March 21, 2010 in Features

Sandra wins all sympathy

Sandy Cohen Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Sandra Bullock
(Full-size photo)

Sandra Bullock reached the pinnacle of her profession on March 7, when she won an Academy Award. Her husband, Jesse James, was by her side. He even teared up when she went on stage to accept the Oscar.

Little more than a week later, amid allegations of James’ infidelity, Bullock canceled a planned appearance at the London premiere of the movie that won her the prize, citing “unforeseen personal reasons.”

But the brand-new Oscar winner isn’t likely to experience any professional consequences from this public exposure of her personal pain.

“If anything, it would engender a massive amount of sympathy toward her, and she’s already exceedingly well liked,” said veteran publicist Michael Levine.

Even the cancellation of her London appearance to promote “The Blind Side” shouldn’t hurt its overseas returns, he said.

“Ironically, it can actually bolster her fame,” said Karen Sternheimer, a sociologist at the University of Southern California who studies pop culture and celebrity. “She has tried to keep herself out of her career as much as possible. This development, it adds to her image as a sympathetic figure that especially women can relate to.”

Tabloid reports of James’ infidelity surfaced Wednesday and Bullock subsequently canceled her London trip. James apologized to his wife Thursday in a statement issued through his publicist.

Sternheimer, the sociologist, said that the infidelity rumors don’t challenge popular perceptions of Bullock or James, who has cultivated a bad-boy persona since his days on “Monster Garage.”

Longtime Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman, however, said the intrigue created by Bullock’s circumstances point to the tabloidization of mainstream journalism.

“I don’t think it’s really fair to her,” he said. “We could have given her at least a month to enjoy her Oscar.”

The birthday bunch

Singer Solomon Burke is 70. Timothy Dalton is 64. Singer Eddie Money is 61. Singer-guitarist Rodger Hodgson (Supertramp) is 60. Actress Sabrina LeBeauf (“The Cosby Show”) is 52. Actor Gary Oldman is 52. Matthew Broderick is 48. Rosie O’Donnell is 48. Guitarist Andrew Copeland of Sister Hazel is 42. DJ Premier of Gang Starr is 41.

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