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Brad Pitt takes the hit for split with Jennifer Aniston

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There’s an interesting behind-the-scenes reasoning for Brad Pitt’s big Esquire cover story that’s getting so much attention this week.

Sure, it’s part of his promotion for next month’s “World War Z” film and is timed to help support partner Angelina Jolie’s revelation about her double mastectomy, but there’s a quieter agenda at work here, too.

Pitt is trying to bury those ongoing stories about Jolie being the “other woman” who stole him away from his “America’s Sweetheart” wife, Jennifer Aniston.

In the story, Pitt makes it clear that it was his pot-smoking and failure as a good husband that led Aniston to decide to divorce him — before he began filming “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” when he and Jolie clicked off-screen, as well as on.

A source long close to both Pitt and Aniston confirmed to this column Thursday, “It is long overdue. And if you read the entire Esquire article closely, it’s very clear Brad has nothing but respect for Jen, and makes it clear it was his lack of attention to their marriage that led to the breakup.”

† The source goes on to stress that Pitt is “very, very happy that Jen has found such happiness with [fiancé] Justin [Theroux], and only wishes her the best. … Everyone here — especially Brad and Jen — have long since moved on with their lives. … Too bad the tabloids haven’t figured that out. Well, they probably have, but know slapping Brad and Jen and Angelina’s mugs on the front pages sells magazines.”

TV TALK: The “Young and the Restless” team will air a special tribute to the late Jeanne Cooper on Tuesday (11:30 a.m., WBBM-Channel 2), with cast members and Cooper chums Melody Thomas Scott, Christian Le Blanc, Tracey Bregman, Eric Braeden — plus “The Bold and The Beautiful” star John McCook and Cooper’s son Corbin Bernsen — paying tribute to the legendary actress, who died earlier this month. Cooper portrayed Katherine Chancellor for more than 39 years.

HISTORY NOTE: Veteran Palmer House PR whiz Ken Price — the guy behind the hotel’s wonderful new museum and archives — discovered a fascinating page from the meticulous journal kept by Merriel Abbott, the in-house producer of all the Palmer House floor shows, beginning in the 1930s. As HBO nears the Sunday premiere of its Liberace film, “Behind the Candelabra,” starring Michael Douglas, Price was amused to discover Abbott’s journal entry from 1947 — noting the then-unknown, 24-year-old Liberace was paid $900 for a four-week gig in the Empire Room, opening for the Freddy Nagel Orchestra. The same page notes singer Michael Douglas was only paid $225 for four weeks. That, of course, was not the actor but the guy we would later know as Mike Douglas, who often sang on his TV talk show that aired nationally for nearly 20 years.

TOON TIME: Comics fans will want to know about the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, a weekend-long celebration of independent comics, returning to Our Town on June 15 and 16.

More than 200 exhibitors will be showcasing their artwork at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted. Known as CAKE, the event is being organized by Neil Brideau, Edie Fake, Max Morris, Grace Tran and Jeff Zwirek to bring attention to the diverse community of underground and alternative comics.

The best news: The show is free! Along with offering artwork for sale, CAKE will include workshops, exhibitions, panel discussions and special guests from the world of independent comics.



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