Only a cynic would assume that every celebrity coupling is just a craven grab for publicity. Lots of celebrities pair off for the exact same reasons we all do—love, excitement, hot-weather randiness—and for them, craven publicity-grabbing is just a pleasant side benefit of their romance, like really great wedding presents. This summer, though, the white noise of hysteria around celebrity couples has reached a piercing pitch, thanks mostly to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (or Brangelina) and Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes (or TomKat). It hardly matters that Brangelina still deny the rumors (while posing half naked for conjugal-bed photo shoots) and TomKat got formally engaged about fifteen minutes after they met (presumably spitting out the proposal and acceptance through the maniacal rictus grins they’ve both now permanently adopted).
Flashbulb-friendly couplings date all the way back to Bogey and Bacall. Some pairings have been legit, like the crazy love tango between Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, while others were pure fabrications, as when a closeted Rock Hudson married his agent’s secretary at the studio’s behest. Cruise, in particular, has proved a modern master of the art form. The undeniably virile leading man wed a little-known Nicole Kidman in 1990, then enjoyed nine years and eleven months of delirious marital bliss, before their fairy tale ended just short of the ten-year mark, at which Cruise’s alimony obligations would have doubled. Ah, the roller coaster of love! And who can forget Cruise’s first wife, Mimi Rogers? Well, everyone, apparently, thanks to Cruise’s facility with PR voodoo hypnosis.
Given the Brangelina/TomKat mania, other stars must now be wondering which bit of well-matched arm candy could sweeten their own images and land them back in the spotlight. Nothing warms the public’s heart like a love story, even if it’s helped along by the script doctors. Here are nine celebrity romances that are just dying to be written.
Jude Law and Eva Longoria
What He Gives Her: A leg up over her fellow Desperate Housewives stars, all of whom are no doubt catfighting to make the leap to movies. And Longoria’s D-list boyfriends—like, say, former boy-bander J. C. Chasez of ’NSync—aren’t exactly suitable dates for the Oscars. Or even the Golden Globes.
What She Gives Him: Heat. Let’s face it: Law may be absurdly handsome, but seeing him on the arm of fellow perfect blonde Sienna Miller is about as sexy as a medieval frieze.
Potential Drawbacks: Both stars suffered from bouts of toxic overexposuritis in 2004, so together they might be headed for a relapse.
Proposed Nickname: Lawgoria.
Nicole Kidman and Jimmy Fallon
What He Gives Her: Kidman has yet to prove herself a viable romantic-comedy lead—her one successful comedy, To Die For, in which she seduced Joaquin Phoenix into murdering her husband, wasn’t exactly When Harry Met Sally. And come on—Bewitched? Fallon’s goofy charm and perennial bed-head might rub off and endear her to the MTV set.
What She Gives Him: Taxi flopped, and Fever Pitch barely broke even, so Fallon’s transplant from TV to movies is looking pretty iffy. Kidman gives him Hollywood cred, and a guaranteed date to the Oscars. Think of him as the twinkly Jennifer Aniston to her glamour-puss Brad Pitt.
Potential Drawback: Tina Fey will be sharpening the knives to carve them up on “Weekend Update.”
Proposed Nickname: Jimmycole.
Katie Couric and Charles Gibson
What He Gives Her: A rootsy, folksy man on her arm to reconnect her with Middle America. And this unite-the-kingdoms wedding of Today and Good Morning America would be like John Kerry landing John McCain as a running mate. Just don’t ask which one is V.P.
What She Gives Him: A chance to lord it over Diane Sawyer. Who’s the sidekick now?
Potential Drawbacks: The fact that Gibson is already happily married might nullify the whole reconnecting–with–Middle America thing.
Proposed Nickname: Divachuck.
Ted Turner and Jessica Alba
What He Gives Her: Does she need the publicity? She’s been on every magazine cover this year. But then again, so was Eva Mendes in 2003. A summer spent on Turner’s arm will ensure that when Americans hear the name “Jessica,” they’ll think Alba, not Simpson, Private Lynch, or that baby who fell down the well.
What She Gives Him: A public-image rehab after getting trashed in Jane Fonda’s autobiography. And it might convince people he’s not actually batshit-crazy.
Potential Drawbacks: Endless Viagra jokes from Leno and Letterman.
Proposed Nickname: Tedica.