Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acknowledgment that he fathered a child by a household staffer is only the start of a still-evolving saga that’s left many questions hanging in the air.
• Who is the woman? Mildred Baena, a longtime housekeeper at the family’s Brentwood mansion, the New York Times reported early Wednesday afternoon, citing two unnamed “friends of the family.” (Her name first surfaced several hours earlier on gossip Web sites, including TMZ and RadarOnline.) The Los Angeles Times, which broke the story of the former governor’s out-of-wedlock child, has not named the mother, citing privacy concerns. Journalists have reportedly swarmed Baena’s new Bakersfield, Calif., neighborhood.
• Who is the child? Multiple sources have reported that he is a boy, now about 13 (and only days younger than Christopher, the youngest of Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver’s four children). (Schwarzenegger in his statement late Monday would only say that his indiscretion happened “over a decade ago.”) According to a divorce records reported by People, Baena separated from her then-husband just weeks after the boy’s 1997 birth.
• Are Arnold and Maria getting a divorce? Nothing been’s filed yet, but many suspect it’s in the cards. Once the couple officially announced their separation, friends told reporters that Maria had been unhappy in her marriage for years but had kept things together for the sake of her children and ailing parents (her mother, Eunice, died in 2009; her father, Sarge Shriver, died in January). In California, divorce courts are open, which means all the filings are available to the public and press, family law expert Steve Mindel told us. But an image-conscious couple, loath to air their private life and finances, would probably opt for a mediated and confidential agreement — the route chosen by Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan — to keep the messy details out of court. (People reported late Wednesday that Shriver has retained a prominent L.A. divorce lawyer.)
• What’s next for Arnold? Many showbiz experts doubt the latest developments will hurt his comeback plans. He’s already signed for two more “Terminator” movies, plus the starring role in the drama “Cry Macho,” and he’s partnering with comic-book legend Stan Lee on an autobiographical animated series for kids, “The Governator.” Schwarzenegger had also laid plans for charity work, speeches and advocacy on behalf of eco-friendly technology companies.
• Will Maria resume her television career? Funny you should ask: She appeared onstage for the taping of Oprah’s big farewell extravaganza Tuesday night in Chicago, praising the talk show queen for offering “love, support, wisdom, and most of all, the truth.” Much speculation that she’ll be a guest on Winfrey’s final show next week, or go to work on the OWN network.
What about their kids? In addition to Christopher, there’s high-school senior and sometime-model Patrick, 17, the subject of a recent Details profile; Christina, 19, a student at Georgetown; and Katherine, a USC student who recently published her first book. On Tuesday she wrote to her Twitter followers: ”This is definitely not easy but I appreciate your love and support as I begin to heal and move forward.”
• What’s next for the boy? A rough few months, no doubt, and uncertainty beyond that. While many media outlets are honoring his privacy as a minor, he’ll remain a top paparazzi target for others. Will he and his mother opt to go public with their story? Will Schwarzenegger, who is said to have supported the child financially, feel pressure to take on a visible fatherly role? Will he ever have a normal life?
Updated 7 p.m. Wednesday
Updated early Thursday