Ashlee Simpson, Pete Wentz

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Mariah got married just as her new album came out, and both Ashlee Simpson and Scarlett Johansson announced engagements close to their CD releases. This can't be a coincidence, right? Do celebrities time their "big announcements" with a new project?
—Charlotte, Tampa Bay, Fla.

You mean, did Mariah Carey deliberately schedule her "secret" wedding to Nick Cannon—a romance so private you have to have to go all the way to the People site to learn the details? Did Ashlee possibly give herself pregnantitis by that terrifying, greasy eyeliner man just to stay alive in the charts?

Well, yes. And no. My precise meaning after the jump.

I tracked down insight, and answers, from Howard Bragman, a veteran publicist who has worked with pretty much every A-list star on two legs. His revelation: No, stars don't marry or get knocked up for fame. But the timing of the subsequent announcement? Rarely an accident.

"I have known plenty of people who have timed announcements that were going to happen anyway," says Bragman, who has worked with, among many others, Paula Abdul and Isaiah Washington.

In other words, if a star is pregnant, she might choose to leak the news, say, earlier than usual, to promote, say, an album having something to do with a semisweet heavenly body. Not that I'm heavily implying anything.

And just how many such conveniently timed announcements has Bragman himself helped to engineer?

"More than I care to admit," he tells me. "If the announcement is going to happen anyway, why not tie it to this cool thing going on? Why shouldn't it help your album?"

I wish I could answer that, but John Mayer and I have a very important announcement to make...

Got a question about Hollywood? ASK IT!

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