I went to Garth Sundem, the wickedly ingenious author of Geek Logik, a new book of mathematical formulas for deciding questions like whether you should sleep with a co-worker, whether you should join a gym or see a therapist, and whether you can wear a Speedo without frightening small children.
I asked Sundem to set his sights even higher. The result of our labors (well, mostly his labors, but I want a piece of this scientific breakthrough) is the Sundem/Tierney Unified Celebrity Theory, an equation for predicting the odds that a celebrity marriage will last.
By comparing the many failed marriages with the few successes (like Johnny Cash and June Carter, or Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward), Sundem identified telltale factors likes celebrities’ ages, marital track records and levels of fame.
Younger couples have worse prospects than older couples do, particularly if they rush to the altar before getting to know each other. Britney Spears and Kevin Federline have only a 1 percent chance of making it to their fifth anniversary, according to our equation, and the most famously impetuous young couple of all, Romeo and Juliet, would have had zero chance of lasting five years.
Fame, as measured by Google hits, is no good for a marriage. The odds get even worse when the woman’s Google hits outnumber the man’s, as when Jennifer Lopez fell for a waiter named Ojani Noa. Our equation gave their marriage less than 1 percent chance of surviving five years; it actually lasted 13 months.
A crucial predictor is the sex-symbol factor, determined by looking at the woman’s first five Google hits and counting how many show her in sexy attire (or no attire). The skimpier the outfits, the skimpier the marriage, as illustrated in the short unions of Jessica Simpson (three years to Nick) and Marilyn Monroe (274 days to Joe DiMaggio).