Why Timing Is Everything When It Comes to Announcing a Celebrity Breakup

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Jennifer Lopez and Casper Smart are no longer a couple (Getty Images)

Jennifer Lopez and Casper Smart are no longer a couple (Getty Images)

Jennifer Lopez broke up with Casper Smart weeks ago, but we're just hearing about it now, on the same day Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas just happened to announce their divorce. Why?

Not now. Now is too vague. No, we're hearing about these heartbreakers on a Friday. That's the significant detail here.

Since time immemorial, corporations, celebrities, and their handlers have waited until the eve of a weekend or a holiday to announce bad news, hoping that our ant-like brains will forget all about the juicy gossip by the time Monday rolls around. The worse the news is on a Friday, the more memory-fogging beer they hope we'll drink on the following Saturday or Sunday. Or so the philosophy goes.

[Related: J.Lo and Casper Smart Call It Quits]

That's why, back in 2005, Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey timed their breakup announcement to hit right before Thanksgiving. The tryptophans, you see, from the turkey — they're supposed to make you sleepy. Docile. And, if the publicists are lucky, forgetful, I guess.

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Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey announced their breakup right before Thanksgiving (Getty Images)

Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey announced their breakup right before Thanksgiving (Getty Images)

"It's called newsjacking, and it's a textbook PR move," says crisis publicist Joe Cutaia, who worked with Sears in the wake of the Paula Deen race scandal. "It's something they actually teach at colleges these days."

Russell Brand must have attended that same class; in 2011, the comedian actually broke up with then-wife Katy Perry via text deep into a traditional winter holiday break; the couple announced their split right around the same time… and on a Friday, to boot.

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Russell Brand ended things with Katy Perry via a text (Getty Images)

Russell Brand ended things with Katy Perry via a text (Getty Images)

TomKat split? Friday announcement. Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins? The world learned of their breakup on Dec. 23, 2009. That would be two days before Christmas, of course.

And just today comes news that Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, together since before Twitter was a thing, are, well, no longer a thing themselves. Griffith filed for divorce today after 18 years of marriage.

 [Related: Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas Split]

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Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas revealed they were divorcing on a Friday (Getty Images)

Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas revealed they were divorcing on a Friday (Getty Images)

"If you want to sweep something under the rug," Cutaia explains, "Friday is the way to go."

Not every couple uses this tactic, of course. Sometimes rumors are swirling too thick and fast to wait for a Memorial Day or Easter. Eva Longoria filed divorce papers against Tony Parker on a Wednesday. Nicole Kidman suffered her breakup with Tom Cruise — publicly, at least — on a Monday.

And Sean Combs confirmed a split with "his love," Jennifer Lopez, on a Valentine's Day that fell on Wednesday. The year was 2001. He was in the middle of a publicity storm following a slew of gun-related criminal charges, and talk of a split was already everywhere. (The charges were eventually dropped.)

Then again, sometimes dropping a midweek bomb can be smarter than a Friday announcement, Cutaia says. It all just depends on what other news is breaking.

"A lot of people will release divorce or other, more entertainment-related fluff stories, when there is something bigger going on in the media, so that it all get swept under the rug," Cutaia explains. "That is super common, a tactic used all the time."

Or, if you're Griffith and Banderas, you pull out all the stops. Not only did they release their joint statement saying they had "thoughtfully and consensually" decided to end their marriage on Friday — but it came hours after sources close to Jennifer Lopez confirmed her split from dancer Casper Smart.

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Leslie Gornstein is an entertainment writer and the host of the weekly Hollywood gossip podcast The Fame Fatale.

 

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