When Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt negotiated with People and other celebrity magazines this summer for photos of their newborn twins and an interview, the stars were seeking more than the estimated $14 million they received from the deal. They also wanted a hefty slice of journalistic input — a promise that the winning magazine’s coverage would be positive, not merely in that instance but into the future.
According to the deal offered by Ms. Jolie, the winning magazine was obliged to offer coverage that would not reflect negatively on her or her family, according to two people with knowledge of the bidding who were granted anonymity because the talks were confidential. The deal also asked for an “editorial plan” providing a road map of the layout, these people say.
The winner was People. The resulting package in its Aug. 18 issue — the magazine’s best-selling in seven years — was a publicity coup for Ms. Jolie, the Oscar winner and former Hollywood eccentric who wore a necklace ornamented with dried blood and talked about her fondness for knives before transforming herself into a philanthropist, United Nations good-will ambassador and devoted mother of six.
In the People interview, there were questions about her and Mr. Pitt’s charity work and no use of the word “Brangelina,” the tabloid amalgamation of their names, which irks the couple.
Through a spokeswoman, People magazine, which is owned by Time Inc., released a statement denying that any conditions were placed on coverage. “These claims are categorically false,” the statement said. “Like any news organization, People does purchase photos, but the magazine does not determine editorial content based on the demands of outside parties.”
While all celebrities seek to manipulate their public images to one degree or another, Ms. Jolie accomplishes it with a determination, a self-reliance and a degree of success that is particularly notable. The actress does not employ a publicist or an agent. The keys to her public image belong to her alone, although she does rely on her longtime manager, Geyer Kosinski, as a conduit.
Jennifer Lopez, who sold pictures of her twins to People for an estimated $6 million in February, has a team of eight to help her navigate such situations. Ms. Jolie, 33, has her cellphone, a lawyer and Mr. Kosinski (and, of course, the counsel of her partner, Mr. Pitt). Getty Images handled the photography and some negotiations.