Laurie After Larry: A-List Activist?

Free from the funnyman, Laurie David could get more of the attention she wants.


June 6, 2007 — -- First the enthusiasm, now the marriage. After 14 years together, Larry David, creator of "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and his wife, Laurie David, have called it quits, their spokesperson said Tuesday.

Larry's sitcom fortune and fame helped Laurie become one of the most familiar faces in the campaign against global warming. With his comedic genius and her environmental activism, the Davids were a Hollywood power couple.

But some speculate that her jump in status after producing Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," overshadowed his success and led to their split.

"When that dynamic shifts, that can be a contributing factor to divorce," celebrity publicist Michael Levine said about Laurie eclipsing Larry in the public eye.

And though their marriage may go the way of the polar ice caps, one spouse stands to benefit from the separation. If anything, divorcing Larry could help Laurie.

Free from the funnyman, Laurie may be able to effect more change than she could have otherwise. After all, psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall pointed out, how can the public take seriously the wife of a man who makes jokes about the Soup Nazi and the Bubble Boy?

"His profession is very light hearted," Marshall said. "There's a sense of humor about everything, and she's taking up a cause that's very serious. She may feel that she can't afford to be light hearted. She might think, 'If you're laughing, that means you're laughing at me.'"

As the wife of the super-successful sitcom creator, 49-year-old Laurie stayed in the shadows. As an environmental activist, she stole the spotlight. Marshall, author of "Dealbreakers: When to Work on a Relationship and When to Walk Away," said the role reversal could have damaged their marriage.

"In most relationships, one person is quite content to live through the other: the woman behind the man or the man behind the woman," she said. "Role reversal is very uncomfortable, very stressful."

And among Hollywood couples, role reversal might very well end in breakup. One of the most publicized switches in status happened between Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Philippe, who divorced in November 2006.

When they got together in 1997, Philippe was a sought-after actor, reaping the rewards of the teen horror flick "I Know What You Did Last Summer." By the time they split, Witherspoon had blown his career off the map with a best actress Oscar and a host of hit movies under her belt.

Witherspoon's star has continued to rise since her split with Philippe -- she has two movies coming out this year and remains a red carpet staple.

And she's not the only woman to forge ahead after a high-profile breakup.

Following a drawn out divorce from billionaire Ron Perelman, 53-year-old Ellen Barkin is heating up screens as the blond bombshell of "Ocean's 13."

In a split that foreshadowed Laurie and Larry David's, after breaking up with comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss defied those who said her fashion design career would fizzle and established a celebrity-loved label.

Publicist Levine predicts Laurie could see the same happen with her career.

"I think she's starting to build her own platform and that's fine," he said. "She's an attractive, smart woman."

That she's tied to a cause on the lips of everyone in America can only help her status, Levine said. In addition to producing "An Inconvenient Truth," Laurie founded the Stop Global Warming Virtual March with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and authored the book, "The Solution Is You: Stop Global Warming -- An Activist's Guide." In April, she hit the road with rock star Sheryl Crow to spread the gospel against climate change.

With her resume growing longer as the Earth's temperatures climbs higher, Levine expects Laurie's relationship with Larry will eventually drop down to a footnote in her career.

"I think for a time it defined her but I think that time has passed," he said of their marriage. "It'll have no impact on her credibility."

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