By Jo Piazza for HowAboutWe
Why Celebrities Never Have Those Awkward Run-Ins With ExesEver wonder who the most important person in a celebrity's life is? It isn't their husband or their wife or their hairdresser (close second).
It just so happens to be the person who coordinates their schedules.
For the super famous this might be an actual scheduler, a person whose sole job it is to coordinate what time someone famous should be and where. For the less listed this task can fall on a personal assistant.
But before you think that this scheduler serves the same function as a Google calendar, think twice about the Sisyphean tasks inherent in organizing a celeb's social roadmap. Not only do they need to be at the right events at the right times, they need to avoid the wrong places at the wrong times. Part of a scheduler's job is avoiding potentially embarrassing situations for their clients. This means keeping them away from paparazzi when they don't want to be photographed, putting them in front of the paps when they do and most importantly helping them avoid their equally famous exes and their new love interests. Hollywood is a small town in a big city and if you aren't careful you can wind up between a rock and your kid's new step-mom.
One really wonders how Taylor Swift manages to ever go anywhere.
Last weekend the most famous romance rivals of all time, Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie were both scheduled to fly first class from Los Angeles to London. According to reports, Aniston had her flight changed at the last minute to avoid an awkward run-in.
How did Jen know Angie would be on that flight? Easy. They have people who know people who you just don't know. Part of a scheduler's job is having someone in the airline business who can give them a heads up for situations exactly like this one.
This isn't the first time Jen and Angie have been able to coordinate their distance between one another.
Back in 2011, Aniston got the heads up that Brad and Angelina would be walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes. Even though she was trying to push her comedy with Adam Sandler, "Just Go With It," she opted not to attend.
The genius behind Jen's schedule has their shit together. The Aniston used to frequent Hollywood's old school hot spot Sunset Towers on a regular basis with her ex-boyfriend John Mayer. They both still go, she with fiancé Justin Theroux and he with girlfriend Katy Perry. They are just never ever there at the same time. It is a little bit like magic.
Avoiding awkward situations is old hat in Hollywood, even for some of its newer members. Just last week RIhanna nearly ran into her ex-boyfriend Chris Brown with his new girlfriend Karrueche Tran at the Playhouse nightclub in Hollywood. But she didn't. Rihanna arrived just after the new couple left around 2 am. Serendipitous? Not really. She just had people inside who told her people when the coast was clear.
One former assistant who graduated to the position of full-time scheduler for a Hollywood A-lister explained a bit of the process to me:
"You plot out your client's calendar for the month. You almost always have a list of who your client does or does not want to see. Then you essentially become a detective. You put in calls to other assistants and figure out the schedules of everyone on that list and then you make the necessary adjustments."
Then there is the day-of due diligence.
"I would make friends with the hostesses and hosts at my client's favorite places. I would always call about twenty minutes before in order to obtain the all-clear," she explained.
Sometimes being at the same event is unavoidable. Sometimes you just can't miss the Oscars, the Emmy's or for young stars Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas, the "VH1 Do Something Awards" in 2010. The pair were both slated to attend the event soon after their split. Joe managed to arrive only after Demi had finished walking the red carpet.
That same year, director James Cameron had no choice but to face his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow at the Oscars when both were nominated for the Best Picture Award. Not only did they have to be in the same room, on the same red carpet and also at all of the same parties. He had to watch her "Hurt Locker" beat out his "Avatar" for the award. To his credit, James was a gracious loser and their publicity teams both knew how to spin the perceived feud. A picture appeared of James pretending to choke Kathryn at the awards. Deflect and make them laugh is typically the best strategy to pretend everything remains picture perfect in Tinseltown.
Their public reconciliation wasn't just well-choreographed, it was very obviously planned from the start. The truth of the matter is that the organizers of these big events work in tandem with a celebrity's team to ensure this kind of thing doesn't happen unless they want it to.
Stephanie Rosenbloom detailed the lengths organizers and publicist go to avoid run-ins on the red carpet in the New York Times in 2007.
Ronn Torossian, the president of 5WPR told The Times that prior to an event he "contacts other publicists and event planners to find out if or when one of his clients' exes will be there." He also reached out to reporters to give him updates about who has already walked on the carpet.
Celebrities have been avoiding awkward run-ins since Hollywood started minting its won royal couples.
Whitman College media studies professor Anne Helen Peterson admits that the Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and Liz Taylor love triangle (often referred to as the Brad-Angie-Jen axis of the fifties) took the most heavy lifting for publicists and managers to manage to avoid an awkward run-in, but one of her personal favorite is how MGM kept Loretta Young from Clark Gable after the pair had an affair which led to her pregnancy while filming "Call of the Wild" in 1935.
The studio shipped Young abroad during the pregnancy to avoid any run-ins with Gable or his wife, the Texas socialite Maria Langham.
Well, I don't know about "avoiding," but I do know there was a lot of awkwardness - like when Clark Gable impregnated Loretta Young (while he was married), and Young refused to get an abortion (Catholic, but not Catholic enough to avoid fooling around with Gable and Spencer Tracy), so MGM sent her abroad until her 8th month, let her come home and put her up in an apartment with studio-funded nurses, and when she gave an interview to the fan magazines (who were a little bit suspicious) they just propped pillows all around her and said SHE WAS SICK. Then she gave the baby up and ADOPTED it a year later….and continually denied that it was Gable's, even though the poor girl totally had Gable's ears. But yes, that would be awkward.
hThe most tried and true solution for celebrities to avoid their exes is to simply move away. Elizabeth Taylor spent half her life running around the globe to avoid living in proximity to her many ex-husbands. Tom Cruise is rarely in the same city as two of his ex-wives. Katie Holmes fled to New York City and Nicole Kidman resides primarily in Nashville.
Celebrities aren't just like us. Whereas we have no choice but to endure embarrassing run-ins with everyone who has ever petted our personal parts (I ran into two exes on the subway on Tuesday), famous people can pretty much ensure an ex is forever cast off into the ether of non-existence.
Jo Piazza (@jopiazza) is the author of the novel Love Rehab: A Novel in Twelve Steps.
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By Jo Piazza for HowAboutWe