|Like many celebrities, Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson initially denied they were having a baby. (Marion curtis/associated press)|
NEW YORK - Deny, deny, deny.
That's what musician Pete Wentz did when reports surfaced that fiancee Ashlee Simpson was carrying his child. In an angry missive to MTV.com, Wentz fumed: "There is a witch hunt for people to be pregnant whenever they get engaged in Hollywood. This is all news to me."
Last week, Wentz, who married the 23-year-old singer last month at her parents' Los Angeles-area home, happily confirmed the news on his blog, explaining that the couple "wanted to wait until after the first trimester" to make it official.
Most expectant parents, concerned about the possibility of a miscarriage, wait until after the first three months of pregnancy to share the news with family and friends. But discretion is nearly impossible for those in the media spotlight.
"Every woman, no matter who they are or what they do for a living, has the right to wait until at least [three] months before sharing this very personal news," Wentz, who turns 29 Thursday, told MTV.com last week. "We wanted to wait until after the first trimester and get a clean bill of health from our doctors before confirming anything, just like any other couple.
"Being a boy I have no idea how to respond to such things and my first instinct was to protect her and the baby," said Wentz, bassist for rock band Fall Out Boy. "It's insane that you can't let happy news brew in Hollywood. This wasn't about press or anything. . . . I apologize to anyone who felt misinformed but the truth is, the person and growing baby is who I felt most loyal to protect and defend."
Wentz isn't the first celebrity to dispute pregnancy rumors. In late December, Nicole Kidman, who had a miscarriage during her marriage to Tom Cruise, denied that she is expecting a baby with husband Keith Urban - only to confirm it a week later. Jennifer Lopez, who welcomed twins with husband Marc Anthony in February, announced she was pregnant in November following denials by the couple.
Even so, attempts by celebrities to keep their pregnancies private doesn't stop celebrity magazines and gossip websites from issuing reports to the contrary.
Jared Shapiro, executive editor of Life & Style Weekly, told the Associated Press the magazine began publishing stories that Simpson, the younger sister of Jessica Simpson, was pregnant after receiving information from various sources.
"The news of the pregnancy makes for great breaking news," he said.
"Ninety-nine percent of these celebrities end up confirming, so they do talk about it - they just do it on their own terms," said Shapiro. He said it's the media's job "to break news. Not wait for news."
Pregnancy is a big game in the celeb news business, as indicated by the millions of dollars that People magazine has paid for exclusive photos of the children of Jennifer Lopez (reportedly $6 million), Angelina Jolie ($4 million for photos of baby Shiloh, now 2) and Christina Aguilera ($1.5 million).
Competition from Internet gossips raises the stakes even higher in getting the news first, Shapiro said.
"It's hard for celebrities to keep a pregnancy secret but if you look at who they surround themselves with - they've got doctors, lawyers, agents, managers, publicists, assistants, friends, family," he said. "Add that into the fact that you've got photographers following them, and just the entire American public on celebrity watch now - you can't pull it off. Your every word is heard."
Shapiro said stars are "getting creative in their choice of words, and that's become a whole new game: dissecting what a [representative's] comment actually means. Is it a denial? Is it a confirmation? Is a non-denial denial?"
Public Relations representative Ken Sunshine said there are lines to be drawn - especially in today's celeb-crazed climate. If somebody "wants to maintain some anonymity or some privacy of extremely personal things like this, they should be able to do it," he said.