Us Weekly

The average consumer is roughly halfway through the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. But if you're Bonnie Fuller, Janice Min and their ilk, it's been Christmas all year, thanks to Britney and Kevin, Nick and Jessica, and Brangelina.

Little has changed in the top three hookups and breakups of 2005 (aside from Nick and Jessica officially separating and Brad looking to adopt Angelina's children), which got me thinking: how hard is it to place a new spin on a recycled story, week in and week out?

I picked up the latest issue of Us Weekly and challenged it to tell me something new about the top couples of 2005. Breaking news: it's harder than you'd think.

Let's begin with the Britney and Kevin saga. The cover story fills pages with recent pictures of the couple (each alone, natch) and a timeline chronicling the downward spiral. I learned two things: One, Kevin has supposedly checked into the luxurious Beverly Hills Hotel and two, his $250,000 Ferrari was towed to a local dealership. If that were me, I'd be driving my Nissan to the nearest Travelodge (note to self: find out what I'm doing wrong, stat.).

Next stop, Nick and Jessicaville. Again, updated pictures are published along with space filler also known as a timeline of the couple's now-solo activities.

Nov. 29--Jessica has lunch
Nov. 30--Nick has brunch
Dec. 4--Jessica goes antiquing

What did I take away from this article? Divorce lawyers are being retained as I type, but it hasn't affected Nick and Jessica's appetites.

The feature on Brad and Angelina (3/4 of a page is devoted to copy - the remaining pages are all pictures... how can this be labeled a feature story?) didn't reveal anything new or updated. It did, however, show a copy of the filed adoption papers and brought in a handwriting expert to analyze Jolie's signature. "She has no problem taking the spotlight." Quelle surprise.

There's even a one-page comparison of Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston called "Who looks better," where 100 people in New York City decide who looks better in a dress or dressed down in jeans. (Hint: the "other woman" doesn't come out smelling like roses).

Us Weekly also reported its findings on some in-depth research--celebrity bra size. Because being built like a boy isn't bad enough, the magazine lines up celebs in order from the "A-listers" (Nicole Richie, Debra Messing and Nicole Kidman) to the "DD+" (Tara Reid and Pam Anderson).

My favorite section of the magazine is called: "Stars--they're just like us." We're treated to candid shots of celebrities doing ordinary things in an effort to convince us readers that we're all alike. For example: Keanu Reeves--he shops for DVDs (with an assistant). Russell Crowe--he plays with his kid (conveniently cropped out are the three nannies surely tagging along).

All in all, Us Weekly is a fantastic read when you're looking for a temporary escape from your everyday life. And according to Mediamark Research's Fall 2005 report, Us Weekly readers have an average household income of $65,169, higher than readers of Vogue ($60,432), Glamour ($55,260), and even People ($63,364).

Looks like everyone can use a release now and then.

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