News

Celebrity rehab warning signs

Barry Koltnow
The Orange County Register (MCT)

In medical circles, it is known simply as CHR Syndrome, and it threatens to infect us all.

Well, "infect" is a little strong. Let's just say that it threatens to annoy us all.

I'm speaking, of course, of Celebrity Husband Rehab Syndrome, the media-borne scourge that has taken the media world by storm.

It has become so pervasive in our society that, as a public service, I am passing along the contents of an emergency bulletin distributed by the Centers for Syndrome Control in Atlanta. Among the more fascinating items in the bulletin are the warning signs of this debilitating condition, and the steps you can take to avoid spreading the syndrome to your loved ones.

OK, the second part is easy. Stop looking at those stupid celebrity magazines, turn off the television and, whatever you do, don't read this column.

I told you to stop reading this column. If you persist, I have no recourse but to keep writing.

Here are the warning signs of Celebrity Husband Rehab Syndrome. Learn them as you would the warning signs of acid reflux or Girl Scout cookie overdose. Yes, it's that serious.

1. A sweet, beautiful actress inexplicably marries a jerk, and immediately proclaims her inner joy in finding her soulmate. She says it so many times that we actually start to believe her, even though we know in our hearts that something is terribly wrong with this picture. Of course, CHR Syndrome can attack in other ways. For instance, a sweet, beautiful woman who is not an actress can marry a jerk in golfer's clothes, but for the sake of clarity, let's stick with the sweet, beautiful actress who marries a jerk who is not wearing a Nike hat.

2. Some enterprising tabloids get an inkling of trouble in paradise, and gently inform us with subtle headlines like "SANDRA'S SHAMEFUL SECRET!" or "A HEARTBROKEN SANDRA WANTS OUT!" or "SANDRA HAS ALIEN BABY!" Most of us have a knee-jerk reaction to such headlines, and we pay no attention to those tabloids, even though they smack us in the face every time we buy groceries at the supermarket or pick up a bag of Cheetos and a giant drink at a convenience store.

3. A few weeks after the tabloids start their ferocious campaign to undermine this perfect celebrity marriage, some of the "respectable" media, including People and Us magazines, finally jump on the bandwagon. Newspapers will come kicking and screaming along a week later, and I don't understand why our circulation numbers are falling?

4. The sweet, beautiful actress goes into hiding. The media loves to say that someone has "gone into hiding," even when it might be that the actor or actress in question might have avoided going shopping on Melrose, or clubbing in Hollywood, for a couple of weeks. But, let's stay focused on CHR Syndrome. Assuming that the sweet, beautiful actress is married to a jerk, going into hiding is the first concrete evidence that the media might not be lying this time.

5. The jerk admits it, but immediately issues a statement through his wife's publicist that "this is a personal matter, and we hope that the media respects our privacy." Yeah, right. You might as well throw a bloody carcass into shark-infested waters. It is now a full-fledged media event.

6. A mistress is named.

7. A second mistress is named. Gloria Allred holds a press conference.

8. Media speculation runs rampant. Prenups are discussed. The titillating possibility of no prenup is discussed. Settlement figures are debated. Late-night TV comics have a field day. With the sweet, beautiful actress in hiding and the jerk in seclusion, there is nothing to slow down the media frenzy. Gloria Allred holds another press conference, reacting to speculation of outlandish settlement offers to the first mistress, and nothing for her client. It's getting vicious. It's worse than dog-eat-dog. It's stripper versus porn star.

9. Acknowledging publicly that the media is not going to respect anyone's privacy, the jerk admits that there may have been multiple mistresses. He confesses that he's been a fool, and that perhaps he coveted one too many strippers. At this point, the final warning sign is inevitable. Wait for it; here it comes ...

10. The jerk announces that he is entering rehab for sexual addiction/drug addiction/alcohol addiction — take your pick. If he makes the announcement personally, he may cry for the cameras, although it is not mandatory. However, it is considered tacky for his attorney to cry. There is no crying in celebrity attorney ball. The jerk thinks this is the end, but the media has just begun. The media hounds will stay doggedly on his scent for as long as the rehabilitation takes, or until the next jerk comes down with Celebrity Husband Rehab Syndrome.

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