It’s the story that keeps on giving. And between Us Weekly, People, Radar Online,Hollywood Life, The Daily Mirror, The Sun, Fox News, and Perez Hilton — just for starters — saturation reporting about Robert Pattinson, 26, and Kristen Stewart, 22, is doing its best to ensure it continues to.
Yes, for fairly obvious reasons media outlets are currently going all out to keep viewers watching and readers clicking.
Only problem is, Pattinson got out of dodge as soon as the bombshell news of Stewart’s affair with director Rupert Sanders hit — and apart from Stewart’s very public apology — it’s highly unlikely either of them are talking to anyone but their inner circle.
So what’s a poor media outlet to do? Enter the sources.
The long standing device of any self-respecting tabloid and these days — even above average non-tabloids — sources are used to keep a news story alive. You see the devil’s in the detail. The details are what propel a story beyond its original half-life.
And if no-one’s talking? Sources are there to plug the gap.
Alarmingly, this practice has even spilled into reporting on Pattinson and Stewart’s careers. Friday’s “exclusive” fromVulture a case in point.
Blazing the news that Stewart had won the prized role of ‘Peyton Loftis’ in the upcoming big screen adaptation of William Styron’s 1951 novel, Lie Down In Darkness , as it turns out Vulture’s scoop was a tad hasty.
As reported in The Washington Post, while Stewart is certainly “attached” to the role i.e in the frame, it isn’t a done deal yet. According to Jen Chaney a source close to the production told WP,
“While it’s exciting to see all the interest the project is generating, the film is still in the pre-production process and no offers to cast have been made as of yet.”
A later email from Stewart’s agent, Ken Kaplan, to The Washington Post confirmed the in-flux state of play.
“This movie is at a very early stage,” Kaplan wrote. “It is unfinanced and while Kristen is ‘attached’ to play the role, there is no guarantee that, if the movie gets made, she will actually do the role. All of the reporting on this is extremely premature.”
Translation: Stewart probably will land the role of “Peyton”, but the fat lady is still warming up.
In Robert Pattinson news, last Tuesday, Entertainment Tonight announced that the 26-year-old had backed out of an upcoming L.A press junket for his new film Cosmopolis. Less than two hours later that story was categorically denied by the actor’s publicist.
“Cosmopolis is a film that Robert is very proud of and looks forward to supporting,” the rep told E! News. “No confirmed engagements have been canceled. Any reports to the contrary are inaccurate.”
The real sting, of course, is that it’s not just the original stories where the source is used that do the damage. Once unleashed, these sources are repeated endlessly by scores of outlets. Erroneously endowed with credibility through repetition, most of the time the truth is anything but. This is how the entertainment media industrial complex works. This is how it’s always worked.
A Season for Sources:
RadarOnline: “exclusively reports that the fractured pair are embroiled in a bitter custody dispute, as they battle over their beloved adopted pooch!”
Further lowlights followed. According to Radar,
“Charlize [Theron] is absolutely fuming with Kristen for having an affair with Rupert,” an insider revealed. “She is very tight with Liberty, has often socialized with the family over dinner and cannot believe Kristin has done this.”
Radar’s “exclusive” that the couple were talking again.
“The pair ‘have finally started talking to each other again’ but ‘it doesn’t seem like he is going to forgive her any time soon’”.
“Kristen’s camp has said that it was a one time indiscretion, but that doesn’t seem to matter to her boyfriend. He ignored her “tearful texts” and multiple phone calls, but finally relented and has slowly started to speak to her again, but it may be too late.”
There was more to come.
“[A] source close to the actress told RadarOnline.com that she was ‘very confident’ she would be able to convince Rob to stay with her and the fact that they’re talking again is the first sign of their relationship on the mend.”
Immediate thoughts: Either Pattinson and Stewart have some seriously talkative ‘friends’ in their circle, or they really must stop communicating by speaker phone.
And who can forget the bogus ‘RPattz spotted drinking in London‘ story, jumped on by outlets after a random user on Twitter posted she had seen the Brit partying in London? Perez Hilton, just one of the outlets to run with the ‘scoop.’
And what if sources don’t just get it wrong, but actively manipulate a story to drive it forward? U-Haulgate anyone?
The appearance of removal vans outside Pattinson’s Los Feliz property on July 29 was reported in Radar and People, The Mail and even at IQ, as evidence that the end was nigh for Pattinson and Stewart. Us Weeklycounter-claimed that a source told them, “Someone hired the U-Haul and stunted the photograph.”
People magazine, who like everyone else have reported almost daily on the story used a source to comment about Pattinson’s alleged state of mind.
“The entire thing has been such a blow to Rob. Talk about having his heart ripped out,” a source who knows the couple tells PEOPLE. “Rob just isn’t going to be able to get past the cheating – one time or not.”
And we know this because? …
In another article People used a unnamed source to rebut the claim made by Rupert Sander’s brother-in-law Leopold Ross in The People (UK), that the affair between the director and the actress went on for “months.”
According to People,
“A source very close to his wife Liberty Ross and her family tells PEOPLE all quotes from that story are false”
“Contrary to inaccurate reports, neither Liberty Ross nor any member of her family has spoken to the media,” the source tells PEOPLE. “Quotes that are being attributed to the Ross family have been completely fabricated.”
The Daily Mirror (UK) claim a source told them,
“Pattinson is unconvinced [by Stewart’s apology] and is said to want to talk to Liberty, who’s been married to 41-year-old Sanders, father of her two children, for 10 years.”
The eager to help source continues,
“’A source told the Daily Mirror: ‘He [Pattinson] needs to know for his own peace of mind if theirs was just a fleeting moment. He hopes Liberty can help him find the answers to he so desperately craves.’”
Us Weekly, who broke the scandal on July 24, recently claimed that after Stewart’s July 25 apology,
“[Pattinson] read it online and was livid that Kristen is out there giving a statement and he’s the last person to know about it,” a source told Us Weekly. Meanwhile, another source told the magazine that Rob said he suspected something because Stewart was being “really weird lately.”
Laughably, Us Weekly and The Daily Mirror would have readers believe Stewart’s parents have been on the telephone revealing intimate details about their only daughter, reportedly currently staying with them. According to Us Weekly,
“[A] source said “They feel Kristen has really embarrassed herself and don’t blame Rob for not calling her back. This is not the Kristen they know.” And voila, it’s picked up by the The Daily Mirror, Perez Hilton and just about every other outlet on the planet.
Yet Radaronlineclaim Stewart is staying with Welcome to The Rileys film producer, Giovanni Agnelli and is not, in fact, holed up at her parents.
“[Robert is] heartbroken and angry, and sources tell the magazine that he’s been drinking and relying on friends to deal with the pain,” says PEOPLE reporter Carlos Greer.”
More recently, knowing that it’s highly likely Stewart won’t attend Robert Pattinson’s upcoming August 13, New York premiere of the much anticipated Cosmopolis, Radarconfidently report,
“’Security staff have been told to keep K-Stew, 22, away from the red carpet and after party for the Cosmopolis premiere on August 13, in fear she may use it as an excuse to speak with R-Pattz in person.’”
“’Despite the fact Robert and Kristen have been communicating by cell phone, she will not be at the Cosmopolis New York premiere,’ a source said.” That story was picked up in The Mail, New York Daily News- and the rest.
And so it goes. So many sources, so many claims.
The power of the source as an outlet device lies in their extreme probability. As Us Weeklywrote on July 26, (one day after Stewart’s apology),
“Hiding out since the news broke late Tuesday, Pattinson is “really depressed,” one source close to the actor, 26, tells UsWeekly. “He doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t know if he should forgive her or not.”
Sounds realistic right? So does this,
“‘Kristen hasn’t showered or changed or washed her hair in several days,’ the source told Radaronline.”
But is it a real quote, or just a construct fabricated by an outlet?
Journalism can be great. Incisive and important. And it can be horrid. An endless river of sources flooding the public slipstream, punctuated by actual statements from publicists when they’re forced to nip a false story in the bud. Will it ever change? Unlikely. It’s the nature of media to pursue stories and advertisers revenue. And it’s human nature to want to know everything about those things and people that interest us. Even when they’re manifestly ridiculous.
Notwithstanding the very real heartache that lies behind the headlines, perhaps Will Ferrell’s reaction to the whole affair best illustrates the PR and media-driven endgame this “story” has now arrived at. In the realm of the absurd, is satire the only sane response?