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Is gwyneth's career in need of a detox?

You have to hand it to Gwyneth Paltrow: she doesn't let things get her down. Last week it emerged that her Goop lifestyle blog and brand is almost €1,2m in debt, while in the past month she has reignited a festering feud with domestic goddess Martha Stewart and is reportedly being replaced by Nicole Kidman in an upcoming movie - the only one currently on her schedule.

Despite these setbacks, Paltrow took to Goop three days ago to tell (in fact, it was more an order) her 150,000 subscribers that, from tomorrow, she and her staff will be following a "pre-Christmas cleanse" to prepare for the rigours of the party season after "our summers of over-indulgence". Devised by the actress and her personal doctor, the detox involves kale juice, carrot soup and balsamic miso root salads. No gluten, sugar, dairy, salt, caffeine or alcohol.

The blog post was classic Paltrow: full of healthy advice, trying to ensure it didn't sound like the pampered delusions of a Hollywood star with an army of staff and determined to carry on even in the knowledge that her words would instantly be republished and ridiculed by many.

She is the A-lister we love to hate. Her close friend Kate Hudson may be the "girl next door" and Beyonce (so intimate that Gwyneth's children call her Auntie B) the feisty music goddess, but Paltrow (42) just cannot seem to win over hearts and minds. From the time of her tearful Oscar acceptance speech for Shakespeare in Love in 1999 to her shock announcement earlier this year that she and her husband, Coldplay star Chris Martin, were "consciously uncoupling", she has been mocked and derided.

But this year must truly seem like her annus horribilis. The separation from Martin was announced in March after a year in which they said they had tried and failed to save their 10-year marriage. Paltrow and her two children with Martin, Apple (10) and Moses (eight), moved from London to Los Angeles, where the singer now also spends much of his time.

On the surface, the split seems immensely amicable; the couple have been spotted having dinner together, and at a recent Aids fundraising benefit, Paltrow introduced Martin with gushing praise for his musical talent and fathering skills.

Martin recently split up with his girlfriend, 24-year-old Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence, reportedly because she couldn't handle his closeness to his estranged wife.

Meanwhile, Paltrow has been linked to Brad Falchuk, the creator of the TV series Glee, in which she has made numerous appearances.

Dig a little deeper, though, and the "conscious uncoupling" is apparently not going that well. "The fact that Chris got together with someone almost 20 years younger than her - and an actress - has been really hard for Gwyneth," says Hollywood observer Sarah Linas. "It feeds into all her insecurities. She's 42 and that is a hard time for women in her business.

romantic

"Jennifer is the actress everyone wants to hire. Gwyneth is in that limbo age - too old to do the action roles or romantic leads, too young, or maybe still just a bit too beautiful, or perhaps just not good enough, to play the big character parts."

Paltrow's most recent role is as a supporting actress in the film Mortdecai, starring Johnny Depp and Olivia Munn, while last month it emerged that Kidman is to replace her in the English remake of the Argentine film, The Secret in Their Eyes.

While her combined worth with Martin is estimated at €222m, the balance between them has switched - when they met, she was by far the biggest earner; now he is. One source said: "Part of the move back to LA was because she felt she was losing out on the big roles and wasn't seen as a player. People like Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett are getting these great roles and she's still trying to hone her body for the Iron Man films - that becomes humiliating."

She has insisted that her diminishing big-screen appearances are a result of her own choice to do one film a year so she can be around for her children and focus on Goop. She has written two best-selling cookbooks and is passionate about health and fitness.

However, her lifestyle brand ambitions have also come under attack this year. According to financial reports filed last week, Goop's debt has risen to more than €1.2m. The firm said its directors "are of the opinion that predicted profits will provide sufficient resources to enable the company to continue trading in the foreseeable future".

Goop, which started out as Paltrow's lifestyle blog, is now moving into e-commerce, selling clothes, beauty products and interior designs online. But with her recommendations for plain white T-shirts that cost €75 and expensive sushi delivery services, questions remain about her appeal to her readers beyond the insight into her celebrity lifestyle.

As with her acting career, she is being squeezed on two fronts - old and young - when it comes to Goop. Enemy number one is Martha Stewart. Last month, the 73-year-old doyenne of the US lifestyle market suggested that Paltrow "just needs to be quiet" on matters such as cooking, adding: "If she were confident in her acting she wouldn't be trying to be Martha Stewart."

Enemy number two is Blake Lively (27), who has recently started her own lifestyle blog, Preserve, and who took a dig at Paltrow in an interview in Vogue Australia this summer, saying: "I'm not trying to show you the perfect life or the aspirational life. It's real life. It's not about me."

obsessed

While Paltrow credits her love of food and cooking to her adored late father's skills in the kitchen, others say it is her fear of ageing that drives her lifestyle. "Her dad died when she was young, and from that moment she became obsessed with being healthy and fit," says one source. She talks in public about having a glass of wine or a Martini, but privately she will then obsess about it for days afterwards and go on a huge detox."

She has lucrative contracts with the Max Factor and the clothing and perfume giant Hugo Boss - deals that Forbes estimates are more important to her profile and earnings than her film career.

Brand expert John Edwards says: "She still has a huge public profile and, in a way, it doesn't matter whether people like or dislike her - she is recognisable in adverts, she's glamorous, and she's in the news. Advertisers love all those things. Look at someone like Sandra Bullock, who is having a huge comeback at the moment.

"I wouldn't write Gwyneth off just yet."

hnews@herald.ie


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