Bullock's big secret left us flabbergasted
By MARIA PUENTE
Talk about being blindsided. Today, every celebrity probably is thinking the same thing: If Sandra Bullock can do it, why can't I?
Not just adopt a baby — movie stars have been doing that for decades (e.g. Joan Crawford). Not just adopting an African-American baby — celebrities have adopted babies of different races before, too (e.g. Angelina Jolie). It was even the plot of Bullock's latest movie, "The Blind Side."
No, what Bullock did, as People magazine revealed Wednesday, was pull off one of the most amazing coups in the history of celebrity media: She adopted a baby from New Orleans and took him home in secret in January, despite being in the white-hot spotlight for her hit movie, winning a best-actress Academy Award and suffering through a failing marriage.
Somehow, as reporters gawked at Bullock, 45, and cheating husband Jesse James outside their home in Los Angeles and her other home in Austin, they failed to notice the baby carriage slipping in by the back door?
Says Linda Bell Blue, executive producer of "Entertainment Tonight" and "The Insider," "We got blindsided, didn't we?"
"What's interesting is that she was dropping hints along the way — in her Oscar speech she wanted to thank 'all the moms who take care of babies and children no matter where they come from,' " Bell Blue says.
"It's a remarkable, impressive head fake," says longtime Hollywood PR consultant Michael Levine. "I'm astounded because celebs have zero privacy in the modern world. I don't know how she did it, but I tip my hat to her."
Even Bullock was stunned. "I don't know how we got away with it," she told People, which reported that Bullock told only a few friends and relatives and employed CIA tactics such as "decoys and dark cars."
After a four-year adoption process, she and soon-to-be-ex-husband James brought the infant boy home to Los Angeles in January and named him Louis (for Louis Armstrong), and even held a bris (Jewish circumcision ceremony) but kept it under wraps until after the Oscars in early March.
"We didn't want Louis pulled into the awards season energy," she told People. "I wanted him all to myself."
Remarkably, even her young stepchildren knew to keep quiet, says J.D. Heyman, an executive editor at People. "She did it with a lot of support from a very close circle of people that she trusted. They kept the secret, and that includes her stepchildren, even the littlest one."
During awards season. Bullock wouldn't let anyone come to the house for fittings for her dresses. She told People that her makeup artist couldn't understand why she was always so tired and needed "copious amounts of concealer" to cover up.
Throughout awards season, Bullock looked rested and glowing. In interviews, she never let on about the baby at home, even after a little lime-green baby sock popped out of her bag on the red carpet; people would pick it up and hand it back to her without even asking why she had a baby sock in her handbag, she said in People.
Then she won the Oscar, and days after, the details of James' dalliances with a stripper spilled out. Bullock left L.A. with Louis, now 3 1/4 months, and disappeared from view.
"All I remember thinking is I need to get Louis out of here before the vultures descend," she said.
Even now, there are still a few things Bullock has held back, such as the circumstances of the baby's birth and the adoption. She did tell People she is "adopting as a single parent." Bullock filed for divorce in Austin two weeks ago, but the public document didn't surface until last week, because Bullock filed using her initials, backward. (Bullock's publicist Cheryl Maisel did not respond Wednesday to questions about the divorce filing and adoption.)
In fact, maybe Bullock succeeded because she is so well-liked, by the public and the entertainment media.
At Walton's Fancy and Staple, Bullock's deli, bakery and cafe in Austin, Amanda Seiler of Houston and Sue Allen of Saratoga, N.Y., say they came in to the cafe for dessert Wednesday as a sign of support for Bullock. Seiler suggested the actress was able to keep the baby a secret for so long because "she is such a good person."
"People were not going to be selling her out," Seiler says. "She is lovable and kind and approachable and relatable. I think people truly, truly like her and protect her."