J.K. Rowling, and a look at startlingly honest press statements

July 19, 2013

The “who leaked that J.K. Rowling was secretly the author of a new novel?” mystery was solved yesterday when British law firm Russells Solicitors admitted one of its partners was responsible. But this wasn’t just a vague statement — it went into plenty of detail.

“We, Russells Solicitors, apologise unreservedly for the disclosure caused by one of our partners, Chris Gossage, in revealing to his wife’s best friend, Judith Callegari, during a private conversation that the true identity of Robert Galbraith was in fact JK Rowling,” the statement read.

So much drama! Full names, broken promises, (presumably) broken friendships — this press statement is so honest that it’s startling to those who are used to the standard “He/she asks that you respect their privacy at this time,” or “We apologize for this error in judgment.”

The question is: Which is better? Get everything out there to satiate people’s appetite for scandalous information, or keep it vague and hope everyone forgets about it?

Take the case of folk group Civil Wars. The Grammy winning duo seemed ready to launch into superstardom until releasing a surprising announcement canceling a tour late in 2012: “We sincerely apologize for the canceling of all of our tour dates. It is something we deeply regret. However, due to internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition we are unable to continue as a touring entity at this time.”

The abrupt honesty seemed to stun people into silence when it came to asking for more details. Even more questions have been raised recently about the duo’s falling out, as they go around promoting their new album — Joy Williams said in an interview that she and bandmate John Paul White aren’t speaking right now, and it’s evident in a rather awkward video featuring the two. The candid and mature answers are going a long way — while people may be curious, the stories mostly focus on their music. Nicely played, Civil Wars.

Total honesty can also backfire: The Internet almost exploded last summer when “Twilight” star Kristen Stewart released a desperate apology for cheating on her boyfriend and co-star, Robert Pattinson. “This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I’m so sorry.”

The seemingly heartfelt statement took even the most seasoned celeb experts by surprise, especially coming from the unemotional Stewart. The fallout was extensive and ongoing, as people seemed to take Stewart’s rare, honest glimpse into her personal life as a license to openly, and wildly, speculate about what happened.

No word yet on how the Rowling drama, which appears to be complicated dynamic of work and personal lives colliding, will play out. But for now, it seems likely that it will be messy, and it will be public.

Emily Yahr covers pop culture and entertainment for the Post. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyYahr.
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Cara Kelly · July 19, 2013