jessica biel and justin timberlake

Justin Timberlake Apparently Didn't Cheat But Still Feels Bad, and Sure, Jan

Plus, "just friends" Brad Pitt and Alia Shawkat attend Kanye's opera together, and more celebs trying to fool the tabloids this week.
Rag Time is a regular investigation into the stories you see in the tabloids, with the context you don’t.

On Saturday, the British tabloid The Sun published several photos and a video of Justin Timberlake looking particularly drunk on a balcony in New Orleans. He was hanging out with some cast and crew members from his new movie Palmer, and the party probably would not have been a big deal except for the fact that Timberlake was clearly seen holding hands and otherwise canoodling with his co-star Alisha Wainwright. He was not wearing his wedding ring, even though as far as everyone knows, he is still married to former restaurateur Jessica Biel. She just dressed up like him for Halloween! So what is Timberlake, 38, doing holding hands with Wainwright, 30?


According to some lightning-fast follow-up reporting from the American tabloids, nothing. Almost immediately after The Sun published the incriminating evidence, sources close to Timberlake talked to People, Us Weekly, E! News, and everyone else about how the photos do not actually mean anything. “It’s a balcony with a group of people and it was definitely nothing happening,” a source told People. “He’s down there shooting [his film] Palmer, they’re starring in the movie together and they’re cool and everybody was just hanging out.”

“The video may look a way, but literally it was nothing,” continued the source, sounding more and more like a Trump advisor. “It was some friends, members of the team, crew, and people like that. They all know each other and were hanging. Like come on, they’re on an open balcony in New Orleans and he’s famous. It was nothing.”

Timberlake did not make an official statement about the photos, but Wainwright’s PR rep told People, “there is no validity to this speculation.”

What do you think is going on? I guess the answer to that question only really matters if you are Jessica Biel. And Biel is, for now, going along with Timberlake’s tabloid denials. On Monday, she made a point to leave her house and get photographed in LA smiling and wearing her huge diamond engagement ring. A source told E! News after her paparazzi outing, "Their marriage will survive. He feels guilty and will make it up to her. [Jessica] is very good to him and he knows how lucky he is. He says it was not a big deal, they were all hanging out together and that's the end of the story."


So he feels guilty, but it was nothing, and that’s the end of the story. I bet Timberlake would like us to forget the beginning of the story, too.

Cheating rumors have followed Timberlake throughout his significant relationships, though he has always vigorously denied them. In 2004, he sued the tabloid News of the World over a report that he cheated on his then-girlfriend Cameron Diaz with a model. And in 2010, his PR strongly denied allegations in an Us Weekly cover story that he cheated on Biel with Olivia Munn. Biel broke up with Timberlake a few months later, but by the end of 2011 they were back together and got married in 2012. Timberlake sang an original song as she walked down the aisle. End of story!

You know who isn’t worried about getting photographed this week? Brad Pitt. The art lover, 55, was once again spotted with actress Alia Shawkat, 30. They attended a performance of Kanye West’s new opera together. And guess what: They are still just friends. After photos of the two taking in the performance surfaced online, a source told People that Pitt and Shawkat “are just friends—absolutely nothing romantic is going on.”

In a follow-up report, another source revealed to People that Pitt is “very much about keeping friends as friends” and that “he just loves surrounding himself with good friends.”

This seems like a great philosophy, although we have not yet seen evidence that Pitt has other good friends that he is keeping as just friends. He only seems to get photographed with his just friend Alia Shawkat.


This is the fourth time Pitt and Shawkat have been photographed at some kind of art event in the last three months, although the tabloids only really picked up on their relationship last week. (Perhaps because Shawkat is not a regular tabloid character.) Based on their appearance at the Kanye opera, they seem to be getting quite close. They even wore matching hats—look! Do you think they bought them together? Is buying matching hats something friends typically do? Maybe if you are on a sports team together or something.

Things seem to be a bit less friendly this week between exes Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum. Last week, the tabloids reported that a court declared the two “legally single,” even though they still have some issues to work out in their divorce. So far, the breakup has seemed to be amicable, but now some unpleasantness is leaking out in the tabloids. Yesterday, People reported that Dewan is “very relieved” that the divorce went through. “Now, she can just focus on the future,” the source said. That’s a dig, right? Dewan is currently pregnant with her boyfriend, Broadway star Steve Kazee. (He won a Tony for his role in Once.)

Meanwhile, sources close to Tatum went to TMZ yesterday to reveal more of his side of the story. According to the gossip outlet, Tatum filed legal documents asking a judge for help with the custody arrangement for Tatum and Dewan’s daughter, Everly. "Due to our constantly changing work schedules, we have had conflict over adjustments to our schedules to ensure both parties are able to have equal time with our daughter, Everly,” Tatum wrote in the docs, which were obtained by TMZ.


This is the first time either party has mentioned a “conflict” in the wake of their separation. The filing did not sit well with Dewan, apparently, because her sources went to TMZ today to accuse Tatum of “grandstanding.” The sources also revealed that “communication” has become an issue in their co-parenting efforts. “We're told when one parent has Everly, that parent has to allow the other parent to FaceTime with the girl every day,” TMZ reported. “So, Jenna sources say Channing doesn't allow her to FaceTime. They also claim when Jenna has the child Channing almost never FaceTimes with her.”

Tatum’s sources countered, “Jenna’s so difficult Channing just FaceTimes through the nanny.”

When Dewan and Tatum first announced their separation last April, they framed it as a “loving” decision and asked for privacy. A year and a half later, they are sniping about FaceTime calls through TMZ. Perhaps they worked so hard on their rainbow-colored separation Instagram they ran out of positive energy to bring to court.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this video of Priyanka Chopra surprising her husband Nick Jonas with a German Shepherd.

The dog already has his own Instagram account with over 200,000 followers. Hoping you all find ways to increase public interest in your relationship this holiday season!