by Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith
With the Ashton Kutcher
romance now burning up the tabloid pages, Hollywood cynics can't help noting that the pair are hand-in handing it around town just in time to gain maximum exposure for the relaunch of Ms. Moore's career -- and celebrity -- in "Charlie's Angels Full Throttle."
Is the relationship real, or a promotional ploy?
This isn't the first time either star has been the subject of relationship of convenience rumors. For Ashton, it happened this very year, when his now-defunct romance with Brittany Murphy blossomed just in time to enhance the release of their "Just Married" feature. Demi and her ex, Bruce Willis, suffered accusations that theirs was a marriage of convenience.
"The quickest route to power for an actress in Hollywood is to hook up with someone who can put you in a good position and make yourself into a sex object," Ally Sheedy, former friend and bridesmaid of Demi's, told Us magazine when the couple split.
J.Lo 'n' Ben, J.Lo 'n' P. Diddy, Madonna 'n' Michael, Michael 'n' Lisa Marie...the list of show business couples whose romances and/or marriages have been suspect for one reason or another is endless.
Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford, now each married to others, were so aggravated by rumors that theirs was a marriage of convenience -- one that was in trouble -- they took out full-page advertisements denying the stories in the early 1990s.
In 1999, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman won a suit against The Star tabloid, which claimed a sex therapist had to teach them to make love for the camera in "Eyes Wide Shut." The Cruises also won damages in 1998, after suing the British Sunday Express for claiming their marriage was a sham.
When Tom and Nicole split in 2001, the BBC reviewed their litigious history, and noted that "searching for sham marriages has been a Hollywood sport ever since Rock Hudson married his agent's secretary in 1955."
And indeed, in Hollywood, the land of illusion, that sport shows no sign of abating.
Anne Heche was accused of using her relationship to futher her career when her romance with Steve Martin hoisted her into the Hollywood A-list social world -- and was accused again when Anne took up with Ellen DeGeneres in one of the most publicity-generating affairs Tinseltown has ever seen.
Times have obviously changed from when the term "marriage of convenience" almost always carried a connotation of someone hiding their homosexuality. That sad road was taken by Tony Perkins and Berry Berenson, who maintained the image of a straight couple, complete with two children and a long-running marriage, despite the fact Perkins -- the "Psycho" star and one-time sex symbol, who died of AIDS in 1992-- was gay.
Elton John was legally wed for several years to German-born Renate Blauel in the 1980s. In 1976, he told Rolling Stone that he was bisexual, and the revelation almost destroyed his career. "A lot of radio stations didn't play my records," he recalled. Both those chapters of his life are long over for Elton.
Today, not only do we have stars (Rupert Everett, Ian McKellan) who are openly gay or (Alan Cumming) bisexual -- we have a virtual parade of femme stars burnishing their daring images with public same-sex encounters (Madonna, Drew, Heather, even the wink-wink, nudge nudge moment of tween queens Amanda Bynes and Hilary Duff holding hands at the MTV Movie Awards).
But still, Richard Chamberlain, who just came out as gay in his new "Shattered Love" autobiography, says that even now, it's risky to be out in Hollywood. "If I were a young actor, I wouldn't talk about it," he told USA Today. "I personally would still be leery if I were playing a romantic leading man."