Los Angeles, Sept. 13 (Reuters): They stay up late at night carousing and drinking — and keeping their wary eyes on each other. By day, they fidget, feed the rumour mill and interview themselves. They’ll probably be at it all weekend.
Such is the lot of the newspaper and TV crews who stayed camped out yesterday around the seaside town of Santa Barbara, California, undaunted by official word that the Hollywood merger of the year — the wedding of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck — had been postponed to avoid being tainted by a building media frenzy. Fuelled by scepticism and paranoia, legions of camera crews, reporters and photographers dug in for the weekend, just in case the photogenic Gigli co-stars should try slipping away to the altar in disguise or under cover of darkness. “Love conquers all, but usually it conquers it away from the cameras. So, one is left to speculate on what’s going on,” said Brian Unger, anchorman for TV’s syndicated celebrity show Extra. Or as columnist Barney Brantingham put it in the Santa Barbara News Press, trying to decipher the rumours has been “like listening to the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields, nothing is r-e-a-.”
Lopez and Affleck reportedly had planned to tie the knot tomorrow in a lavish, but private, ceremony before 400 friends and relatives. But as details about the event leaked out and the press closed in, the celebrity lovebirds announced on Wednesday that the media frenzy had become too much and they were putting off their nuptials indefinitely. Far from deflating public interest, however, the announcement only ratcheted up intrigue surrounding what had begun as a fairly routine media stakeout. Was this finally the breakup that was rumoured weeks earlier after Affleck visited a strip club' Or was it part of a diabolical trick cooked up by publicists to throw news hounds off the scent' Ben and Jen seemed to rule out the former scenario on Thursday with a conspicuous appearance together at The Ivy, a swank Beverly Hills restaurant where stars go to be seen.
That left an uneasy press corps at “Camp Bennifer” chasing phantoms in Santa Barbara, a quiet, picturesque town about 90 minutes' drive north of Los Angeles.