Tuesday, November 21, 2017
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Newest A-lister niche: cute couple next door

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So, John Legend is coming to Clearwater.

This is not exactly breaking news. Yeah, he's an Oscar and Grammy winner, and yeah, he just scored the cover of Time's "Most Influential" issue. But he's also here quite a lot, headlining concerts and charity events like a February luncheon in Tampa addressing minority student success rates.

But there is one reason Saturday's show could be can't-miss: Legend has said he's bringing his wife, Chrissy Teigen, on tour.

Yes: THE Chrissy Teigen, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, social media superstar, and quite possibly your Internet best friend.

Between Legend's socially sophisticated crooner act, and Teigen's LOL-worthy tweets and Snapchats humanizing the world of Hollywood glamor, Legend and Teigen are the king and queen of a new breed of celebrity couple taking over Hollywood. With their year-old daughter Luna in tow, this swing through Florida will probably produce some adorable Mother's Day Instagrams.

Couples like Legend and Teigen — or Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, or Chris Pratt and Anna Faris, or Stephen and Ayesha Curry — have carved out a new niche in the celebrity-relationship ecosystem. They slide neatly between the dour, militaristic secrecy of Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes; the hot, shiny newness of the Weeknd and Selena Gomez; and the anything-for-headlines desperation of recent Us cover baby-bumpers Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt. They're the A-listers next door, the cool, smart, funny, down-to-earth Old Married Couple you and your spouse wish you could take out for tapas.

How do you become one of these couples? Well, you start by living your everyday life — or at least projecting that you are living your everyday life — like everyone else, only a lot more publicly.

If you're Bell and Shepard, you argue about the placement of living room furniture on Instagram. If you're Teigen, among all the glamorous family photos on your feed, you also share a shot of the time you stained your fingers green eating Fun Dip just hours before the Grammys. If you're Faris, you tweet a photo of Pratt wearing soothing patches beneath his eyes and reading a Thomas & Friends magazine at the breakfast table. If you're the Currys, you spend your fourth anniversary at Chick-fil-A.

These slice-of-family-life tweets juxtapose the glamorous and the banal in ways that feel endearing, relatable and honest. There's probably (definitely) some calculation at play here, but very little of it feels too posed, too perfect, too smile-for-the-spotlight. And it's enabled smart, funny celebrities to own public interest in their private lives in ways they never could before. These tweets and photos earns thousands of likes and retweets; outlets like E! News and People frequently cover them as news stories.

"Actors or musicians, they have a direct line to everybody," Shepard recently said on Marc Maron's WTF podcast. "The message that you want to send out isn't really being manipulated. And you can reach more people than (news) outlets can."

It can also translate into real-world currency — think Olympians Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton re-enacting their home life for Visa, or Bell and Shepard's commercials for Samsung Electronics. According to the advertising analytics company Ace Metrix, one 2016 Bell-Shepard spot tested in the top 1 percent of more than 50,000 ads in their database, with one focus group viewer saying: "They feel like normal parents that you can relate to."

Lest we all get cynical about all our celebrity couple crushes, it's noteworthy that not every glimpse into their lives is so Madison Avenue-approved. While Teigen's dream domestic life has helped yield a cookbook deal and TV gigs, she's also an unfiltered tweeter. She'll shut down critics and haters in an F-bombing heartbeat, and she frequently pokes fun at herself. After a Grammy party in February, she Snapchatted drunkenly — you know, as one does — while her patient husband waited to help take off her jewelry.

"Are you mad at me?" Teigen asked. "'Cause I got drunk."

"Why would I be mad at you?" Legend said. "You're perfect."

Adorable, right? Keep an eye out for more of that in Clearwater. This weekend, they really are the A-listers next door.

Contact Jay Cridlin at cridlin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.

   
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