It's no surprise that the Hollywood set doesn't have the best track record when it comes to "till death do us part." It seems that a week doesn't go by without a Tinseltown couple calling it quits, and the attendant media firestorm, desperate pleas for privacy and speculation as to who will walk away with what.
But with the odds stacked against them -- according to the International Business Times, celebrity marriages have a 35 percent success rate -- what if there was a formula that could calculate whether or not a couple was destined for "happily ever after," before they were even married?
In 2006, the Sundem/Tierney Unified Celebrity Theory -- a mathematical equation to determine the length of a celebrity marriage -- was published. The equation, created by "Brain Trust" author Garth Sundem was based on a number of factors, including "the celebrities' ages, the length of their courtship, their previous marital history, and their fame." But when unions began crumpling far sooner than their predicted end dates (Kenny Chesney and Renee Zellweger were married for only 291 days while they had a 100 percent probability of making it through the year) or were still going strong after their calculated expirations (happily coupled Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's predicted relationship success rate was less than 12 percent), the equation was revisited.
Now, instead of predicting marriage D-Days based on a variable of Google hits, the formula includes a figure that divides a celebrity's New York Times mentions by the amount of times their name appears in The National Enquirer -- a much needed-update that accounts for the ebb and flow of fame.
"This is a major improvement in the equation," Sundem told the Times. "It turns out that overall fame doesn't matter as much as the flavor of the fame. It's tabloid fame that dooms you. Sure, Katie Holmes had about 160 Enquirer hits, but she had more than twice as many NYT hits. A high NYT/ENQ ratio also explains why Chelsea Clinton and Kate Middleton have better chances than the Kardashian sisters."
So are Hollywood couples aware that the fate of their relationships may lie in a simple game of division? Kelly Ripa certainly is. The "Live! With Kelly" host and her husband, Mark Consuelos, charted the longevity of their own marriage on Tuesday's show. The couple calculated that they have a 93 percent chance of staying together for the next five years, 49 percent for the next 10 years and 38 percent for the next 20 years.
"The way we stack up against the celebrity couples, we are, like, long in the tooth," Ripa told her audience. "I'm proud of that."
Forget the writing on the wall; when it comes to calculating celebrities' romantic longevity, the writing looks a lot like your kid's math homework.