Last November, shortly after Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria and San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker announced their engagement, Eva’s publicist, a frenetic woman named Liza Anderson, went to work. With the teacup Yorkie she describes as “my son” scampering about, Anderson got on the phone from her sunny, cramped office on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood and began negotiating with various publications to sell exclusive coverage of the wedding. Hello! was interested. People was interested. OK!—a British title eager to build the circulation of its U.S. edition—was interested. Even before Michael Douglas married Catherine Zeta-Jones and Tom Cruise married Katie Holmes, even before the launch of InStyle Weddings , images of celebrity nuptials were in great demand. It’s the conventional wisdom among editors of the tabloid press that stars are like neighbors, only not; ostensibly, readers want to share in a common rite of passage and, at the same time, feel a part of something they could never in their own lives afford or experience. For stars, selling exclusive rights to a wedding keeps the paparazzi at bay while simultaneously providing enough loose change to cover the cost— OK! reportedly paid $2 million for exclusive coverage of the Douglas–Zeta-Jones wedding—while garnering (still) more publicity for themselves.
So, while the Iraq Study Group was winding up its deliberations, while Pope Benedict XVI was trying to repair relations with Muslims on a trip to Turkey, and while Scotland Yard was investigating the case of the poisoned KGB agent, Anderson was spinning various editors on the importance of the Longoria-Parker fete. It’s a truism in Hollywood that the people who want publicity get it, and 32-year-old Eva is one of those people. Obviously her wedding wasn’t going to be just any wedding. It was not going to be in Corpus Christi, for instance, where she was born, or in San Antonio, where Parker and her parents live. Instead, it would take place in France—Parker’s home country—in Paris’ Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois church. The reception would be held 45 minutes outside of town, in the sixteenth-century Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. This would mean a lot of glamour and a lot of photo ops, specifically with other Housewives, assorted Hollywood pals—Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard, American Idol’s and E!’s Ryan Seacrest—and the handful of NBA stars in attendance. In other words, an exclusive was going to be expensive.
Anderson made it clear to one of the editors that she already had a $2 million offer; anyone else who wanted to cover the wedding would have to beat it or eat it. The frankness with which this bid was, in the words of that editor, “all about the money” was unusual but also bracing. Editors knew what their limits were. Hello! said good-bye. People dropped out, after offering “nowhere near” the aforementioned amount. (The rumor that People had been snubbed because it reported on an altercation between Eva, Tony, and a beleaguered San Antonio bicycle cop in December 2005 was not true.) OK! was the lucky winner, allowed to publish for the world to see photos of the ceremony (“Wedding of the Year”) and, the following week, the “fairy tale” reception (“Wedding Party of the Year”). The first week’s cover promised “the dress, flowers, cake and $1 million jewels.” Inside, readers could see Eva in her $75,000 Angel Sanchez gown “of handmade silk and georgette organza.” They would learn that hairstylist Ken Paves did her hair and that Felicity Huffman “felt blessed” to be there. A week later came photos of Housewives creator Marc Cherry toasting the newlyweds and of Eva’s specially designed scarlet Sergio Rossi shoes with the words “Eva and Tony July 7, 2007” inscribed in silver in the instep. OK! reported that Eva wore a $100,000 H. Stern bracelet and $500,000 H. Stern Hebe earrings with “17 carats of marquee-, cushion-, oval- and round-cut diamonds.” In other words, between product-placement spots, readers could both relate and not relate to the event. Meanwhile, OK! did just fine: The first issue alone sold more than a million copies, at $2.99 each.
But there was still more Eva to be found. She was, for instance, inside the front cover of the wedding issue in a two-page spread for L’Oréal Couleur Experte 5.3. L’Oréal also took out a full-page ad on page 13 to congratulate the newlyweds. Eva showed up again on page 41, in an ad for Bebe Sport. Then, following ten pages of wedding coverage, Eva surfaced yet again, on the back cover of the magazine, pushing a lipstick called Caramel for L’Oréal, part of its Star Secrets collection (“7 marvelous shades that reveal 7 unique personalities”).
It’s Eva’s self-possession that separates her not just from the Britneys and Lindsays of the world but from many of the troubled Texas beauties who have come before her.
It is virtually impossible, in fact, to pick up a fashion or celebrity magazine these days, here or around the world, without encountering her. She posed for Britain’s Arena magazine in nothing but chains. The New York Post’s Page Six caught her blowing out candles at her thirty-first birthday party. She’s topped Maxim’s Hot 100 list two years running; she’s frequently been one of People’s Most Beautiful. When she discussed her use of vibrators with Self—“I give [them] to all my girlfriends”—the news ricocheted around the globe. She has been Latina’s Mujer of the Year. A Swedish magazine quoted her opinion on sex: “ Orgasm är det finaste man kan ge bort! ” (Loosely translated, “An orgasm is the best gift one can give.”) She was both the hostess—with eleven costume changes—and an executive producer of the 2007 ALMA Awards, an influential celebration of Hispanic contributions to the entertainment industry, and gets even more publicity for her support of Padres Contra el Cancer (Parents Against Cancer), her charity of choice, and for being the Callaway Golf Foundation’s poster girl—more magazine ads!—in its campaign against ovarian cancer. If that isn’t enough, consider that she