pitt and Jolie were planning a "fairy-tale Christmas wedding in South Africa," (OK! magazine). Undeterred that Santa Claus had come and gone without bringing wedding rings, OK! then decided that Pitt and Jolie's "wedding of the year" would actually take place during 2007, in New Orleans, with a "red velvet cake".

There was no marriage that year, but Star went one better in 2008, proclaiming that Brangelina had actually tied the knot in New Orleans. "They did it!" Star exclaimed, before sheepishly replacing the story with "did they or didn't they?" But the rumours continued. They were marrying for the kids ("It's Official!", OK!, 2010), they were marrying in a Hindu ceremony in India (London Evening Standard, 2010), they were marrying in a tropical paradise (In Touch, 2010). Never, it seems, have so many tabloid editors been so keen to see two people together, officially - and the more outlandish the setting, the better.

Last week, it started again. Wedding rumour number 14 - at the last unofficial count - began in UsMagazine, with a cover promising to tell us "why Angelina and Brad decided to make it official this summer". "Sources" say. In France.

So maybe Lopez is actually rather canny in feeding the tabloids the lies they want to hear. One thing's for sure, her next boyfriend should start getting worried the moment she eulogises about him.

* Ben East