Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds had a baby, and it exists.
That is essentially all the information to be gleaned from People magazine’s latest big cover story — even though the celebrity mag touts an exclusive interview with the new mom. For all the hoopla, there’s no mention in the story of the baby’s name. Or, you know, whether it was a boy or girl. Small details like that.
Weird, right? Generally, when a star lands a coveted baby-announcement cover, it goes like this: The magazine gives the star lavish publicity in exchange for a few choice details about the little one; often, the publisher hands over a big check for “photo rights” to a cozy snapshot of the happy parents cradling the VIP newborn. But neither photo nor baby details appeared in People’s story published online Wednesday — though the former “Gossip Girl” star appears beaming on a cover image alongside the quote “The happiest time of my life!” (plus a nice big plug for her lifestyle Web site, Preserve). It’s a little baffling, especially because it published a day after the New York Post and two of the magazine’s rivals, US Weekly and E!, asserted that Lively gave birth to a baby girl, citing an unnamed “source.” (True? Lively’s rep wouldn’t confirm or deny anything to The Washington Post.)
Hmmm. And in case you’re wondering if the online story is just a tease for a big reveal in People’s forthcoming print issue — a rep for the magazine acknowledged that, no, there won’t be any further details about Lively and Reynolds’s bundle of joy in the actual cover story hitting newsstands Friday. In fact, a close read of the story suggests that the Lively interview happened before she gave birth.
“We interviewed Blake recently and updated our story to include her happy news,” a People rep said in a statement. Asked why Lively didn’t dish about the baby’s sex or name to the magazine showcasing her on its cover, a publicist for the actress responded that: “At the time of the interview the information wasn’t available and still isn’t.”
Does this unconventional baby announcement mark the end of the once-booming celebrity-baby business? In the old days (circa 2007), putting a starlet and her newborn on the cover of a magazine was a coup for everyone, a story that could endear a celebrity to fans while juicing tabloid sales.
But now, thanks to social media, stars can bypass the magazines and just self-publish their baby news whenever they feel like it, as Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis did with their newborn daughter, Wyatt, in October. Meanwhile, magazines haven’t always seen a payoff for their investment in celebrity baby photos: In July 2012, People’s sales dropped to below average for an issue featuring Jessica Simpson’s new daughter; they had reportedly paid $850,000 for rights to the photos.
Perhaps it’s because fans knew that Simpson, an avid Instagram user, would start posting adorable pictures soon enough — no need to spend cash at the newsstand to check out the posed portrait shots.
So maybe People’s curious cover makes sense. Let’s say that Lively refused to give up any baby info because she’s going to post it herself on her Preserve Web site; that’s where she announced her pregnancy, anyway. People still gets to land an “exclusive” that they can hype as Lively’s first post-pregnancy interview, but they don’t have to shell out money for baby photos that may not sell anyway. Win-win.