Many people these days are placing their bets on the demise of the marriage of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett, but only two have calculated it with the cunning of a blackjack card-counter. That would be New York Times science reporter John Tierney and statistician Garth Sundem, who paired up five years ago to devise a scientific formula for predicting whether celebrity marriages will last. Does it work? Well, Will and Jada just might be the test case.
The Sundem/Tierney Unified Celebrity Theory correctly predicted, years in advance, the breakups of Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock, and Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. It also blessed the still-solid marriages of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, and Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso. However, the formula fell flat when it came to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, whose marriage flied in the face of science and failed to fail.
So where do Will and Jada fit in? The equation predicted they would not make it to their 15th anniversary in December 2012. So stay tuned. The future of celebrity science may hang in the balance.
Fame by numbers
In the meantime, Tierney and Sundem recently revealed an updated equation, saying they have “crunched the numbers and discovered a better way to gauge the toxic effects of celebrity.”
The formula still covers a wide range of variables including a sex-symbol factor based on the typical attire (or lack thereof) of a woman as they affect Google hits. However, there is a new take on the issue of the relative fame of a couple. While the old equation measured fame in Google hits, the new one uses the ratio of references in The New York Times to references in The National Enquirer. “It is tabloid fame that dooms you,” Sundem concludes. “A high NYT/ENQ ratio also explains why Chelsea Clinton and Kate Middleton have better chances than the Kardashian sisters.”
Of course, most New Yorkers with divorce on their minds are more concerned about New York divorce law than New York Times coverage. New York may be the celebrity capital of the East Coast, but divorces of the famous and non-famous alike require an attorney with expert knowledge of New York divorce law.
Interested in learning more about Tierney and Sundem’s theory? Read the original New York Times article published in 2006.