"We found him a girl": Inside Hollywood's fake relationships, with two people who helped stage them.

When paparazzi pictures emerged recently of singer Shawn Mendes with his arms around fellow singer Camila Cabello, their respective fan bases went bananas.

Though the long-term friends refused to confirm or deny the relationship, they were then spotted kissing and holding hands in public throughout July (including a rather unsettling public pash session at a San Francisco cafe). Yes, another millennial music power couple had somehow found each other in the glare of the spotlight.

At least, it seemed that way… until they announced their new single Señorita, which they performed at the 2019 MTV VMAs.

While die-hard fans continue to (how do the kids say it?) ship the couple, the rest are crying “publicity stunt”.

Kind of like how Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens’ romance lasted almost exactly the length of the High School Musical franchise. How Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston‘s very intense, three-month relationship was catalogued by a single paparazzi agency. How Kim Kardashian’s tumultuous 72-day marriage to NBA star Kris Humphries coincided with the first season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians.


Staged relationships, or 'promances' (public relations romances), are hardly a new phenomenon in Hollywood. As celebrity publicist Jack Ketsoyan told Mamamia's daily news podcast, The Quicky, managers and PR teams have been crafting fake love stories for decades in order to benefit their clients' careers.

He noted that, in the early days, when Hollywood and audiences were more closed-minded to LGBT stars, gay actors would be paired with an up-and-coming actress as a sort of 'cover'.

Today, a staged relationship is more likely to be tied to a specific event or product.

"It's to be able to sell the hype of it," he said, "and also to be able to sell tickets, whether it's a concert, whether it's an album, whether it's getting people to go see the movie. It's all about the hype."

How they create the illusion.

Los Angeles-based lawyer, Christopher Melcher, has drawn up a number of contracts relating to his celebrity clients' staged relationships. He told Mamamia that the agreements will typically stipulate exactly how the two parties will create the illusion that they are together.

"This would mean appearances at award shows or parties or events together as a couple," he said. "Then there is going to be particularly some nondisclosure issues surrounding that, as to what cannot be said about the relationship and then sometimes what needs to be said. So there could be a script, even, as to what they would have to say if asked or challenged about the relationship.


"Then I have seen issues of sexual relationships, and specifics of whether this would happen or would not happen in an agreement."

For more inside details about Hollywood's staged relationships, listen to The Quicky. (Post continues below.)

The non-disclosure element is precisely why you'll never see a celebrity admit to having been in a fake relationship, even after it's ended. But the clues are there.

Creating a lucrative power couple is a common motivation, Melcher said, but he also pointed out other familiar scenarios.

"If an actor had drug and alcohol problems, stability issues, they may want to give the appearance that they've settled down and are in a committed relationship, so that they can get booked for films," Melcher said.

"There could also be situations where someone wants to look like a playboy and is now having these gorgeous women with them at all times. And so this is now creating this allure or interest that that there're someone that they're not."

"We found him a girl."

During his career, Ketsoyan engineered two relationships, one of which was the product of "a mutual agreement between agents".

"We had a male who had a movie coming out, and the movie was getting a lot of bad reviews," he said. "They wanted to take the negativity from the movie away and make the [publicity] more about him. So we found him a girl — just a one-year deal. Basically, it just finished off the movie press and then international press and then just a little bit after that, and then they went their separate ways."

And yes, Ketsoyan said, it worked: "It took away from people asking him about how much of a flop the movie was and [saw them] asking him how the romance is."

As for the woman involved, "She has a huge career at the moment, so she would benefit out of that by becoming a household name and and getting bigger roles. She used to be the third or fourth lead in any auditions or any jobs that she was getting, and she became the first. So she got a career boost out of it, for sure."

(No, he wouldn't say who they are. But no doubt all you internet investigators will be able to figure it out.)