Thursday, August 31, 2006

Couric: From Fun to Nun

Are they serious with this? Leave it to CBS News to pay all that money for Katie Couric and then dress her up like Sister Bertrille.

This is old Bob Schieffer in his last night on Dan Rather's set, after an eighteen-month Viagra high with the CBS Newsbabes, turning the show over to one of the nuns from our Vatican II schooldays. This is their idea of making Katie Couric acceptably "serious" to read the Teleprompter for the Depends and Metamucil set? She's going up against Brian Williams, for Chrissakes!

Les. Are you watching this? Dude, drop the bomb. These people are wacked.

Then again, maybe they figure that black is slimming.

Let us pray... that old Bob isn't covering up what we think he's covering up...

The Katie Couric Countdown:
Five fingers to liftoff!

(Just how wacked is CBS News? Read the introduction to Tabloid Baby, the book that CBS veteran Paula Zahn told us "got it exactly right.")

UPDATE: Ray Richmond of The Hollywood Reporter, the dean of entertainment-- and entertaining-- commentary, weighs in with his usual brilliant perspective at Past Deadline.

From Juwanna Mann to Basketball Man!

We told you about the tremendous buzz surrounding the new sports documentary feature, Basketball Man. The buzz is only intensifying with word that a top comedian and movie star will star at the premiere party in Las Vegas.

We can tell you that Tommy Davidson will host the film preview September 27th at the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.

“Tommy Davidson is the man!” enthuses executive producer Keith Zimmerman of Double Dog Sports & Entertainment. “He’s a dynamite performer. And he knows the game. Basketball Man might be the best sports documentary ever made. Tommy will make it the best premiere Vegas has ever seen!”

You might remember that Davidson leapt to fame-- along with Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx and various Wayanses-- from the cast of TV’s In Living Color (we've always dug his Sammy Davis, Jr. impression). But the Basketball Man websites note a couple of impressive basketball connections. Davidson was the comic who came to the aid of Magic Johnson when the hoops legend was flailing with late night talk show. He was also a star of Juwanna Mann, the outrageous cross-dressing hoopsploitation comedy flick that has to be the Cloud 9 of hoops movies! (And you can quote us!)

Basketball Man is the first documentary to tell the story of the life and legacy of basketball’s inventor, Dr. James Naismith. Much of the story through his grandson, Ian, a tough-talking Texan who carries the original typed rules of the game in a golden attaché case.

The film, with its mix of archival footage, surprising revelations and a dramatic story line centered on Ian Naismith, has already led to Oscar whispers. Especially around here.

The doco features many basketball stars, including Steve Nash, Michael Jordan, Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, John Wooden, Red Auerbach and NBA commissioner David Stern.

Many of them will be at the premiere, which is a benefit for the Naismith International Basketball Foundation and other charities.

Basketball Man is a Double Dog Sports & Entertainment presentation of a Frozen Pictures production. It’s headed to a special DVD release after a planned brief theatrical run.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Prosecutors drop McDermott probe-- but we won't!

Federal prosecutors have dropped their investigation into the disappearance of Olivia Newton-John's alleged boyfriend of nine years, Patrick McDermott.

But investigations by the US Coast Guard and the Tabloid Baby team remain open. And McDermott is believed to remain on the run.

Six months after Tabloid Baby revealed evidence that McDermott faked his own death and was in Mexico, prosecutors have failed to turn up any clues into his disappearance on an overnight fishing trip off the coast of California last year. The US Attorney's office had been investigating the crew and owners of the fishing boat Freedom over the disappearance, but failed to find any evidence they were responsible.

The case rose to the surface in June, when Australian reporter Nick Papps followed Tabloid Baby's lead and found more evidence that McDermott was alive and seen in an around the town of Todos Santos on the Baja peninsula.

The chase was muddied when the celebutainment show Extra jumped on the bandwagon and promised to perform DNA tests on a possible McDermott its investigator had discovered in the region. After the show and its ancillary website Tmz.com generated worldwide publicity for the find and tests, it was revealed that the hat had actually been handed to Extra by a local reporter in Todos Santos-- and that Extra had returned the hat-- untested and contaminated. The cruel and cynical ratings ploy led some to speculate that the Warner Bros. show was involved in the coverup of McDermott's disappearance.

Prosecutors had been using a grand jury to quiz crew members of the Freedom over a galley tab that showed McDermott's food and drink bill had been paid just hours before the Freedom came to shore in San Pedro. The investigators had been trying to determine whether McDermott had paid the bill himself or someone had paid it to cover up his disappearance.

The prosecutor's letter noted it "may reopen this investigation at any time should it receive additional pertinent evidence relating to this matter," but for now, the owners of the Freedom sportfishing boat are very relieved to be off the hook. Just two days ago, Tabloid Baby received an email inviting us on a September fishing expedition in the same area where McDermott had last fished.

When McDermott disappeared, he was in debt and facing possible jail time over unpaid child support.

Again, the case remains open here.

Oasis are the greatest rock 'n' roll band ever!

Some people are laughing that Britain’s Q magazine poll placed two songs by Oasis at the top of their list of the 100 Greatest Songs Ever.

Don’t laugh.

Sure, Q’s into making up provocative lists, and they’re bound to be Anglocentric—but Q is the best rock magazine in Western culture.

And as we’ve been saying for more than a decade now:

Oasis are the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band ever.

Live Forever is the greatest rock ‘n’ roll song ever. For the past six months, it’s been the ringtone on our cellphone!

And Wonderwall, voted the second greatest song ever-- could fight for the title! We’d sing it to the baby all those years ago.

Tabloid Baby pals like Brett Hudson of the Hudson Brothers and Ringo Starr of the All-Starr Band dismiss Oasis as crass Beatles imitators. Others don’t like them because they don’t move onstage, never really cracked America, and are known here mainly for their “All Around the World” song in a phone commercial.

But Oasis, and the Gallagher brothers at its core, represent everything good about rock ‘n’ roll music. Their fights and misadventures have been hilarious fodder for a dozen years— speaking unintelligibly in Mancurian (find Wibling Rivalry), walking out on the US tours that would finally break them here—slugging it out in public—Liam calling in sick to MTV Unplugged, then heckling from the balcony as Noel struggled to croon through the hits—Liam questioning the paternity of Noel’s kid-- getting his teeth knocked out—Noel firing all the original members of the band and replacing them with B-grade Brit rockers .…

That’s all window dressing.

Bottom line: Oasis are not Beatles imitators any more than the Beatles were Everly Brothers imitators.

Oasis are better than the Beatles!

Liam Gallagher is the greatest rock ‘n’ roll singer since John Lennon!

The first two Oasis albums are among the greatest albums ever!

Their live album is the greatest live album ever!

Songs like Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, Cigarettes & Alcohol and Champagne Supernova could round out the Top 5.

And Oasis is mentioned in Tabloid Baby!

In solidarity and tribute, we've added the Oasis website to the Tabloid Baby links list!

Would anyone disagree?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Katie Couric's Bush is showing... and telling

George W. Bush as a guest on Katie Couric’s CBS Evening News show debut?

They may be pulling old Walter Cronkite out of the yacht bunk where he’s been shtupping Carly Simon’s sister to introduce their new anchorgal when she ushers in the fuzzier, perkier Evening News era next Tuesday (commentaries and all!), but with the Bush smooch, Les Moonves is leaving no doubt about it: the fight is on to make sure the age of the liberal, crusading, Burberry-trenchcoat, arugula-chomping, Upper West Side out-of-touch, colonial, left-wing, conservative-bashing, slanted, sheltered CBS News is over!

Making nice with the Bush administration is a big statement. And though much of the Old Guard is still behind the scenes at the Evening News, the Moonves bomb is a smart one. Don’t expect her executive producer to last forever.

The Katie Couric Countdown:
Seven fingers to liftoff!

Monday, August 28, 2006


Tabloid Baby passed 500,000 page views over the weekend, and as Tuesday nears are well on our way to 1,000,000 since we started keeping track in January (we told you a couple of weeks back about our 200,000+ visitors). That’s a big milestone for us, shows how fast we're growing— and more reason for advertisers to join in on the Tabloid Baby weekly webcast that’s coming soon. Thanks to all, including Our Man Elli in Israel, Rachel Dratch and the Hudson Brothers-- but not to John Mark Karr, whom we nailed as a liar early on.

Helen Mirren, ass over tit

Emmy snobbishness over Helen Mirren's British credentials and accent allowed the actress to get away with spouting a rude Britishism on last night's Emmy Awards that would have gotten a lesser, American actress censured and the network fined. But because she won an Emmy for playing a stately queen, because the guy with his finger on the bleep button probably didn't understand what she said, and because her win followed her director's, who was so up himself in his acceptance speech that you know he celebrated his win by getting spanked, she was able to lighten things up with a saucy mention of falling "ass over tit," a common Cockney expression that's been cleaned up for American ears to "head over heels."

It's worth noting that Dame Helen, who is among our finest actresses and topped all police dramas with her Prime Suspect series, is a real dame: a legendary dirty birdie, a bawdy wench once affectionately known around the Old Vic as "Shakespeare's slut," a game gal who's never been shy about getting off her kit or pulling down her knickers and going ass over tit in any number of movies from Age of Consent to Caligula.

(And if you're interested in more Page Three-style Mirren images, we found some here...)

Johnny Depp is the new Mickey Mouse

For the first time in memory, the real world is making an impact on the crowd flow beyond the fences of Disneyland, and has led the synergistic corporation to make the park's new mascot an acclaimed, non-animated hipster movie star who lives in France.

The Pirates of the Caribbean ride, an old school favorite that was always a short wait amid hour-long queues for more timely attractions, is now the hit of the park, thanks to the success of the latest Pirates movie and a makeover that includes the addition of Johnny Depp as pirate Jack Sparrow on the ride and in the ads.

Lines snake around the once-sleepy New Orleans Square. A scurvy pirate spins tales aboard the Sailing Ship Columbia ( a murderous pirate of a boat itself, having killed a tourist seven years back, when a metal cleat sprang loose and knocked his head off his body), and, in a smart corporate decision to keep parkgoers’ minds off the memories of bloated bodies floating down Front Street, a band of pirates sings chanteys where the Dixieland bands once swayed. Meanwhile, Johnny Depp is everywhere, with his photo replacing Mickey’s on the park maps, on banners along Downtown Disney and on Pirates merchandise in every store.

The success should have the Disney developers racing to scribble out Splash Mountain or Jungle Cruise scripts. And now that Spielberg is talking about another Indiana Jones installment, get ready for Harrison Ford motorized wheelchairs in 2008.

Meanwhile, the interactive Buzz Lightyear attraction over in Tomorrowland is getting more of the young male audience, and is a good example of how can throw in a video game element (riders earn points zapping targets with laser guns) while staying true to the traditional Disney themes.

But through it all, beyond the rising prices and skyrocketing hotel rates that will soon price out the young families that are the core of the park’s audience, the highlights of the park are the most timeless like the Saturday night swing band and the dancers it attracts to the Carnation Plaza Gardens pavillion (this weekend it was Stompy Jones, with a sax player who wailed like a G-rated Sam Butera).

(Disneyana expert and Hollywood Thoughts columnist Jon Crowley promises more insight into the Deppification of Pirates today. Our staffers planned to meet up with him at the ride yesterday, but we lost contact somewhere after his late arrival at the parking structure…)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Legally Blonde: Judge Judy's genius has a new star

Here's the next big daytime TV hit, and the next multimillionaire daytime TV judge, brought to you by the man who invented tabloid television, revolutionized morning news shows, created Judge Judy, and then brought Judge Joe Brown to TV riches.

Peter Brennan’s latest brainchild is Cristina’s Court, starring Spanish television star Cristina Perez, familiar to our Latin friends from her show, ‘Corte de Familia’ on Telemundo and soon to be the first Latin legal star to make the crossover to the American mainstream.

September 11th is the debut date for Cristina’s Court (see the sales tape above). The geniuses who do the scheduling probably forgot it’s the fifth anniversary a big event (and the day that 9/11 hero , becomes Father Michael Judge is eligible for sainthood), so there are bound to be pre-emptions, but it will be worth catching up with.

Brennan tells stories like no other, and his team knows the key to a successful court find cases that may not be earth-shattering but are crucially important to the people who are pressing them. They also know to find litigants who don’t look like they were scraped off the floor of Jerry Springer’s waiting room.

Young, blonde and from Colombia (though most viewers assume she's Mexican), Cristina is bound to be the next big TV judge.

Australian-born Brennan’s role in the rise and fall of tabloid television is well-documented in Tabloid Baby. He was at the helm of last year’s ill-fated relaunch of A Current Affair, which was cancelled abruptly when Fox News boss Roger Ailes took over the Fox stations and stuffed his pet Geraldo in the timeslots (Ailes actually copped the Fox News template from the tabloid television formula, taking the basic principles and injecting ugly right-wing warmongering politics into the mix).

Coincidentally, another player from the early days of tabloid television is succeeding behind the scenes with a female TV star. Big Gordon Elliott, famed for his TV “doorknocks” on Brennan's Good Day New York and A Current Affair (and other exploits recounted in Tabloid Baby), in recent years could be found on the Food Network and Campbell’s Soup ads. He discovered a Southern cooking lady named Paula Deen, whose “Paula’s Party” launches September 29, and is said to be the network’s new hope.

The reinvented Gordo has avoided us since Tabloid Baby was published at the end of 1999 (he features in some great stories, but nothing to be ashamed of!), so if you see him, send him Tabloid Baby’s best wishes!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Basketball Man making fast break toward Oscar?

Check this out. It's an early trailer for the documentary feature Basketball Man, and it's become a surprise hit on the Internet video sites, ranking high among top-rated sports videos on YouTube and on Google's new video channel.

Basketball Man tells (for the first time) the life story of the game's inventor, Dr. James Naismith, while following his grandson Ian around the country as he carries the game's 13 original typed rules in a golden attache case.

Hoop greats and legends including Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, John Wooden, Norm van Lier, Steve Nash, Kirk Hinrich, Pat Summitt, Rick Barry, NBA commissioner David Stern are featured in the picture, which premieres at a gala event at the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas.

There's already Oscar talk about this one. And no surprise, since it's the latest work from Frozen Pictures, producers of the Burt Reynolds sports movie comedy, Cloud 9, which proved hugely influential at the last Academy Awards, has become a huge hit on DVD. Frozen also made Court TV ratings history with its landmark documentary series Adults Only: The Secret History of The Other Hollywood, produced the ground-breaking docudrama series, My First Time (which made news recently when the TV Land network stole the name for some series), and whose acclaimed miniseries All The Presidents' Movies with Martin Sheen is headed for an Election Day DVD release.

Keep up with Basketball Man news here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Was Karr the cause of Cruise cut-off?

A drunken anti-Semitic screed wasn’t enough to get Disney to sever ties with Mel Gibson, but a defense of his religion and declaration of his love causes Paramount to cut its connections to the tireless, enthusiastic and multi-talented star Tom Cruise?

No way. There has to be something more.

We in the Tabloid Baby office hear it may have been another factor that led Viacom boss Sumner Redstone and company over the edge—none other than John Mark Karr.

This weekend, journalists who accompanied the bizarre Mr. Karr on his luxury plane trip from Thailand to Los Angeles reported that not only did he munch on fried shrimp and duck breast and slurp down champagne and beer—he also enjoyed watching the Tom Cruise movie, The Last Samurai.

Observers of this weird twist in the JonBenet Ramsey case will note that Cruise joins Michael Jackson as the only other celebrity name that's been associated with Karr (they and the group Chicago, whose songs Karr sings in a video acquired by The National Enquirer— imagine the money that passed hands there-- but they don’t count as celebrities).

Tenuous though the connection may be, could Karr be the cause of the Cruise cut-off?

Stranger things have happened in Hollywood. And while Redstone was fighting to reduce the terms of Cruise's deal, the timing is very suspicious. News stories connecting Karr and the star of The Last Samurai could indeed have been the last straw.

We’ve met Tom Cruise more than once, personally and professionally, and he’s always been gracious and accommodating. Tabloid Baby respects his right to practice and proclaim his religion. We respect his and Katie Holmes’ decision to keep their newborn child out of the public eye. And we found it refreshing when he departed from the publicist's script and decided to let his freak flag fly.

Mr. Redstone is out of line, especially for a guy whose own public behaviour has raised more than a few eyebrows in the corporate suites.

As for Cruise, no worries. His company will find a new home and partners. Already, our friends at Frozen Pictures, producers of the hit comedy DVD, Cloud 9, tell us they’d be anxious to work with Cruise and company any time.

A tip of the Tabloid Baby hat to editor Barry Z, who told the bosses the Cruise-Karr connection was newsworthy long before the Paramount story broke.

Bill O'Reilly makes the call on Karr

Bill O’Reilly, that pompous old hypocritical blowhard scamp, gave all of us in the Tabloid Baby office a good laugh this morning. On his radio show, he played surrepticiously recorded phone calls in which John Mark Karr unspooled his sexual fantasies.

Then O’Reilly said the guy was a “sick SOB”!

You should know, pal! Pass the loofah…

Meanwhile: "We're not going to leave Iraq..."

From The
Rocky Mountain News: The home in Hamilton, Ala., where John Mark Karr lived before and after JonBenet Ramsey's death has been vacant since 2001. The dust is still undisturbed there, as local law enforcement agents scratch their heads about the fact that no one from Boulder has requested a search warrant for the property.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

We knew he looked familiar...

Home Fries Security

Look who's bringing liquids to the airport.

We'd stopped off for a coffee in Marina del Rey on the way in to the Tabloid Baby offices this morning around 7:45, when a police motorcade pulled up behind us. We expected to see the mayor get out of the Town Car. It turned out to be Michael Chertoff and his wife Meryl.

The United States Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security wasn't the ominous Bergmanesque presence of his news conferences. In fact, he was downright jovial, stepping up to shake our hand, spending about fifteen minute inside Joni's Cafe, buying his own breakfast, pressing plots of flesh and assuring us that his intention is to keep us all safe.

We told Chertoff we were at LaGuardia Airport on the day of the liquids scare and said we couldn’t feel much safer than that. He appreciated the irony.

One of his bodyguards checked out our camera, and after whispering into his transmitter, gave us permission for this exclusive photo. Chertoff sped off toward LAX. Our bet is that they let him bring the coffee on the plane.

photo © tabloidbaby.com

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Between the Lines: John Karr & the nutty professor

There's a good story lurking between the lines in the bizarre case of JonBenet murder suspect John Mark Karr.

And when it comes to side-stepping it, the New York Times (its National section is where we’ve always gone for legitimate tabloid news reporting) seems to be as good a place as any to start:

A series of leaked e-mail exchanges between a University of Colorado professor and a man believed to be John M. Karr, the suspect in the 1996 killing of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, were spread on the public record Friday, portraying Mr. Karr as obsessed with the youngster...

Michael Tracey, the University of Colorado journalism professor who conducted a four-year e-mail correspondence with someone who used a pseudonym-- someone the authorities have identified as Mr. Karr, Professor Tracey said-- went into seclusion Friday after The Rocky Mountain News published a sample of the e-mail that Mr. Tracey said had been crucial to the arrest…

Okay, we’ve heard a lot about JMK. But who is Michael Tracey? It’s common practice among journalists to repeat “factoids” (often inaccurate statements) when identifying a player in a story— it’s usually the first thing that was written about the person, copied and repeated in story after story.

In this case, from the beginning, Michael Tracey has been identified as a) a journalism professor (giving him credibility) and b) a documentary filmmaker (making him one of the journo pack—and an expert). But there’s apparently more to Professor Tracey, and oddly, it’s taken a self-described mercenary journo in Palm Beach, Florida to bring it to the surface.

On Thursday, while journos were scrambling and talking heads were putting on makeup and we were questioning Karr’s story, Tony Ortega of the Broward-Palm Beach New Times had already gone deeper. Like a truly great tabloid journalist, he pulled out the story between the lines, and ran with it while everyone else was fawning over Karr.

Legendary Florida investigative reporter Bob Norman had the link on his essential Daily Pulp site yesterday. We’ve sat back to see who else followed the lead. As far as we can tell, no one has, so head to the article:

This isn't the first time Colorado University Professor Michael Tracey has caused a stir by fingering a “prime suspect” in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case — only to be proved wrong.

In 2004, Tracey, a British expatriate journalism professor and documentarian, produced a film about the Ramsey murder that aired on British television but not in the United States. By then, however, Tracey was already considered a notorious developer of false leads by a large group of Internet sleuths who congregated at Forums for Justice, a website started by a radio disc jockey named Tricia Griffith.

"If you know the case and you watch Tracey's documentaries, they're filled with blatant lies. It's so easily proven," Griffith says… In Tracey's 2004 documentary, Who Killed the Pageant Queen?, the professor claimed to have stunning new evidence that was leading police to a previously unidentified "prime suspect." The documentary claimed that police were trying unsuccessfully to track down the man because he had gone "underground."

…Tracey's "prime suspect" turned out to be John Steven Gigax… However, contrary to Tracey's claim that Gigax was underground and untraceable, Griffith found him in ten minutes with a simple Google search… Griffith says Gigax immediately contacted Boulder police to see if they were really looking for him. They weren't…

After debunking Tracey's documentary, Griffith put out a news release but she says she got no media interest from it.

But what do we know? Maybe the DA has the goods, after all. Maybe there’s DNA evidence that will prove Karr is the killer of JonBenet. Maybe Karr slipped away from his loving family on Christmas and flew from Alabama to Boulder without anyone noticing. Maybe that Santa Claus bear isn‘t a red herring after all. And did you read that his mother raised him as a girl?

Meanwhile, we get the creeps every time we see that once-familiar video of the little girl all painted up and preening like a little hussy, her lipstick, mascara and perfect teeth shining even in the Christmas photos. We wonder what kind of parents would do that to their little girl. And then we wonder if this will help or hurt the box office for Little Miss Sunshine.

It’s always the story between the lines.

A tip of the Tabloid Baby hat to Tony Ortega for writing this story first… and to hard-boiled Bob Norman for taking it to the world.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Not Pretty Enough for Prime Time

There’s a Hollywood lesson behind the scenes of Lorne Michaels’ new Saturday Night Live-inspired behind-the-scenes sitcom.

An ugly lesson!

SNL grandfather Michaels forced NBC to take '30' Rock after he threw a hissy fit when the network bought Aaron Sorkin’s SNL-inspired dramedy 'Studio 60' (starring D.L. Hughley, riding high from his role in the DVD laugh-fest, Cloud 9). His star writer Tina Fey (who helped turn SNL's comedy focus from politics to Lindsay Lohan's crowd) got to helm and star in the show, and in a cute display of aging "girl power," she got her best friend from SNL, the tiny, homely Rachel Dratch, to co-star as Jenna DeCarlo, an actress in the SNLish show-within-a-show.

Until this week, that is, when Michaels told Variety “that role has been scrapped and Dratch will play an assortment of different characters throughout the season.”

"Both Tina and I obviously adore Rachel, and we wanted to find a way in which we could go to her strength," Michaels told the magazine. "The way it's been rewritten, it's a much funnier part."

In Hollywood, that's called "letting her down easy," because a day later it's revealed that Jenna DeCarlo lives after all! Only little gnomy Rachels’s been replaced by Jane Krakowski-- a face and body more suitable to prime time. That’s television. That’s what Michaels gets for thinking he has the right to parody his own lame show. That’s what he gets for being responsible for the worst movie comedies of the past thirty years. And that’s the behind-the-scenes drama we’d tune in to see.