12/26/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Bravo for "Brangelina"

This story is really interesting. We read, "When Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt negotiated with People and other celebrity magazines this summer for photos of their newborn twins and an interview, the stars were seeking more than the estimated $14 million they received from the deal. They also wanted a hefty slice of journalistic input -- a promise that the winning magazine's coverage would be positive, not merely in that instance but into the future."

But is it true? Time Inc. says, "These claims are categorically false. ... Like any news organization, People does purchase photos, but the magazine does not determine editorial content based on the demands of outside parties." The Times added: "The New York Times recently ran a feature article about Ms. Jolie; there were no restrictions on access."

Way back when, however, according to the article, "People magazine bid successfully for photos and an exclusive interview after she gave birth to her first child in 2006. Those pictures sold for an estimated $4.1 million, a sum that she and Mr. Pitt said they donated to charity."

But I had some questions, and so I sent this to the Times reporter who wrote the article:

Dear Brooks Barnes:

I planned to write a little something about your Angelina story on Monday and I was hoping to clarify a couple of points.

1) Is there any evidence on either side about the deal with Time? We are left with two competing claims.

2) In the past, "Brangelina" have asked for the $ not for themselves, but for charity. I assumed this was the case this time as well. But I saw no mention of that in the article. Do we know whether this is the case?

Thanks for your time,


I asked these questions because I have to say, I'm a big fan of these people. I love the way they lay bare the manipulation of the celebrity media and do so in the services of unarguably good causes. I love the way they separate these rich corporations from their money and turn it over to Cambodian orphans. In the past, I've seen articles where the Times accuses certain celebrities of demanding money without pointing out that they were doing so for charitable purposes. (This happened, I recall, to Dave Eggers.) It's an important component of the story here and I hope it wasn't left ambiguous because nobody thought it important. I'll let you know what, if anything, I hear in response.

To read the rest of today's Altercation, click here.