How the NFL might be responsible for the timing of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s paparazzi-free wedding

Hollywood celebrities Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie tied the knot this past Saturday in France, according to media reports. (Reuters)

Now that we know that Hollywood’s favorite couple has officially tied the knot, let’s talk about why Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt could not have found a more perfect weekend to get married.

Jolie is known for her savvy when it comes to the media and narrative-crafting. In fact, she’s the best in her business at it, and the fact that she does it without the help of a publicist just adds to her mystique. Jolie’s been known to cut deals with paparazzi to keep them from continually swarming her family. She harnessed her power as a newsstand draw by auctioning off the first picture of her newborns to the celebrity weeklies — then donated the proceeds to charities that fight AIDS in Africa. She even went to Namibia to give birth and avoid the press — the Namibian government was perfectly happy to deny visas to photographers and journalists hoping to lurk and get a coveted photograph of the Hollywood mama.


Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at the Cinema for Peace Gala ceremony in 2012. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Cinema for Peace)

With that in mind, we’d like to posit the great timing of her wedding to Pitt this past weekend was no happy accident, but rather her best chance to say “I do” completely under the radar. And who does she have to thank for that opportunity?

Why, the NFL.

A file picture dated 15 January 2012 shows US actress Angelina Jolie (L) and actor Brad Pitt (R) with a cane arriving for the 69th Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA. According to media reports on 28 August 2014, the spokesman for the Pitt confirmed that the couple got married in a private ceremony in France on 23 August 2014. EPA/PAUL BUCK
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at the 2012 Golden Globe Awards. (EPA/PAUL BUCK)

First off, the Hollywood press was fully occupied by the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday and the Emmys on Monday, two glitzy, star-studded events where the couple wouldn’t be missed. Pitt and Jolie are Academy Awards People. You can barely count on them to make an appearance at the Golden Globes without a nomination. Remember the time the Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated Jolie for a Golden Globe for “The Tourist,” almost universally regarded as a terrible movie that Rolling Stone called a “suckfest“? It was clearly a naked ploy to get Jolie — and her costar, Johnny Depp — to show up.

But back to the VMAs and the Emmys: Media-wise, pop-culture watchers were in the throes of prepping for back-to-back award shows. No one was really paying attention to the Jolie-Pitts holing themselves up at Chateau Miraval, their majestic estate in the French countryside, because it’s a summer tradition for them. Without so much as a tip that something was going to go down, no business-minded paparazzo would bother heading to France on his own dime for a virtually impossible shot of the Jolie-Pitts — certainly not if he had a much better chance of photographing celebrities behaving badly after award show after-parties.

(FILES) This file picture dated May 31, 2008 in Le Val, southeastern France, shows an aereal view of the Chateau Miraval, a vineyard estate owned by US actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, one of Hollywood's most famous and powerful supercouples, were married on August 23, 2014 at the Chateau Miraval in France, People magazine reported Saturday. The celebrity news outlet confirmed the news, first reported by the Associated Press, with multiple sources. The couple's six children attended the low-key ceremony, People reported. AFP PHOTO MICHEL GANGNEMICHEL GANGNE/AFP/Getty Images
An aerial view of the Chateau Miraval, the vineyard estate owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. (AFP PHOTO MICHEL GANGNEMICHEL GANGNE/AFP/Getty Images)

Also worth noting: Ever since Jolie and Pitt first leased Chateau Miraval in 2008 and then bought it in 2011, there has been rampant speculation they chose it because they could hold a wedding there in relative privacy. It does have its own chapel. But for six long years, the only union to come out of that place was between the grapes and bottles used for the family’s Côtes de Provence rosé.

Normally, the Emmys are in September, and they air on Sunday. This year, they were bumped up a month and to a Monday because of one thing: professional football. The big networks (NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox) air the Emmys by rotation, and this year, the duty fell to NBC, which is also the home of Sunday Night Football. There was no way NBC was going to dump perfectly good football money for the Emmys, nor bother putting it up against Monday Night Football later in the fall.

So that’s how we ended up with back-to-back award shows, the Emmys airing on a Monday for the first time in 38 years, and no one paying attention to Hollywood’s biggest couple.

Then there’s the matter of timing the announcement:

When Jolie wrote an op-ed for the New York Times announcing she had had a double mastectomy, the piece was published online late the night of May 12, a Monday. It appeared in the May 13 print edition of the Times. This was deliberate, as the Daily News’ gossip column explained:

“She knows the weeklies’ printing schedule,” one magazine insider tells Confidenti@l. “OK! closes on a Thursday [the week before] so they had no chance. The others close on Monday night at midnight, so they were out.”

Our source explains that only People, the most powerful and respectable of the bunch, has the option to go back in on Tuesday morning to reprint the entire magazine — which is expensive, but worth it, when it is a story as big as Jolie’s.

By waiting until Thursday morning to leak the news, the couple made a similarly sly maneuver. OK!’s Sept. 8 cover, which went to print yesterday, is completely absent of news of the nuptials — the cover story is one purporting that Beyoncé is pregnant.  Jolie and Pitt effectively nixed a cycle of breathless headlines and thinly-sourced stories purporting to know the details of their wedding. Without pictures or witness accounts, by next Tuesday, when most celebrity weeklies go to print, the wedding will be old news. Plus, having just 22 guests makes it much easier to chase down who blabbed and excise them from your life accordingly.

Actor Brad Pitt and actress Angelina Jolie arrive at the British Academy of Film and Arts (BAFTA) awards ceremony at the Royal Opera House in London in this February 16, 2014 file photo. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the glamorous Hollywood couple dubbed "Brangelina" in tabloid headlines, were married in France, according to media reports on August 28, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/Files (BRITAIN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt will star in “By the Sea,” their first film together since “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” (REUTERS/Luke MacGregor)

For years, speculation surrounding Pitt, Jolie and when — or whether — they would get married proliferated without abandon, like kudzu. Stories about the couple took shots in the dark: They’re definitely going to do it in the next fortnight! or It’s over because Angie hates that Brad is BFFs with George Clooney!  One got the sense weeklies were just throwing out theories to see if anything stuck. In the end, they were masterfully outwitted.

Still, all this carefully-orchestrated buzz is great for the Jolie-Pitts. They’re expected to begin filming “By the Sea,” their first film together since 2005′s “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” next month. They’ll play a married couple in that movie, too.

As for glossy covers speculating on the Jolie-Pitts’s impeding divorce? Give it a month.

Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on race and gender issues.
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