Book Article

The Wizard of 'Odds'

Why the ''Odds'' are against celeb marriage. Author Gregory Baer thinks he's got ''Life'' all figured out -- and he's got the numbers to prove it

THE SMOKING GUN Baer tells you how good your chances are in ''Life''
Image credit: Odds Illustration by Thomas Fuchs
THE SMOKING GUN Baer tells you how good your chances are in ''Life''

Gregory Baer has two words for those of you envious of Brad and Jennifer's wedded bliss: Don't be. As the Washington, D.C., attorney proves in ''Life: The Odds (And How to Improve Them)'' (Gotham, $20), the chances of a celebrity marriage surviving for a lifetime are only 1 to 3, versus even money for the average Joe and Josephine.

Baer, a former Federal Reserve employee, began analyzing life's more pressing probabilities after spending too many sleepless nights contemplating the likelihood of dating a supermodel (FYI, it's 88,000 to 1). He's since calculated the odds for the good (hitting a hole in one from 200 yards: 20,000 to 1), the bad (having your identity stolen in the next year: 200 to 1), and the very bad (being possessed by Satan: 7,000 to 1, if you assume America's 750 exorcists perform one a week).

At Oscar time, Baer's deepest sympathies rest with Hollywood's sound- and visual-effects editors. With the highest ratio of guild members to available statuettes, they have the worst Oscar odds in the industry (33,000 to 1). ''I really feel for those guys,'' Baer laughs. ''Trapped in a dark room all day at work and not invited to the parties -- it's a lose-lose situation.'' Music directors and composers, though, boast a small Academy guild -- and the best chance of making a trip to the podium. No wonder John Williams -- with five Oscars -- is sitting pretty.

Originally posted Oct 28, 2003 Published in issue #736 Nov 07, 2003 Order article reprints