Friday 23 February 2018

I do...again

Catherine Zeta-Jones sought help after stress of husband Michael Douglas's cancer
Catherine Zeta-Jones sought help after stress of husband Michael Douglas's cancer
Beyonce and Jay-Z

Declan Cashin

Given that the original announcement of the marriage between Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones caused so many of us to cynically arch our eyebrows -- so high, in fact, that they resembled McDonald's signs -- it's quite something that their unlikely relationship is not only still intact, but looks set to be re-affirmed.

News reaches us that Douglas (68) and Zeta-Jones (43) intend to renew their wedding vows in Bermuda over Christmas.

According to a typically loyal and button-lipped inside source, the couple -- who will celebrate their 12th anniversary on November 18 -- are planning on a "private affair" in front of friends and family, including their children Dylan (12) and Carys (nine).

"They want to put a few difficult years behind them," added the insider, and, to give the Zeta-Douglases credit, few would deny them a bit of a hooley given the crap few years they've had.

First up, in 2010, Michael was diagnosed with stage-four throat cancer, for which he underwent radiation and chemotherapy.

Such was the aggressive nature of the illness and its treatment that Douglas lost 32lb (more than two stone) in weight, leaving him particularly frail.

Luckily, he has since recovered and returned to work -- he's playing flamboyant Liberace in a HBO biopic due out next year -- but still requires monthly check-ups to ensure he stays in the best of health.

As if that wasn't enough for the couple to deal with, last year Zeta-Jones shocked celeb-watchers -- as well as earning praise for her candour -- by checking into a psychiatric hospital for treatment for bipolar II disorder.

The actress's publicist put the illness down to the stress of Douglas's illness, and that it was only of a temporary nature, though it still hasn't been made clear when the 'Chicago' Oscar winner was first diagnosed with the condition.

All of this would explain the couple's desire to reboot their marriage with a renewal ceremony. As the insider remarked: "This is a happy time in their lives and they're both looking forward to a new beginning. Hopefully, they'll get to spend many more years together."

However, the ceremony might not just be a way of moving on from a tricky few years. It also might serve as a kind of exorcism to banish the more unpleasant memories of their first nuptials.

You might recall back in 2000 that Douglas and Zeta-Jones chose to sue 'Hello!' after the magazine published an unauthorised picture of their wedding day for which rival 'OK!' had the exclusive rights -- paid for to the amount of £1m (e1.2m) apparently.

The couple claimed that their human right to privacy had been violated, and indeed 'OK!' won a 2003 court case over its rival, only for it to be overturned in 2005, and lastly rewarded by the British House of Lords with a partial ruling in its favour two years later.

After the original 2003 hearing, the Douglases were paid almost £15,000 (€18,500) in damages to compensate the actress, who said she felt "devastated" and "violated" by the "unflattering" paparazzi pictures.

It's probably safe to assume, therefore, that any images that might emerge of their renewal ceremony will be strictly vetted by the couple themselves.

Though it's easy to be cynical about married stars' renewal ceremonies, it's a far more heartening vista to behold than, say, the sight of Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman splitting up after 30 seemingly happy, well-matched years together.

Considering that this rather upsetting news comes just a few years after other apparent 'lifers', such as Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, broke up, some might say we need the likes of Douglas and Zeta-Jones to prove to us that lasting celebrity love is possible, despite, or perhaps because of, their 25-year age gap.

Still, without meaning to pee on the pair's parade, there is a mixed precedent in this area that has often proved that vow renewals only go so far in terms of bolstering a relationship.

Douglas and Zeta-Jones would doubtless be displeased to be placed in the same company as Kim Kardashian, who can now add 'wedding vows renewal' to the growing list of things -- marriage, television, celebrity, life -- that she seems determined to cheapen and debase.

Yes, Kim and her ex-husband Kris Humphries -- who, remember, were married for just 72 days, during which they're believed to have banked some $18m (€13.8m) in various media deals -- held a renewal ceremony on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show a month into their 'marriage'.

With the comedienne host acting as officiant, Kris told Kim that he would "love you and honour you and keep up with you", while for her part Kim promised to always put her husband first, "or at least above [sisters] Khloe, but below Kourtney".

Oh, it was all so funny and staged, though hardly more of a sham or a joke than their wedding ceremony, which itself played out in full for the Kardashians' Armageddon- baiting reality TV show.

While that was undoubtedly a low point in the history of starry renewal ceremonies, other attempts have proved equally doomed.

Take singer Seal and model Heidi Klum, who are currently locked in an increasingly bitter divorce battle after calling an end to their seven-year marriage earlier this year.

During their marriage, the couple marked each wedding anniversary with an extravagant wedding renewal ceremony in front of family and friends, each one themed along the lines of classy black and white one year, and cheesy retro another, for which Seal donned a mullet and Heidi sported Bo Derek-esque cornrows in her hair.

"Each year, Heidi and I get remarried," Seal said in a 2010 interview. "It's a great party, but for about an hour, we go off on our own down to a private beach. We sit there with the kids and read vows to each other as the sun sets. It's a very special moment to us." Ah, what innocent times.

Similarly, back in 2010, Jennifer Lopez decided to stage an elaborate Art-Deco-themed wedding redux with then-husband Marc Anthony on the occasion of their sixth anniversary.

J-Lo organised the bash in their Hidden Hills home, with guests that included Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and the (former) couple that you want at every shindig, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

"We realised the bets in Vegas [on how long we'd last] stopped at five years, so we're really looking forward to this one," Anthony joked hubristically at the time.

The couple had already twice renewed their vows by that point -- jeez, talk about the lady doth protest too much -- but within a year Lopez and Anthony had split.

However, before you despair entirely, there are some happier instances of renewal ceremonies not serving as just another stop on the way to celebrity divorce court (now there's an idea for a reality TV show) -- at least, not yet anyway.

In 2008, David Beckham surprised wife Victoria (that's if the blank screen we call Posh's visage can register an emotion like surprise, that is) by asking her to marry him again on their ninth wedding anniversary.

The couple originally wed here in Luttrellstown Castle, but the second time round the Beckhams (re)exchanged vows in Paris. What's more, David did all the organising -- and Posh knew nothing about it.

"The most romantic thing I've ever done was probably when we renewed our wedding vows. It was a whole surprise," Becks later said in an admission that melted away whatever few pairs of knickers his female (and male) fans were still wearing.

"I had a dress ready for her to change into on the plane. I picked the dress. I picked everything. It was just a simple white Dolce and Gabbana dress, I think."

Ugh, don't they just make you sick?

Paris was also the location of choice for a wedding rehash for Mariah Carey and her fella Nick Cannon earlier this year (they married in secret in the Bahamas in 2008).

Naturally, this being Mariah, her ceremony had to take place on top of the Eiffel Tower, followed by a romantic dinner in a nearby five-star restaurant overlooking the monument (though, for the purposes of this occasion, it should be said that the Eiffel Tower was overlooking American landmark Mariah).

"Tonight was an incredible night," she tweeted later that evening, because, as a modern lass like Mariah full well knows, no experience or feeling really exists unless and until it's proclaimed on social media.

"I can't express how amazing it was to renew our vows in Paris at the top of the Eiffel Tower."

Meanwhile, shy, low-key celebrity couple Beyonce and Jay-z also marked their fourth anniversary this year -- not to mention the birth of their first Messiah ... apologies, we mean 'daughter', Blue Ivy -- with a midnight renewal ceremony in which they exchanged new gold bling because ... well, why the hell not? Their combined wealth is around $350m (€270m), after all.

This being an intimate affair, the guests included the couple's baby daughter, Will and Jada Smith -- oh, and Oprah Winfrey.

A crafty move there, you'll agree. After all, if you're going to shake your pals down for a second wedding present, you'd be a fool not to invite a famously generous billionaire who likes nothing more than dispensing largesse.

That Beyonce will run the world yet.

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