Is this love affair too good to be true? It involves a massive diamond ring, a gushing bride-to-be and a mother of the bride who's thrilled that her daughter, once infamous for starring in a porn video, is about to marry an heir to a vast Greek shipping fortune. Sound like a fairy tale?
Well, some folks close to Paris Hilton and Paris Latsis say it is just a fairy tale and tell Star that the recently engaged couple will never make it down the aisle.
"IT'S A PLOY"
One of Hilton's friends doesn't believe the engagement story for a second. "It's a fake!" the insider tells Star. "No one is taking [the wedding plans] seriously." Even though the Hilton clan celebrated Paris' engagement at the $10 million Beverly Hills, Calif., mansion she shares with her beau, other insiders suggest the engagement is designed to get Hilton, 24, some positive press to counter her current media scandal: her sexy commercial for the West Coast burger chain Carl's Jr. In the super-hot spot, Paris, clad only in a skimpy black swimsuit, eats a burger while washing a Bentley. It's so racy that it's not aired before 9 p.m. in the Southeast and Midwest, where decency groups tried to have it banned.
A source familiar with New York society circles tells Star that Paris' mom, Kathy Hilton, was horrified by the ad, which shows her daughter as a sexpot, an image Kathy had hoped would fade. "Kathy felt humiliated," reports the insider. "They worked hard to rectify Paris' image after her [porn] video, then she goes and makes a raunchy commercial."
Other sources close to Hilton claim she's a loveaholic who's desperate to tie the knot. "She's kind of emotionally insecure, and the one thing she wants more than anything is to be loved unconditionally," says one source of Paris, who was engaged to model Jason Shaw in 2001. "She thinks marriage will give her security." (Hilton's rep denies that the engagement is phony.)
THE WORD IN GREECE
Meanwhile, sources familiar with the Athens, Greece-based Latsis clan say the family isn't too happy about the relationship and don't consider the engagement official. Why? Because of Hilton's hardpartying reputation. The Latsises are also convinced that their young progeny is a playboy who won't ever really settle down. And while Paris Latsis' mother, Marianna, has said publicly that she approves of the nuptials, others who know the family say that privately she's expressing doubt. One Greek newspaper claims Latsis' father, politician Gregory Kasidokostas, has even refused to meet the Hiltons. "It's a question of Hilton's image," the Latsis family friend tells Star, noting that the Latsis family has always shied away from seeking headlines. According to another source, Latsis' late grandfather, John Latsis, the son of a fisherman, who built the family's $7.5 billion fortune (the Hiltons are worth $775 million), would be shocked by the engagement.
Unlike his billionaire Greek shipping rival Aristotle Onassis, who wed Jackie Kennedy, the Latsis patriarch hated media attention. "He must be turning in his grave," says Peter Evans, an expert on Greek dynasties and the author of Nemesis, a book about the Onassis and Kennedy clans.
"The thought of his heir betrothed to a girl who's been filmed having sex would've driven him wild."
Other Greek observers say Paris Latsis, 22, gets his nonconformist streak from his mother. "It's life repeating itself," says Christos Zambounis, director of Life & Style, an Athens-based monthly magazine, noting that Latsis' father was a water-ski instructor when he married into the Latsis clan. "The choices Marianna made weren't approved by her family," he tells Star. "Paris is doing the same." Note to Paris Hilton: That marriage didn't last either.
— ALI MARCUS, DAVID CAPLAN, JOHN BELL & TIM MILES