Dollar signs are guaranteed to stiffen up interest in the limpest of stories, and so it proved this week. Apparently, the glorious, gorgeous, stunning, mysterious, sexy, charismatic and talented (etc etc) cracker that is Catherine Zeta Jones, has signed a five-year film deal worth $54m. Not bad, eh?
Not true, actually. The truth is Catherine Zeta Jones is very busy. The truth is she might have the vague potential to earn that kind of money in the coming five years if she got very lucky. The truth is, if she has a canny publicist who, uses the old Hollywood plant trick to sucker the media into reporting that this is what the wife of the influential Michael Douglas can command.
Upping the ante is no news in most businesses, but it’s always been hot copy among Hollywood hacks. It offers a chance to print big figures (we like those – they make things important) and yet another opportunity to publish a revealing picture of the glorious, gorgeous stunning (etc) superstar, superstarlet or could-soon-be-a-star.
But there’s a neat little twist to this tale, in the shape of a sly insinuation that Catherine “Pregnant in Traffic” Zeta Jones has decided to put reproduction on the back boiler. It’s a signal to the industry that she’s up for it.
Guess what guys – no shuffling round wearing a tent, no maternity leave, no nasty stretch marks, no bawling brats on set and none of that moody difficult girlie stuff that gets in the way of the shooting schedule. This is the real news the business wants to hear. The rest is big numbers to impress the proles.
Admittedly, pregnancy makes good PR, and a well-managed nine-month campaign can raise a girl’s celebrity stock value considerably (ask Liz Hurley). But unless the birth can be arranged to tie in with release dates, it’s not much use to the studio, let’s face it.
As a small sideline: at least one of the reports made some witheringly snide comments about the pathetic Jane Leeves. This other performing export could only expect a sad little sum of around $20m over the next three years. No comparison with our Catherine! Hey, my client is earning more than yours!
Definitely not. After all, Leeves’s $20m is for a cast-iron, no-strings, rock-solid, three-year guaranteed contract on Frasier. Catherine Zeta Jones’ $54m is one day’s conjecture based on the fact that she’s busy now, and doesn’t plan to get pregnant.
Finally, I note that the Sun is building up an impressive yardful of HGVs. First there was the band on a flatbed truck outside the German team’s hotel and now there’s the booze bus to ferry Harry’s lookalike to a selection of evil pot-dens masquerading as simple country pubs in the depths of rural Gloucester.
Who knows, they might decide to give South West Trains a bit of stick by putting the chief executive on a Supersoaraway Sun rail service (big buns available from the buffet – phwoar!) to show them how it should be done.