Celebritology Live

May 24, 2012

Celebritology blogger Jen Cheney gabbed about the latest celebrity gossip and pop culture news making waves across the Web.

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Let's chat.

By the time you get this, it will probably be common knowledge that Baz Luhrman misspelled Ziegfeld on the big marquee at the beginning of the Gatsby trailer, but in case it's not....

I don't know if it's common knowledge, but I heard that. I didn't catch it the first time.

Sarah Hughes and I were wondering if he couldn't get the rights to the name. I also wonder if he's just messing with reality, as he is wont to do.

If neither of those is the case, I assume he will be fixing the error before the film's release.

Back when I lived (in the same building although we never met) with a struggling actor named Angelina Jolie, I remember (in my imaginary mind) telling her time to wait until you find the right man: have some children with him, buy some homes with him, and then see if things work out. I see she took my advice and seems to be marrying a nice man Does anyone know anything about him and if he has steady employment?

I hear he's doing very well for himself. That's the word on the street.

You (imginarily) advised her well.

is anyone there?

I'm here. I was late.

Things at work are a word I can't use in this chat, so it's kind of a crazier than usual time. My apologies.

Do you think the day will come that someone's sexual orientation isn't newsworthy? I know you had to write about it because everyone else was going to, but at least in the NYT article, it was included in the context of the subject of his choice of role.

I hear you. And I debated about whether to write it or not. The reason it was newsworthy, to me, was simply because he had declined to talk about his sexuality and his partner in previous interviews. And I knew people would be interested in knowing that he had finally said something, albeit in a very low-key way.

I also think it's important for members of the gay community to see that celebrities who have been quiet about their orientations are now owning it without making a fuss.

What I think, and hope, will happen is that people will be so comfortable acknowledging their sexual orientations that there will never be a need for it to be a story. We're not at that point in society yet, and I'm sure that actors like Parsons worried ealier in their careers that being more open could limit their opportunities. It shouldn't limit them, but Hollywood, and the world in general, is full of close-minded people. So it's understandable that this would be a legitimate anxiety.

But I think that anxiety is fading away. More people recognize that, hey, you can cast a gay guy as a straight man or a straight woman as a gay woman or whatever and it doesn't matter. They are actors playing roles and their personal lives aren't going to synch up with those roles in all kinds of ways.

"Things at work are a word I can't use in this chat..." Me too! I am so hoping nobody notices I am taking a little in-cube vacation to do some much-needed decompression with this chat! Thanks for providing it.

You're welcome. If one person decompresses as a result of this chat, I have done my job.

I like Tommy Lee and am not a Josh Brolin fan, so I'll pass on this one. What say you?

I missed the press screening for this, unfortunately, so I haven't seen it yet. But I like Brolin, and his attempt to be Tommy Lee is what interests me about the movie.

But I am not sure if I will bother playing catch-up. Reviews in general have been positive, or at least they were last time I checked.

Was it really bumped to next March because of conversion to 3-D or did they think there was going to be too much killer competition this summer?

I've also read that they may be adding new scenes, so I suspect there's more to this than a mere 3D upconverstion. Seems like they would have known a while back -- before claiming the June 29 date and basing a whole marketing campaign around it -- that they wanted it to be in 3D.

I am just speculating, obviously. But that's my thought. And yes, they also may have thought it would seem too similar to all the other action fare hitting big screens.


Jen, thank you for the thoughtful answer.

Oh, you're so welcome.

People often assume that any blog with the name Celebritology must just crank out celebrity-related blather without any thought behind it. But we do think hard about what we're doing. I decide not to publish stories almost as often as I actually publish them.

Do we still make mistakes? Sure. But we try to do this with some intelligence and consideration.

Sexual orientation will be newsworthy as long as *some* reporters feel it is their duty to out someone. See Will Smith.

Well, I don't know if that guy was really trying to "out" Will Smith. He certainly put Smith in an awkward position. I can see why you might think that, epjd, but I think it was more of an attention-getting maneuver than an attempt to out him. If he wanted to out him, he could have just asked him outright if he's gay.

That response would have been more revealing than a kiss. I think anyone might shove off some random person who tries to kiss them during an interview.

Well, most random people.


Jen, have you ever interviewed Will Smith? There is so much negative gossip about his relationship with his wife, but he's always seemed to me to be a down-to-earth, friendly, (dare I say it?) normal person.

I haven't interviewed him. I had that impression, too, although I think he's too big of a star with too much of an ego to be totally "normal."

But I always thought he seemed like a decent guy.

I wrote all about this matter yesterday, actually, complete with an online poll seeking your opinions about Mr. Smith. Voting in that poll is as important as voting in the presidential election.

P.S. No it isn't.

I thought I read in an article when he won an Emmy a couple of years ago that he was gay. It seemed widely known.

It was pretty widely known. It just hadn't been acknowledged in this way, in a story like this one. At least not that I can recall.

If I am wrong about that, I will certainly correct my post.

Not that I care about his orientation, but wasn't he dating his co-star (the one who plays Penny) right after she and the guy who used to be on Roseanne broke up? (You can see I'm not so good with the name part of this Celebritology thing). Or am I just imagining this? That's why I'm surprised by this news.

No, I don't think he was. That rumor may have floated around after Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki split, but it clearly was not true.

Maybe sometime you could do a column listing a bunch of the stories you chose not to publish!!!

But wouldn't that defeat the purpose of not publishing them?

... *some* celebrities make huge phony acts of pretending to be heterosexual when instead they're closeted gays/lesbians.

This is a great point.

I think stars who are already well-established, and who became established during a time when being openly gay was much less accepted, are the ones whose "coming outs" would be more newsworthy.

It's also hard for those who are supposed to be sex symbols, especially men who built a reputation, in part, on being desired by women.

If any of these people -- and I'm not naming names, but I think any accredited Celebritologist could figure out who come of them could potentially be -- were to come out at this stage, the public would probably condemn them. And the sad thing is, the condemnation wouldn't necessarily be about the fact that they're gay, it would be about the fact that, as fans, they would feel they had been lied to.

Once you start that lie and perpetuate it for a long time, it's really hard to back away from it.

But if you're upfront about it these days, no one cares. I know Matt Bomer is gay. I still find him beautiful to look at. I have no chance of ever having a romantic encounter with this man, whether he's straight or gay. So what difference does it make?

I thought this about Sting and his wife until I read about the lawsuit their former chef won against them. They treated her like absolute crap.

I have to say, I love Sting and also think he clearly has access to some sort of fountain of youth.

But I have never thought of him as down to earth.

Maybe that's why there is so much negative gossip. Because he seems down-to-earth, they feel they have to try to find SOMETHING.

Possibly. Negative gossip is an inevitability of being that famous, I think.


Too bad the UK Daily Mail does not follow your lead, Jen. Seriously, that is a weird publication. I used to think it was funny because it had some celeb pictures and news we don't have on this side of the pond, plus there's often tidbits about William and Catherine, but ... dang, there is some awful stuff on there too. I've stopped looking at it.

It is weird. I still look at it, but they have no boundaries at all.

I don't want to start a flame war, but I really have to point out that the "Sexual orientation will be newsworthy as long as *some* reporters feel it is their duty to out someone" comment is so High-horsey as to be unctious. Celebrity reporters, yourself included, are in the business of selling newpapers/magazines/catching eyeballs. So long as there is a demand amongst the rabble for news about a celebrity's sexuality (see, e.g., John Travolta), there will be reporters following those stories. few, if any, reporters, feel a "duty" to report on any given subject in a specific way -- they feel a duty to report on items that will draw attention, issue-agnostic. If you want to wring hands over the fact that we as a society can't make orientation a non-issue, blame the American public, who eats this crap up, not the people who are trying to make a living in an ever-shrinking industry for pandering to it to keep their jobs.

Flame war! Flame war!

I think epjd was talking about the dude who kissed Will Smith on that red carpet, who is not a traditional jouranlist in my view. I know epjd and I know she is not the high horse type. I would defend her in a court of law, although she's a lawyer, so that would not make a lot of sense.

However, you're right about the public eating it up. As a writer for this blog, I constantly have to weigh the newsworthiness of something vs. how much people will want to read about it vs. the kind of discussion it might generate vs., yes, what kind of traffic it might bring us.

I knew that people would want to read that Parsons story and I was not wrong. It's far and away the most read item in the blog today. I tried to handle it in a way that was informative while also acknowledging it really should be a non-issue.

It's a freaky, weird, delicate balance that often makes me angsty and prevents me from sleeping. But that's my job.

Jen, I liked your unscientific but inCREDibly important Will Smith poll. I hope somebody gets to Will and tells him that if he isn't more selective about his future rolls, he'll end up like Eddie Murphy. (And for the record, I'm with the 50% who'll only go if the premise interests them--movies these days are too expensive to go WILLy-nilly.)

I'd like to see him do something more challenging than all these sequels. He clearly has it in him.

Just taking a moment to send our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery to an amazing talent and pretty good all-around human being in the aftermath of his awful accident earlier in the week. (As an aside, any opinion on whether the pictures in the NYPost of him, bloodied on a stretcher, were too much?)

I think photos of anyone in that situation are probably a bit much, yes.

I wish him a speedy recovery, too.

On the whole, it seems like it is somewhat easier for women to claim a same sex orientation than for men in the public eye.

I would agree with that. Although, again, people still voraciously consumed coverage of Meredith Baxter Birney and Kelly McGillis coming out.

Again, I don't think anyone cares, per se. But I think people have an "Oh my God, you're kidding" reaction more often when the news involves an established star from decades ago that previously seemed to be, or actually was, straight.

The big story should be is that he has been with his partner for ten years. That is forever in hollywood. That calls for a parade.

Ha. Yes. I don't think his partner is in the industry, which may make it easier.

Aren't the British tabloids in general more..free-wheeling...than American outlets? Of course the hacking scandals may cool their jets a bit.

Yes, they are. That is true. But Daily Mail also does very well now covering U.S. celebrities. They are expanding coverage on this side of the pond as well.

Loved a comment Josh Brolin made about Tommy Lee in Entertainment Weekly to the effect that everyone is nervous around Jones because he's so quiet and stonefaced they're afraid something bad is about to happen. As for Will Smith, I like him but I saw him on Ellen (excuse--home sick and watching anything) and he talked about a trip to the White House with his family and he repeatedly referred to the President as "Barack." Man, there was a time when people would have said "The President."

That's so funny. When Sarah wrote her post about Smith's Obama ears jokes, I noticed that he had referred to him repeatedly as Barack. And I also found that odd.

I worked on the Hill for a brief period, and I learned pretty quickly that we called our boss The Congresswoman at all times.

If you could spend the long holiday weekend with one celebrity, who would it be? For me, the appeal of lounging in luxury at George Clooney's Lake Como villa sounds really appealing.

Oh, I love this question.

Is this an invitation to spend Memorial Day weekend at Mr. Clooney's villa? Because yes. I would do that.

Chat's almost winding down, but if others have good answers to this, send them through. We can include fictional characters as well, if that helps.

Well I for one think you are doing it well! Seriously though, I think the more these stories are reported and the more support they receive, the more welcoming an atmosphere it creates.

That's true. That's the positive that can come of all the attention.

Besides being ridiculously handsome, Mark Harmon has always struck me as being as down-to-earth as a man who stars in the most-watched scripted show in America can be. Why do you think he, his co-stars, and NCIS itself are consistently snubbed come awards time?

I like Mark Harmon. I paid full-price to see "Summer School" back in the day, and he was part of the reason.

I don't watch NCIS, though. Most of the crime procedurals don't get much awards attention. There are occasional exceptions -- Mariska Hargitay got a couple of Emmy nods and a Globe for "SVU," for example. But in general they are ignored.

Were you allowed to look at her directly in the eyes when speaking to her?

Honestly, I don't think she cared one way or the other what we called her.

It was more the protocol in our office and on the Hill in general. Our boss, the legislative director, used her first name in conversation, so I started to. Then a friend was like, yeah, the rest of us don't really do that. It's more out of respect.

It's like when you call your parents' friends Mr. and Mrs. so-and-s0. Which most kids don't even do anymore, but I still do with all of the parents of my friends from high school and will forever.

Isn't part of the problem that the UK's slander/libel laws are very different, which allows the British tabloids to take some greater liberties with unsourced material than elsewhere, including here in the U.S.? Plus, it's a much different litigation environment, as well, kinda making for a perfect storm of sleazy celebrity reporting. Although, if memory serves, when a celeb can prove slander/libel (I forget which is written and which is oral) the resulting civil verdict can pretty much bankrupt the offender. Interesting system for anyone willing to take the gamble on thinly-sourced/unsourced gossip.

That may be. There are still plenty of U.S. outlets who take that gamble all the time and still seem to be operating.

Hiking and camping with Ryan Gosling and his cute dog (the one who had the Mohawk)

Someone had to pick Gosling, didn't they?

All right, with a Gosling reference now made, I think it's time to wrap up. Thanks for the lively discussion, as always.

We'll do this again next week. For now, feel free to go to the blog and read about the weirdness in the new Nicole Kidman/Zac Efron movie.

Enjoy your weekends!

In This Chat
Jen Chaney
Jen Chaney anchors The Washington Post's Celebritology blog, The Post's online window into the world of pop culture and celebrities. She also frequently writes about entertainment trends, filmmakers and other Hollywood-related matters for the print edition of The Washington Post.

A Post staffer for more than a decade, Jen also can be seen reviewing movies on WETA's "Around Town," where she is one of the show's regular film critics. Last year, she contributed a series of essays to the book, "The Friday Night Lights Companion."

When she isn't blogging, at the movies or watching a television show, she's ... um ... probably at home watching a movie or a TV show.

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