As I reported yesterday, Angelina Jolie got the jump on Brad Pitt. She filed for divorce. Laura Wasser is repping her. And her side of the story about Brad Pitt’s alleged drinking and “anger issues” was posted on TMZ first, before noon ET, which meant that Brad had to scramble to figure out his next moves because he hasn’t had to take the lead on PR in a long time. When they were together, she handled that for both of them, brilliantly.
Angelina, famously, doesn’t have a publicist. Which is what makes her media game even more impressive. I experienced a small slice of that when I interviewed her for Maleficent. She personally reviews and approves her press requests. And because she takes that on herself, it means she understands how press works, how press has evolved. You can see evidence of that in how she delivered the divorce drop– not through the magazines, which is how she used to do it, but via TMZ, online, so that it would blow up, quickly, on social media. This is a master at work. Note how she skillfully accesses exactly the right outlets fit for exactly the right messages. When it’s health concerns, she gets two op-eds in The New York Times. When she’s sharing wedding news, it’s PEOPLE and HELLO! Magazines. When she wants to get out first that she’s leaving her husband, it’s TMZ. Who else can navigate that kind of media territory without a publicist?
Brad Pitt, like Angelina Jolie, does not have a publicist. For years he worked with Cindy Guagenti but around 2008 or so, he decided he didn’t need a personal publicist anymore, not when Angie was managing their brand so expertly. So…now what? Now that he’s no longer the beneficiary of her media savvy, it’s going to be very interesting watching Brad Pitt go about this on his own. Or whether or not he recruits help. And who he ends up recruiting.
Last night, Brad started revealing what his next play might be. And he’s going through TMZ too. Last night TMZ reported that Brad is “furious” at Angelina for taking this so public instead of doing it the way he wanted which was “low key”. Brad’s sources are saying that Angelina’s “scorched earth” approach is reckless, because she’s now put a “bounty” on the kids and jeopardised their safety since all paps are on high-alert looking for them. Their home in Hollywood has been surrounded by photographers since news broke yesterday. No doubt, this 100% came from Brad Pitt. He’s used that language before, referring to his family as a “bounty” for the tabloid press in several past interviews, including this one with NPR and this one in 2008 with Larry King. So, what he’s doing here is implying that he’s not the one who poses a danger to the children but that Angelina just put them in danger by inciting all this hysteria over their split. Ummm…I don’t know about this strategy. Because the way he’s making it sound, it’s like no one ever wanted to take pictures of his kids, like ever, when they’ve been having their picture taken for their entire lives…which is why he called it a “bounty” in the first place in all those old interviews!
This is not very smart. In fact, it’s straight up weak. Like, she leaks that you might have a bad temper and you come back with the paps want pics of me and my kids when they’ve always wanted pics of you and your kids…? THAT’s what you’re coming with? I’m not sure Brad Pitt can do this alone. I think Brad Pitt may want to rethink handling his own publicity. We’ll have a better picture of what that looks like when we find out who his divorce lawyer is.