Watching Brief: Catherine Zeta-Jones Wept Tears at the High Court Because She Had Been Violated by a Cake Fork. but If She Defeats Hello! Will Journalists Be Able to Expose Hypocrites in Public Life?

By Platell, Amanda | New Statesman (1996), February 17, 2003 | Go to article overview

Watching Brief: Catherine Zeta-Jones Wept Tears at the High Court Because She Had Been Violated by a Cake Fork. but If She Defeats Hello! Will Journalists Be Able to Expose Hypocrites in Public Life?


Platell, Amanda, New Statesman (1996)


When a woman stands up in court and tearfully claims she was violated, so devastated by an act of betrayal that she spent days crying on the telephone and years later had not recovered, you could be forgiven for thinking she was talking about the loss of a child or a rape. Not so Catherine Zeta-Jones, violated by a cake fork.

She was distraught about the Sun headline "Catherine Eater Jones", next to the picture of her husband Michael Douglas adoringly feeding her a piece of wedding cake. The picture had been run by Hello! magazine to pre-empt the rival OK! from enjoying Hello!'s [pounds sterling]1m exclusive.

One can but wonder, then, how ZetaJones felt the day after her high court appearance, when she woke up to the Sun's headline: "High Court Oscars. And the whinger is..."; or the Daily Mirror's "Ah diddums: Zeta squeals like a baby about privacy after flogging wedding for [pounds sterling]m", with a picture of her with a dummy stuck in her mouth.

Most of the broadsheets put the Zeta-Joneses prominently on their front pages--though the Times allocated just one paragraph to the sorry saga.

Only the Express was sympathetic to them--something perhaps to do with the paper's proprietor, Richard Desmond, also owning OK!.

Once again we have the Human Rights Act to thank for a fundamental threat to our freedoms. What, journalists and lawyers are now asking, are the consequences if the Zeta-Joneses win a legal right to privacy, separate from the existing law of confidence? Could the media ever expose another-Jonathan Aitken or Neil Hamilton? Could newspapers have revealed the hypocrisy of a back-to-basics Tory party and exposed David Mellor and Tim Yeo?

Zeta-Jones clearly failed to see the irony when she argued that "preserving my image ... is vital to my career". Perhaps the lass from Swansea had forgotten the power of the British mass media. Readers are also movie-goers, and right now she's about as much the nation's darling as Edwina Currie.

The most wicked moment came when Catherine flounced in with her [pounds]3,500 Hermes handbag and hubby sneered that [pounds sterling]1m was a pittance to them after all they'd suffered. In court, he was described as an "enigmatic Hollywood legend"--pretty rich for a self-confessed serial shagger whose most memorable line was: "Honey, she boiled the bunny. …

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