Hasta Luego, Marc

07.21.11

J. Lo’s Media Victory

Thanks to American Idol, Jennifer Lopez has never been more popular—and the gossip press is squarely on her side in her split from Marc Anthony.

A week after Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony announced they were ending their seven-year marriage, coverage of the split has been muy Lopez-centric. Although the actress-singer-dancer hasn’t spoken out, plenty of people have been willing to do the talking for her, leaving a public impression that Anthony’s intense jealousy and control issues and an alleged fling he had two years ago are mostly to blame for the demise of their relationship.

Lopez—who will be 42 next week and has otherwise had a great year thanks to joining American Idol—may be losing her third husband, but America’s new sweetheart is winning the media wars. The story has played out in more detail in the weekly tabloids than online gossip outlets, which offers one explanation for the one-sided coverage, said Melanie Bromley, Us Weekly’s West Coast bureau chief. The magazine ran the first in-depth story about the turmoil in the relationship strictly from Lopez’s point of view this week. People magazine has a similar take in the issue that hits stands today.

“The majority of our readers are female,” Bromley said. “So it’s single girls and married women that are reading our stories, and it’s Jennifer that they relate to. So we would do a story that’s more about how she’s feeling. It would be her side of the story that readers would be more naturally interested in. We try to be as balanced as possible, but our sources were in agreement as to what the problems in the relationship were, and they felt sympathy toward her and wanted to convey it.”

The general public may have been taken aback by last week’s announcement that Lopez and Anthony were splitting up, but those who track celebrity couples for a living say the end had been coming for some time. Bromley’s staff sat on a story about the couple’s nonstop fighting and Anthony’s periodic stays at a Hilton hotel for more than a month, waiting for the right moment.

When Lopez appeared at the BAFTA gala in Los Angeles on July 9 accompanied by her mother and wearing no wedding ring, Us Weekly’s reporters reached out to their sources, warning them a story about the marital woes was being prepared. But Lopez’s representatives beat them to the punch on July 15 when they broke the news themselves. (Lopez’s publicist, Mark Young, declined to comment for this article. Anthony’s representatives did not respond.)

“We have a responsibility, and it was a case where they would have an argument, he would go stay in a hotel, and then he’d go back to the house and everything seemed to be fine,” Bromley said. “And there were other reports of them being lovey-dovey and acting in love, so we didn’t want to report that there are problems in this marriage, and then they’re photographed on a red carpet looking in love. That would affect our credibility. And also, there are children here, and we have to respect that. But I could see this is a situation where we might lose the story.”

In the Spanish-speaking market, the breakup of the king and queen of Latin America has been the top entertainment story for several days. But Univision’s entertainment talk show El Gordo y la Flaca has been highlighting problems in the marriage for at least a month, co-host Raúl de Molina said. First, there were the issues with Lopez’s first husband, Ojani Noa, who is making a documentary about his relationship with her, using 20-plus hours of home videos and sex tapes he kept from their 11-month marriage. And then there were reports that Lopez had an affair with Cuban telenovela actor William Levy, who made an appearance on Real Housewives of Miami and starred in Lopez’s music video, “I’m Into You.” Both Lopez and Levy have denied an affair.

“We’ve been getting reports that this is a marriage that has been on the rocks for at least six or seven months,” says de Molina. “They were not getting along very well. And this is not the first time. About five years ago, we had a woman on our show who had worked at J. Lo’s house and said that they were very close to being separated. Then nothing happened. But I do think that those videos brought a lot of problems. They were battling this guy, Ojani Noa, who’s trying to do anything to get a dime. It’s horrible what he’s doing.” 

While many fans took to Twitter to express their astonishment over the separation (no one has filed for divorce yet), people who know them say they were surprised they were together as long as they were, especially because of the unfavorable circumstances under which they married in 2004. Lopez and Anthony’s rocky history dates back to the ’90s when the two of them became friends in New York City, where they were both born and raised, and dated on and off but denied it publicly.

“The truth is that a marriage breakup—and this is a terrible thing to say—can do wonders for someone’s level of fame,” said Us Weekly’s West Coast bureau chief.
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In January 2004, days after Lopez and Ben Affleck broke off their engagement for good, Lopez was spotted with Anthony, who was married to former Miss Universe Dayanara Torres and had two children with her. Five months later, just days after Anthony’s divorce was final, Lopez and Anthony shocked their families and friends when they tied the knot in a surprise ceremony.

Spanish talk show host Cristina Saralegui met Lopez when she starred in Selena and was immediately impressed by how self-possessed and hard-working she is. The two became friends and checked in periodically by telephone. But when Anthony’s ex-wife, Torres, appeared on Saralegui’s Univision show and wept about how much she had suffered at the hands of Lopez in her three-year marriage, Lopez vanished from Saralegui’s life. Torres also admitted that Anthony’s controlling ways—he didn’t want her to leave the house—played a big factor in the deterioration of their relationship.

“When Jenny and Marc Anthony got together, I had no idea,” said Saralegui, who kicks off her new Telemundo talk show next year. “I was very surprised. But then something strange happened, and Jenny stopped talking to me until today. She never came back to the show. Communications were broken, so I missed a lot. But knowing Jenny like I know her, she would never allow herself to be verbally or physically abused by any man. She is her own person, and now she’s retaking her life.”

Saralegui says she doesn’t know Anthony as well as Lopez but thinks he is a “huge talent with a lot of inner turmoil. I would always love to have her on my show. I don’t know about him. It’s just not about ratings. I’m a feminist, and I’m 63 and a grandmother. And I’m too old to be used. My doors are always open for her but not for him.”

That the sad conclusion to the union comes at a time when Lopez is again at the top of her game has not been lost on anyone. “They moved to Long Island and she turned into a domestic housewife,” gossip columnist and talk-show host Rob Shuter said. “She wasn’t releasing albums or making that many movies. And I think that when she was playing that role, the marriage was pretty secure. I can’t believe that with Idol, this new record, and [manager] Benny Medina being back in her life that this is all a coincidence. Something had to give—and that was her marriage.”

“Right now with American Idol and the money she’s making, I think she waited until she was set up very well to get separated from him because Jennifer Lopez was not doing much before, and I believe that Marc Anthony had something to do with that. But I think she finally realized, ‘I’m Jennifer Lopez and the hell with this.’ Don’t get me wrong. Marc Anthony is a great singer and a superstar in the Latin market, but he was known just in a few places, like New York City and Miami, in the U.S. Once he married Jennifer Lopez, then he was everywhere. So it helped him to get together with Jennifer Lopez, the most beautiful woman in the world, according to People magazine,” de Molina added.

Bromley agrees that Lopez’s timing couldn’t be better.

“I always feel personal sadness for these couples when they don’t make it work,” Bromley said. “The pressure they’re under, the stress levels of making it work in the public eye, is brutal. For her, American Idol has been a fantastic career move. She’s not just the diva anymore. She’s a mom and she showed how caring she can be. But the truth is that a marriage breakup—and this is a terrible thing to say—can do wonders for someone’s level of fame. And there was a time a year or a year and a half ago that this story wouldn’t be as big. It always would have been big. But it wouldn’t be as big as it is now because things weren’t going so well for her.”