Showbiz shows oddly silent on Angelina book

Morton bio blackout blamed on fear of Brangelina backlash

The leaks from Angelina Jolie's upcoming unauthorized biography are swelling into a full-blown gusher, but you wouldn't know that from the entertainment news shows.

Even as St. Martin's Press moved up the release date of Andrew Morton's "Angelina: An Unauthorized Biography" three days to Saturday, such syndicated shows as "Extra," "Access Hollywood," "Entertainment Tonight" and "The Insider" have maintained virtual silence on one of the celebrity world's hottest topics. And it's not like these programs shy away from celebrity controversy.

SMP publicity director John Murphy offers a theory: Entertainment news shows worried about losing access to Jolie or Brad Pitt -- both among Hollywood's biggest "gets" -- are being intimidated into ignoring the story.

"The fear that might have been imposed on these so-called entertainment news shows by the Brangelina PR machine has got them running scared from the story," Murphy said.

As PR machines go, neither Pitt nor Jolie have particularly big operations. Both actors work without publicists, relegating press bookings and the like to their managers. A call to Jolie's manager, Geyer Kosinski, was not returned.

It's hardly a phenomenon without precedent: Kitty Kelley discovered that her latest unauthorized-biography subject, Oprah Winfrey, had allies at many high-profile outlets when she found her TV-interview options quite limited. Morton also has felt the cold shoulder before, with biographies on Tom Cruise and Princess Diana.

But what's new, Murphy said, is that TV shows fearful of alienating celebrities typically worked around interviewing biography authors by simply reporting on the inevitable prerelease leaks. The newsmagazines haven't even done that, while everyone from the New York Times to TMZ has seen fit to weigh in.

Even by the high gossip quotient typically maintained by these kind of books, "Angelina" offers no shortage of revelations, from the neglect she suffered as an infant by her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, to affairs with Leonardo DiCaprio and Ralph Fiennes.

Morton hasn't been met with a complete blackout; he's been booked on "Fox & Friends," "Inside Edition," "The Wendy Williams Show" and other programs both local and national. Murphy said he has yet to get an invitation by the morning shows but noted, "There is still consideration over there."

Morton has gotten radio silence at the entertainment news shows, except for one, which he declined to specify, that booked and then canceled him without explanation.

All of the aforementioned shows were in overdrive in the walk-up to Jolie's most recent film, "Salt," in which segments ranged from the usual fluff on her family, fashion and film career.

And that may explain in part some skittishness at going negative on Jolie: With her career hitting all cylinders, a sudden shift in tone courtesy of the book could strike a discordant note. The same didn't hold true when Morton put out his book on Cruise, who was already in a publicity down cycle because of his aberrant behavior.

Jolie's next film, "The Tourist," expected to be released next year, has her opposite Johnny Depp.

Reps at "ET," "Insider," "Extra" and "Access Hollywood" did not respond to requests for comment. A source at "Access" denied that there's been any decision made to avoid the Jolie book and that coverage might still come.

Another theory that could explain the kid-glove treatment for Jolie: Morton's next book. He's collaborating on a biography with Pat O'Brien, a former anchor for several entertainment news shows, and there have been reports that O'Brien would blow the lid on what goes on behind the scenes at those shows.

Could "Extra" and others be exacting retribution on Morton before he can punish them? Murphy isn't buying it; he says reports on the nature of Morton's next book are erroneous and that O'Brien's time at the entertainment news shows is not the focus.
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