A love affair with the dirt on divorce

There's nothing Tabloid America resents like a quiet divorce.

We want celebrity breakups public. We want them messy. We want to turn on the TV and see courthouse paparazzi scrums. We want to lean over the checkout counter for tawdry details.


Cheating accusations? Yes, please! Good names muddied? If at all possible! Compromising photos? All that you got!

So, Kevin Costner, thanks for nothing.


Paul McCartney and Heather Mills? That's what we're talking about.

And already this summer, we're talking about quite a bit.

There's Christie Brinkley vs. Peter Cook, in court now and spewing more muck than a sewage treatment plant. And, though it's merely a suggestion of future divorce, tabloid hounds are sniffing and drooling over whiffs of trouble in Madonna's marriage to filmmaker Guy Ritchie. Suggestions that Madonna has been having an affair with New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez catapults the intrigue almost off the charts.

Will these marital unravelings be enough to quench a deep summertime thirst for gossip? Only time and Access Hollywood will tell.

But history can reveal what tends to give celebrity splits cover appeal.

Dignity? That's not it.


One of the biggest celebrity divorce stories of the decade belongs to Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston - and to cheating. The demise of the beautiful couple would have made headlines no matter what, but having Angelina Jolie hovering at the sidelines, cloaked in "other woman" status, exponentially heightened the gossip value.


Former America's sweetheart Meg Ryan's nine-year marriage to Dennis Quaid fell apart as Ryan's affair with actor Russell Crowe went public.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles' split had more than a little to do with his adultery with Camilla Parker Bowles. The princess also admitted to getting more than riding lessons from British army Maj. James Hewitt.

Alleged infidelity ratchets the Madonna/Ritchie situation notches up the gossip-o-meter, particularly this week as A-Rod's wife, Cynthia, filed for divorce, and paints the near-50-year-old Material Girl as the home-wrecker.

Brinkley's court battle, too, comes complete with lurid tales of her husband's affair with an 18-year-old who worked in his office.

All-around ugliness

When Heather Locklear's 10-year marriage to rocker Richie Sambora ended in 2006, he was quickly linked to Locklear's good friend, actress Denise Richards. The tabloids feasted as the women's friendship dissolved.


Meanwhile, in Richards' divorce from actor Charlie Sheen, nastiness hit ever-lower lows. In court documents, Richards described Sheen as violent and said he hired prostitutes and viewed both underage and gay pornography. Sheen, meanwhile, has called Richards' accusations a smear campaign against him.

Who can forget Liza Minnelli and David Gest's divorce battle, when Gest accused the singer of physically assaulting him and passing on a sexually transmitted disease?

When actress Renee Zellweger broke up with Kenny Chesney (also see "Quickies" below), she cited fraud as the reason. Rumors flew that Chesney was gay (as they had about Gest) and, later, that he didn't want to have children like Zellweger did.

When it comes to ugliness, the Brinkley/Cook courtroom brawl is holding its own.

Cook recently admitted on the stand to being a "gold member" of a Web site for sex and swingers and said he has spent as much as $3,000 a month on escorts and pornography.

Lopsided careers


The fact that Madonna's star and Ritchie's aren't even in the same solar system hasn't seemed to affect their marriage. Though if Ritchie is a jealous guy, no one would blame him.

The green-eyed career monster has certainly done in other matches.

Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke married after filming the movie Gattaca together, but the five-year marriage apparently hit the skids in part because Hawke's career flat-lined while Thurman thrived in hits like the Kill Bill movies. Hawke's rumored affair with a model during the final months of the marriage probably didn't help.

Jennifer Garner's first marriage to actor Scott Foley collapsed right as she hit it big with Alias. Once upon a time, when the two met on the show Felicity, Foley was the bigger star.

It wasn't long after Reese Witherspoon won an Oscar for her star turn in Walk the Line that her marriage to lesser-known actor Ryan Phillippe ended. She's since taken up with A-list equal Jake Gyllenhaal.

Chad Lowe survived Hilary Swank's first Oscar, but when she got the second, he had to go. At the time, gossip Web site Gawker said jokingly, "Sources close to the couple cited the reason as Chad Lowe being Chad Lowe."



Sometimes the length of a marriage - or lack thereof - can gin up a media blitz come divorce time. The brevity, apparently, deliciously suggests that something scandalous must have happened to call it quits so quickly.

Zellweger and Chesney, for instance, lasted a mere 128 days.

It took Nicolas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley just four months to decide to divorce. Presley lasted longer - 20 months - with Michael Jackson.

When Britney Spears got hitched to childhood friend Jason Alexander in Las Vegas, the marriage was annulled 55 hours later.

Profitable endings


Sometimes, one-half of a divorced celebrity couple leaves a marriage with considerably more than he or she brought in. If nothing else, these newly divorced mates manage to squeeze a little publicity for themselves from the reverb of the divorce.

Take Nicole Kidman - her career skyrocketed after Tom Cruise divorced her.

Mills may not have gotten all the money she asked for, but her bank account is still stuffed with millions from McCartney.

Al Reynolds, freshly split from Star Jones, scored an endorsement deal with UnderArmor.

Richards ended up with her own reality show on E!

And most infamously, two years and two kids with Spears earned Kevin Federline a critically despised album and an equally mocked rap song, "PopoZao."