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Jennifer Aniston

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Jennifer Aniston was recently described as "fiercely private." But everyone knows her story by now. What does it take to be considered not private?
—Zoe

Whoever spewed that cliché about Jennifer Aniston being fiercely private is wrong. There are no private celebrities. Period. Not even Harrison Ford, with his grumptastic interview style, or Beyoncé, who won't publicize her love life except through pop singles that get international airplay, or Gwyneth Paltrow, who has no problem sharing special family moments via her GOOP blog. (All three have been dubbed fiercely private.)

So then why do reporters use that tired phrase when describing everyone from Johnny Depp—who's had no trouble telling the press about how he met Vanessa Paradis —to Sacha Baron Cohen? Actually, it's a kind of code, and I've got the translation...

According to gossip reporters who would know, fiercely private doesn't mean the star won't talk about love or kids or family. (How many times have we heard Aniston blab something about Brangelina, fueling what's turning out to be the 30 Years War of Hollywood?) What the reporter is really saying is that the star is currently being, or has recently been, a profound pain in the ass. High maintenance. Difficult to interview or draw out at that very moment when the reporter wants something juicy.

"They don't share often, or enough," says Matt Donnelly, senior writer at Celebuzz (as well as a former B!tchling of mine). "That doesn't mean they aren't reclusive—look at Prince—but that's very different from private. People who want privacy don't become entertainers.

"But in the celeb journo world, private means high maintenance."

In other words, highly controlled about his or her public image.

So whoever wrote that about Aniston was probably noting that she holds her hands up and covers her face during some paparazzi encounters, or didn't feel like giving that particular reporter an exclusive sit-down with herself and John Mayer.

In this town, fiercely private is a phrase that is never, ever to be taken seriously.

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