Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beyonce & Jay Z Top Forbes List: Hollywood's Top-Earning Couples

Hollywood's Top-Earning Couples

Lacey Rose and Lauren Streib, 11.19.08, 04:00 PM EST

What happens when you marry an $82 million hip-hop brand and an $80 million R&B empire? You get Hollywood's best-paid power couple.

Thanks to a monster year filled with music, movies, fashion and endorsement deals, Jay Z and his new bride, Beyoncé Knowles, collectively raked in $162 million between June 1, 2007 and June 1, 2008. The jaw-dropping sum garners them bragging rights atop our first annual ranking of Hollywood's Top-Earning Couples, a list that also includes A-list pairings Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, David and Victoria Beckham, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, among others.


"Naturally, powerful people tend to gravitate toward other powerful people," explains clinical psychologist and celebrity researcher Jim Houran, for reasons that range from proximity (stars hang around other stars) to familiarity (people are attracted, at least initially, to others like them) to clearer expectations (shared priorities make it easier for celebrities to relate). No matter how they get together, the results are good for the bottom line.

Take Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. They hauled in some $85 million over the past year, making them No. 2 on our list. Though Jada's resume continues to grow, Will's the family breadwinner. He raked in $80 million in the year ending June 2008, thanks to another set of top-performing blockbusters: I Am Legend, The Pursuit of Happyness and this past summer's Hancock. Together the flicks banked $1.2 billion at the worldwide box office, making him Hollywood's most bankable star.

Jada pulled in $5 million during the same 12-month period, thanks to roles as an actress (The Women), producer (The Human Contract) and businesswoman (a stake in beauty line Carol's Daughter).

Third: David and Victoria Beckham. Conquering fans on both sides of the Atlantic, the power couple brought in $58 million over the year-long period.

Becks' share was $50 million, proving the much-covered move to America has paid off for the British soccer star. Though his Los Angeles Galaxy salary was $5.5 million, the sum more than doubled when his cut of the team's ticket, merchandise and sponsorship revenues were factored in. He also pulled down a cool $35 million from lucrative endorsement deals with Motorola (nyse: MOT - news - people ), Adidas (other-otc: ADDDY.PK - news - people ), Coty and PepsiCo (nyse: PEP - news - people ), among others.

His wife, better known by her pop-star moniker, Posh, generated another $8 million, thanks to her cut of a $23 million Spice Girls reunion tour and a slew of product lines, including sunglasses, perfume, couture clothing and her DVB jeans line.

Not far behind are country sweethearts Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, who collectively brought in $35 million over the course of the year.

In addition to the big loot they made on their Soul-2-Soul concert tour, he earned millions from festivals and a double-platinum album, Let It Go. Hill recorded another album, The Hits, and the NFL Sunday Night Football theme song. Every time NBC plays the catchy tune, Hill sees a check.

Live-in lovers and tabloid staples Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who banked $34 million together, round out the top five.

Along with globe-trotting and parenting six, Jolie appeared on screen in the films Beowulf and A Mighty Heart. During the same period, Pitt spent time both in front of the camera (Oceans 13, The Assassination of Jess James) and behind it (The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, A Mighty Heart and Tree of Life).

In Pictures: Hollywood's 20 Top-Earning Couples

Forbes and E! Entertainment teamed up for a one-hour special on the Top 20 Celebrity Cash Couples, which will premiere on E! Friday, Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. ET.


Beyoncé: No, No, No she’s Fiercely Underrated

As Beyoncé prepares to release a new double album, half of which is credited to her alter-ego Sasha Fierce, Rob Morgan argues that the multi-talented diva doesn't always get the credit she deserves…
Beyoncé © Sony BMG
They say that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. In that case, somewhere in a basement in Texas there is a picture of Beyoncé as a talentless American Idol wannabe, growing irrelevant as she lip-syncs her one hit single in shopping malls. The girl in the picture fails and falters, squandering her career performing flabbily at high profile award shows. She slides out of limos paying paparazzi’s mortgages with a flash up her skirt, in and out of rehab, striving to satisfy the media’s appetite for novelty with ever diminishing returns.
Meanwhile, the public face of Beyoncé is Sasha Fierce, an indestructible fictional character who can do no wrong.
There’s a pub game that uses ‘Chuck Norris Facts’ style nonsense to celebrate Beyoncé’s skill set: “Beyoncé can swim underwater for nine miles”, “Beyoncé’s all-female band Suga Mama actually features all females” or, my favourite, “Beyoncé is the only person who can do the Moonwalk forwards”.
It does sometimes seem that she can do anything. Yet I’d say she’s rarely given the credit for it.
I can hear the snorts now. Beyoncé underrated? Isn’t the wall to wall coverage enough for this wannabe Tina Turner clothes horse?
OK, I’m not saying she’s not exposed: she’s promoted everywhere and in every gossip magazine. The highest-earning female artist will always be. All that obscures her various talents.

Beyoncé © PA Photos
In no particular order, Beyoncé is a pretty good actress. Dreamgirls was everything it should have been. If she gets her way (and Beyoncé always gets her way), she’ll be an excellent Wonder Woman. Then there’s the songwriting. She’s co-written 10 or more number one singles. Like too many successful female songwriters, there’s a question mark hanging over that claim. People assume that, really, a man must have done the difficult bit of writing the songs, or at least helped her with the heavy lifting.
As discussed here, new single If I Were A Boy was written by a San Diego singer called BC Jean. It’s credited to Jean and her producer, not to Beyoncé. Roger Friedman of Fox News has weighed in on this and claimed that Beyoncé’s famously tough manager father tried to bully her way onto the writing credits.
It’s easy to believe that happened - adding people to the writing credits of songs as a way of getting your share is as old as the music business itself. This story has spread all over the internet just from Friedman’s one paraphrased, unsubstantiated “I’m told that...” story. But Friedman has it in for Knowles. He has long disputed her songwriting accomplishments. He makes the ridiculous claim that Crazy In Love is just the horn sample, or that Baby Boy and Naughty Girl are no more than the songs they draw from (Here Comes The Hot Stepper and Love To Love You Baby).
Now there’s his statement that BC Jean’s version of her song is “certainly as good as Beyonce’s if not better”. That version is available on Jean’s website and listening to that raspy, whiny Four Non Blondes original makes me appreciate the Beyoncé soulful version all the more. laughpoint
Beyoncé © PA Photos
Knowles can really sing. She was responsible for Destiny’s Child’s signature staccato vocal style. If I Were A Boy is another step forward for her voice. Compare it to Madonna’s stylistically-similar torch songs with William Orbit and it’s clear that all the songwriting and production muscle in the world won’t give a thin voice the depth Beyoncé has summoned up nowadays.
The evidence that Knowles is falsely claiming to write songs to which she made no significant contribution is slim, but for some reason, people want to believe it in a way they don’t when it’s George Michael or Michael Jackson.
Which brings me to another one of Beyoncé’s qualities. Let’s face it, her looks haven’t done her career any harm. I find that if I say, “the thing she does with her leg in Crazy In Love”, few women, but all men will know exactly what I’m talking about. It often seems that a woman has to look good to have a chance of success in the sexist music business.
It’s deceptive, though. I’d say looks are another reason Beyoncé is underrated. Beauty gets the exposure and shifts units, but if it’s acclaim you want they count against you. If you want to win awards, it’s better to be Adele than Joss Stone. In Hollywood, if Nicole Kidman wants to be taken seriously one week, she uglifies herself with a fake nose and wins an Oscar. There is no equivalent for the female pop star. Unlike Robbie Williams or Justin Timberlake, if she starts as eye candy that’s what she remains.
Oh, and Beyoncé can dance. See the no-frills dance-only video to other current single Single Ladies. Then see the Saturday Night Live skit of the same video to prove she has a sense of humour.
Beyoncé as Sasha Fierce on the cover of her new album © Sony BMG
The gimmick with the new double album is that half of it is not Beyoncé, it’s Sasha Fierce. “Sasha is the fun, more sensual, more aggressive, more outspoken side and more glamorous side that comes out when I'm working and when I'm on the stage."
She’s been rattling on about Sasha for years now. The idea is that Sasha is a psychological defence mechanism, a split personality that allows her to retain who she really is off stage.
All very neat, but don’t be fooled. Yes, Sasha is a trick, but it’s not the trick she says she is. Talking about her fantastic show-stealing performance with Prince at the 2004 Grammys, Bee said "I saw that I didn't even give him the mic. It was supposed to be in the middle, not in front of my mouth. Sasha just took over."
Hmm. Sasha isn’t a way of protecting poor Beyoncé from the intrusions of fame, she’s a way of protecting us from the terrifyingly ambitious, feral, real Ms Beyoncé Knowles. She’s a way of disguising from the world quite how talented, successful and underrated she is - and just how much she wants this. It’s understandable, really. We need Sasha to be a fake because Beyoncé is too good to be true.




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