Baby wars: The celebrity dilemma

You're rich, famous and you have a newborn. How best to cash in on that vital first photograph of your offspring?

Angelina Jolie finally emerged from hospital in Nice yesterday, following the birth of twins Vivienne Marcheline and Knox Leon last week, but the waiting paparazzi were none the richer for it.

Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt reportedly struck a record £6m deal with a US magazine for the first photos of the babies; money that they have vowed to donate to charity.

In doing so, Brangelina have probably avoided most of the PR pitfalls that befall the majority of celebrity new parents – namely, appearing grasping by pocketing a fat fee, or annoying an eager public by refusing to let the world see the much-hyped infant for months.

"It's like a game of chess," explained the PR guru Max Clifford. "You've got to make sure that you don't offend people, because you could alienate fans," he said.

Similar acts of munificence can be seen lower down the celebrity food chain. Charlotte Church and Gavin Henson recently donated the fee for pictures of baby Ruby's christening to charity. Eyebrows had been raised when they kept the cash from the photoshoot following her birth.

But Darryn Lyons, founder of the Big Pictures photo agency, said: "I don't think it makes any difference if these celebrities give the money to charity. These celebrities are willing to sell their soul, grandma and babies down the river."

But not all the stars are willing to part with their fees. Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony pocketed a rumoured £2.5m from People magazine for shots of their twins, Emme and Max, in March; Matthew McConaughey and his girlfriend, Camilla Alves, netted in the region of £1.5m for photos of baby Levi.

Suddenly, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' decision to unveil baby Suri for free on the cover of Vanity Fair in 2006 is looking pretty PR savvy. Not only did the photos quash endless rumours about Cruise's sexuality and fertility, they also set him apart from those celebrities who are keen to cash in on their kids.

Cruise's ex-wife Nicole Kidman said that she "never considered" taking any of the magazines up on offers for photos of her new baby, Sunday Rose. Considering the way her last few films have fared, she'd better hope this unsporting behaviour doesn't alienate too many fans.

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