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 TomCruise 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.
Adrien Brody and Bebe Neuwirth
What He Gives Her: With the cancellation of Law & Order: Trial by Jury and the demise of Frasier, the country now faces a troubling shortfall of Neuwirth. Plus, a Tadpole-style May-December romance would be a satisfying, sophisticated subplot among all the lurid tales of Ashton, Jessica, and barefoot Britney.
What She Gives Him: After his feel-good Oscar win and Halle Berry lip-smack, Brody’s done everything in his power to fritter away the public’s goodwill: endless Diet Coke ads, The Village, palling around with P. Diddy. A fling with the sassy Neuwirth might remind people why they used to like him in the first place.
Potential Drawbacks: She catches him with another woman and snaps his neck. Then again, who wouldn’t want to see Bebe on trial for murder? It’s a real-life Chicago!
Proposed Nickname: Bebien.
Billy Bob Thornton and Serena Williams
What He Gives Her: If Serena ponders retirement from tennis, a crazy celebrity romance will be just the thing to ease her from sports star to bona fide “Page Six” staple.
What She Gives Him: A rejuvenating boost, given that most people think of him as the skinny, scarecrow-looking guy that Angelina used to be married to before she assumed her rightful place in the World’s Hottest Couple.
Potential Drawbacks: The vial of his blood worn around Serena’s neck might break during a spirited rally, soiling her tennis whites.
Proposed Nickname: Billybobena.
Hulk Hogan and Kathy Griffin
What He Gives Her: A shameless plug for her summer reality show.
What She Gives Him: A shameless plug for his summer reality show.
Potential Drawbacks: Offspring.
Proposed Nickname: Hulkin’.
Colin Farrell and Gael García Bernal
What Farrell Gives Bernal: With a handful of real-life celebrity lesbian couples out there, it’s time for a power-pair of males to step forward. Why not these two? This way, America will finally think of the talented Bernal as someone other than “the hot guy from Y Tu Mamá También. No, the other one.”
What Bernal Gives Farrell: The last thing the Irish party boy could do that would possibly surprise anyone.
Potential Drawbacks: Red-state backlash; lingering “souvenirs” from Farrell’s past dalliances.
Proposed Nickname: Farcia.
Jennifer Aniston and W. Mark Felt
What He Gives Her: Observers have offered up a number of new beaus—George Clooney, Chris Heinz, aging rocker Steven Tyler—to help Jen overcome her post-Brad retreat from center stage. But why not employ the nuclear option? Besides, this could be her last, best chance to wrest the spotlight back from that headline-hogging Brangelina.
What She Gives Him: The perfect antidote to the public’s ADD—these days, outing yourself as America’s most notorious informant buys you a week in the headlines, tops. But America’s most notorious informant and Jen’s new man-about-town? Besides, this could be his last, best chance to wrest the spotlight back from that headline-hogging Bob Woodward.
Potential Drawbacks: Manelike hairstyle, dubbed “the Felt,” sweeps the nation.
Proposed Nickname: Throatifer.
A defense of Tom Cruise in his time of troubles.