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A Look Inside the Convoluted, Highly Orchestrated World of Celebrity Breakups

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While painful, messy and often the impetus for gaining 10 lbs., the breakup of a relationship for the average person is typically just a two-party affair. When one (or both) of those parties happens to be famous, things get a little more complicated.

Contrary to what we may be told, celebrities are nothing like us. They don’t shop like us, work out like us and they most certainly do not break up like us. A celebrity breakup is a carefully executed business plan rolled out over a period of several months. The people involved include the manager, the publicist, the agent and members of the press. A celebrity can profit as much as $100,000 off a split and sometimes more. I have been intimately involved in the inner workings of celebrity splits for years as a gossip columnist, as the author of the book “Celebrity Inc.: How Famous People Make Money,” and as an editor. I asked one celebrity publicist (who wished for her and her client to remain anonymous) to break down the process by which a celebrity goes about calling it quits.

Step 1: Inform your people.
Before a celebrity tells their significant other that there are problems in their relationship they first tell their people. Think about this for a second. How would you feel if your boyfriend’s secretary knew about your split before you did? Now multiply that by at least 20 people. They tell their manager, their agent and their publicist. Those people in turn contact their minions and then gather together to formulate a plan.

Step 2: Build up good will.
Splits can get ugly. There is always the “he said / she said.” You want your star to bank as much good will going into a breakup as possible. This could mean singing at a charity benefit for victims of a natural disaster, visiting an impoverished country and handing out snacks or hanging out in a cancer ward.

Step 3: Make a media plan.
How will the news get out? Who will be the good guy? Who will be the bad guy? How much can the press know about the real reasons behind the split? The celebrity’s media team answers all these questions and more. A statement is written. It typically reads something along the lines of:

“After long and careful consideration on both our parts, we’ve decided to end our marriage. We entered our relationship with love and it’s with love and kindness we leave it. While privacy isn’t expected, it’s certainly appreciated.”

Because the split is so carefully managed, you can’t even tell your mom or friends you have broken up until this “insider” spreads the word. Your mom is likely going to be pissed.

The keys aspects are the “consideration,” “amicability,” and plea for “privacy.”
This works whether or not both parties are famous (versus just one).

Step 4: Inform your significant other.
This only happens after all the other parts of the machine have been carefully put in place. If both parties are famous the two camps will now meet in what can often be a weeks long negotiating summit to negotiate who gets to say what and when. Non-disclosure agreements are reviewed and new ones are drafted.

Step 5: Leak the news.
A friend or “insider” will typically leak the information that a split has occurred. Publicists from both sides will act surprised and then spend several days issuing the obligatory denials. They will finally confirm the news to a reputable news outlet and issue the before-mentioned statement. Because the split is so carefully managed, you can’t even tell your mom or friends you have broken up until this “insider” spreads the word. Your mom is likely going to be pissed.

Step 6: Gather your most photogenic celebrity friends
For a fun vacation and make sure the paparazzi take pictures of you having the time of your life.

Step 7: Rinse and repeat.
Within four months you are ready to start dating the co-star of your next movie project/co-host of a reality television show. Carefully time your first date to the release of your new movie/album and start the whole process all over again.

Jo Piazza (@jopiazza) is the author of the novel Love Rehab: A Novel in Twelve Steps.

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