World War Brange: on the record/off the record
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Seven weeks ago today, September 20, 2016, at 10:30am ET, a major date in gossip history – that was when news broke that Angelina Jolie had filed for divorce from Brad Pitt. Seven weeks later, it’s another Tuesday, and once again, Brange is making headlines, although taking up a lot less space considering there’s a much bigger story unfolding.
To recap quickly: some sh-t went down on a plane, Angelina filed for divorce, they started slapping at each other back and forth through their own sources, the FBI is looking into it, the LA Department of Children and Family Services was brought in. They recommended temporary custody to Angelina with supervised visitation for Brad. That recommendation was extended last month. On Friday, Brad filed a response to Angelina’s divorce petition asking for joint custody. And now…
Late last night, Angelina Jolie released a statement, on the record – her first official statement since that first Tuesday:
"We can confirm that childcare professionals have encouraged a legal agreement accepted and signed by both sides over a week ago. In accordance with this agreement, the six children will stay in their mother's custody, and the children will continue therapeutic visits with their father. This has been determined by childcare professionals to be in the children's best interest.
We are not in a position to discuss the details. We hope now that it is clear that the events which led to the dissolution filing involved minor children and their well being, there will be understanding of the sensitivity of the family situation. We believe that all sides are committed to healing the family and ask for your consideration during this difficult time."
So Angelina is saying, on the record, that she gets sole custody. That Brad has signed his name to a legal agreement that supports this. But Brad is saying, through sources, that this new agreement is simply an extension of the previous agreement while the DCFS continues to look into their situation and that he still fully intends to seek joint custody. His sources have gone to US Weekly, E Online, the Associated Press, PEOPLE, and more, including TMZ, of course, to dispute Angelina’s version of the story.
What’s confusing to me though is that, again, Angelina’s version of the story is on the record. That statement was released through Judy Smith, the real life Olivia Pope, who was brought on to Angelina’s team shortly after she filed for divorce. Brad did not issue an on the record rebuttal. Instead, his position is being presented through “sources”. When you release a proper statement through a representative, it sticks. It can be entered into the record. Countering that statement through “sources” isn’t so sticky. In this case, by comparison, it can be considered less “official”. If what Angelina is saying isn’t actually true, if it’s misleading, if it’s not representative of the actual situation, why not counter it with an on the record statement of your own?
I guess if you’re on Brad’s side you might say he doesn’t want to get into a public she said-he said with her, sure. But, again, it’s not like he’s maintaining a dignified silence. He’s sending out his “sources” to speak on his behalf, “unofficially”, to give the appearance that he’s above playing media games when, well, he’s playing them too, only the way he’s playing, he can always back-shuffle his way out of any accusations, washing his hands of whatever his sources are feeding the entertainment news agencies.
Or maybe it’s all about timing. The Allied premiere is this week. Angelina unloaded this statement right before he’s supposed to show up to promote his movie. A pre-emptive strike? Brad was not part of the Allied junket but he is expected at the premiere. It will be the first time we see him since World War Brange began. Now, conventional wisdom would suggest that he poses for pictures, stays silent, and heads straight into the theatre. Or, you know, he could step right up to a camera and take this combat to the next level. If that’s the case then, can he still claim that he’s keeping it classy?