On reflection, two earthquakes occurred in California last night.
Of course, the difference between the magnitude-3.8 quake in Southern California and the 'Kristen [Stewart] Cheats on Rob [Pattinson]' bombshell story published by U.S Weeklyyesterday – subsequently removed, then reinstated – is that the quake produced no damage and no injuries.
As shockingly candid pictures of Snow White and The Huntsman director Rupert Sanders, 41, and Stewart, 22, hurtled around the Internet, taken just days before loved-up shots of Pattinson and Stewart at a Bobby Long gig and at the Teen Choice Awards on July 22 - by day two, the "cheat" meme had gone nuclear.
Despite initial fan claims of Photoshopping, this scenario began to look less and less likely as radio silence from Stewart's and Sanders' camp continued. Today a devastated Kristen Stewart publicly apologized via People.
Stewart's statement said,
"I'm deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I've caused to those close to me and everyone this has affected. This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I'm so sorry."
"I am utterly distraught about the pain I have caused my family. My beautiful wife and heavenly children are all I have in this world. I love them with all my heart. I am praying that we can get through this together."
The economics of scandal has long since been a demonstrable money-maker. Witness both yesterday and today's media pile-on. Hot on the heels of U.S Weekly and People, E! Online ran a number of bargain basement stories, one of which asked, "Watch Kristen Stewart & Rupert Sanders on the Red Carpet: Were There Signs of Cheating?"
Reams will be written about the fact that Sanders is married to model/actress Liberty Ross and has two young children. From here on in countless retrospective analyses of Snow White promos can also be expected. So too can the inevitable flood of quotes from unnamed "sources" and "friends"of the quartet at the center of this firestorm; Stewart, Sanders, Ross, and Stewart's off-screen boyfriend of four years – Robert Pattinson, 26.
According to one outlet, Stewart's reps were pre-warned about the incriminating photographs on Monday June 23, which may or may not mean that was also when Pattinson was told the devastating news. Yesterday, damage limitation via People (again) quoted a source saying,
"Kristen is absolutely devastated. It was a mistake and a complete lapse in judgement."
"She wasn't having an affair with Rupert. It was just a fleeting moment that shouldn't have happened. She never meant to hurt anyone. She's a good person who just made a bad choice. "
Last night (UK time) Liberty Ross tweeted a series of cryptic messages, one of which was a retweet of a Marilyn Monroe quote – "Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together." Today, tellingly, Ross's Twitter account has been deleted.
But as debates rage and online polls ask who's to blame and many brace for yet another 'fairytale-romance-bites-the-dust-fest'; unlike the across-the-board media approval that greeted news of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruisie's divorce filing - coverage of the Stewart-Sanders scandal has been far from universally crowing.
Pre-Stewart's statement, in a rare example of restraint some media outlets held their fire. Preferring to wait for offiicial confirmation or denial, some contented themselves with opines about the need for caution before believing allegations. While others, straight out of the gate, called the claims false.
There may be several reasons for this.
In the case of Holmes and Cruise, the June 29 missive was a statement of fact not an allegation. No-one had to fret about legal comeback. Plus, public opinion and the media had long viewed the Holmes Cruise union with cynicism.
Couch-jumping and Eiffel Tower proposals aside, something had always rang hollow about all that endless gushing. The Scientology factor was just the clincher. When the oh-so-rapid-end came, it was easy to root for Holmes - heck, people were virtually hanging out bunting.
In comparison, the Stewart-Sanders revelations have left many not only bewildered and angry but disappointed and – to put it simply – just plain sad.
Unlike the Cruise and Holmes love-in, until this year there had been no clear declarations of love from either Stewart or Pattinson. Sure there were snatches: the "my boyfriend's English" remark in GQ, the endless pap shots, the Water For Elephants almost-kiss and so on, not to mention the palpable body-language present whenever 'Robsten' – as they were dubbed by fans and the press – were within 100 meters of each other.
But it was this year, 2012, that a decision to be open about their relationship appeared to have been made.
Paris fashion week, the Cannes Film festival, Stewart's on the record "f-ing boyfriend" remark in Elle U.S, Pattinson's defense of Stewart in Vanity Fair, Coachella, the New Jersey wedding et al - not to mention Pattinson's recent BlackBook Magazineinterview in which, using BB's conceit of a 'talking' heart, Pattinson answered persistent marriage questions thus:
"Even my own mum called to ask me if it was true." Then, out of quotes, but clearly signed off on - ['It's not. At least, not yet. But it is true that Kristen has always done something to me that others haven't.']
In spite of the obstacles that existed when they met – Stewart's previous relationship with actor Michael Angarano and Pattinson's alleged casual hook-up with Nikki Reed – the romance between the Brit boy who charmed America and the California indie-girl lit global imaginations becoming a real-life, obsessed-over love story.
We all read about the "chemistry" in the air when Pattinson auditioned at director Catherine Hardwicke's house way back in 2007; how Pattinson was dying to meet Stewart after seeing her in Sean Penn's Into the Wild; the Xanax story; how Stewart (then 17) picked Pattinson (then 21) from a stack of contenders for the role that would change his life - and hers.
A bonafide pop culture phenomenon beloved by millions not only for its story but for the actors at its heart, Stephenie Meyer's juggernaut series thrust both Pattinson and Stewart into the white-hot spotlight of relentless public scrutiny.
Undeniable fact: Stewart and Sanders are adults with free will and both will have to deal with the consequences of their actions. Some might argue who hasn't given in to feelings about someone and acted on them when they shouldn't, especially in their twenties? Just as understandably, others take a harsher view.
The pressure on Pattinson and Stewart - and for that matter, Sanders and Ross - will be intense now. Repairing the damage done to a relationship when trust has been lost is difficult enough when it's private. When it's public, the stakes and the road back to redemption are even steeper.
Ongoing plans for a Snow White and The Huntsman sequel may now be jeopardized if Sanders remains at the helm. Likewise Pattinson's all-important U.S promo tour for the much anticipated Cosmopolis kicks off in less than a month. And of course, in a few months the Breaking Dawn - Part 2 publicity machine will crank up in earnest.
Whether both or either of the relationships involved in this mess will make it out intact remains to be seen. For now, the story is dominating the entertainment news cycle as outlets gorge on a, seemingly, once golden, Hollywood couple.