Will 'Vanity Fair' Expose a Gwyneth Paltrow Affair?

The magazine is moving forward with an unflattering article about the actress. What is she so desperate to hide?

Gwyneth Paltrow put up a good fight, but Vanity Fair is moving forward with its takedown of Her GOOPness. The magazine's editor-in-chief, Graydon Carter, has confirmed that the unflattering article will go to print, saying that Paltrow "forced his hand" by begging everyone she knew not to participate. Now the question is: What does Vanity Fair know about Gwyneth that she'd rather not make public?

It could be something about her marriage to Chris Martin. Page Six claims that the magazine's researchers are investigating Paltrow's friendship with Miami billionaire Jeff Soffer, and the possibility that they had an affair in 2008. In November of that year, Soffer flew Paltrow to Miami for the re-opening of his Fontainebleau Hotel. Rather than staying in the hotel, however, the actress stayed at Soffer's house, then went out on his yacht the next day. At the time, she and Martin had been married for five years.

"'It's completely false. Jeff is a longtime friend of Gwyneth's and there was no romantic relationship with him at all," Paltrow's rep said in a statement on Friday. "He flew many of his friends to Miami that weekend -- not just Gwyneth."

Vanity Fair has not confirmed that they're investigating an affair, but the article is said to be an "epic takedown." So what other dirt are they digging up? Page Six speculates that the article will delve into Paltrow's falling-out with former BFF Madonna. That alone would be worth the cover price. Seriously.

It seems to us, though, that the more likely focus will be Paltrow's lifestyle brand. Remember, in the years between winning her Oscar (1999) and launching GOOP (2008), Paltrow's popularity had begun to wane. She was no longer a fresh-faced Hollywood ingenue; she had two children and a string of poorly received films. Then, as if by magic, she emerged as a best-selling cookbook author, a fitness guru, and a role model for hip mamas everywhere. It was a full-fledged image reinvention. And that kind of thing doesn't happen without a lot of behind-the-scenes effort that fans would rather not think about.

Gwyneth wants us to believe that her transformation was simply pulling aside the curtain to reveal her "authentic self." In reality, she probably made a lot of changes. There would have been strategic decisions about which parts of Gwyneth's life to expose and hide, based on what would help and hurt her "brand." It's not that her current image is a lie; it's a carefully thought-out strategy.

It probably wouldn't be that hard to find the cracks in Paltrow's facade. The New York Times hit a nerve last year, for example, when they reported that her cookbooks have a ghostwriter. Paltrow quickly tweeted that the paper had its facts wrong, even though it's public knowledge that she works with collaborators on her cookbooks. The Times stood by its story, because technically, those collaborators are ghostwriters; Paltrow is the only credited author of her book. But the actress appeared to take the article as a personal insult. When someone is that paranoid about being called a fraud, there's probably a reason. But again -- we're just speculating.

Ironically, Paltrow's attempts to lock down the Vanity Fair story may be hurting her image more than the story itself. A PR expert consulted by TheWrap said that Paltrow is "not doing herself any favors" by “trying to be very controlling and perfect in an era when there’s post-economic collapse, it’s widely acknowledged that nobody’s perfect and that there’s no such thing as control." In other words: it might actually work in Gwyneth's favor if she admitted she was less than perfect. Probably a good thing for the actress to keep in mind whenever that Vanity Fair story hits newsstands.

Donna Kaufman is a freelance writer and iVillage contributor. Find her on Twitter and Google+

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