Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Defamer praises Tabloid Baby!

Thanks to Defamer, Hollywood’s most influential website,the antidote to Entertainment Tonight, Pat O’Brien and that guy from Sugar Ray, the very funny, tuned-in, smart site that’s at the top of our bookmarks, for its tip-of-the-hat to its spiritual godfather and dutch uncle, Tabloid Baby, and our recent comparison of the new DVD comedy classic Cloud 9 and today's Oscar-nominated ensemble drama:

“This is easily the best blog post comparing Crash and a straight-to-video volleyball movie we’ve ever read."


ABC newsman Bob Woodruff is transferred to Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington D.C., where President Bush will defend the war in Iraq in tonight's State of The Union address.

The sign refers to Woodruff's head.

Oscar Trivia! Crash & Cloud 9

Cloud 9, the new ensemble motion picture comedy written and produced by Burt Kearns and Brett Hudson of Frozen Pictures and Academy Award winner Albert S. Ruddy, has lots in common with the ensemble drama, Crash, nominated today for the Best Picture Oscar.

Crash’s director and co-writer is Paul Haggis, who wrote Million Dollar Baby, which gave Ruddy his second Best Picture Oscar (The Godfather was the first). Ruddy signed the Million Dollar Baby deal with director Clint Eastwood on the Cloud 9 set in Pacific Palisades. (Before Eastwood came on board, Crash star Sandra Bullock was the original choice for the Hilary Swank role in Baby. She lost out because the studio wouldn’t accept her demand that Haggis to direct. Though she denied the story, her role in Crash supports it).

Ken Garito, who has a role in Crash, stars as bartender Tommy Z in Cloud 9.

Tony Danza has cameo roles in Crash and Cloud 9.

Both Crash and Cloud 9 are set in Los Angeles.

Crash tackles racism and classism.

Cloud 9 satirizes racism and classism.

Crash and Cloud 9 both have fight scenes.

Crash actor Daniel Dae Kim and Cloud 9 writer/producer Burt Kearns had kids in the same preschool class.

Both films were shot in 2004.

Cloud 9 was released by 20th Century Fox on DVD January 3rd, hitting the Top 5 of premiere releases, but skipping domestic theatres and missing out on Oscar consideration.

Tale of the Tape:
Cloud 9 vs Crash Cast Comparisons

Burt Reynolds... Matt Dillon
DL Hughley... Don Cheadle
Paul Rodriguez... Daniel Dae Kim
Paul Wesley... Ryan Philippe
Angie Everhart... Sandra Bullock
Gabrielle Reese... Jennifer Esposito
Kenya Moore... Thandie Newton
Rick Overton... Brendan Fraser
Pat Finn... Terrence Howard
Ken Garito... Ken Garito
Tony Danza... Tony Danza
Tom Arnold... Keith David
Bruce Bruce... Larenz Tate
Gary Busey... Ludacris

Good night, and bad history

We don’t mind that George Clooney was nominated for a few Oscars. He deserves one. He’s a movie star in the old mold, he’s made some entertaining pictures, used his hard-won fame wisely, and was smart enough to team up with Steven Soderbergh, giving the director charisma by proxy and getting himself big help with the storyboards and in the editing room when it comes to directing.

But there’s big problems with his picture, Good Night, and Good Luck, that go beyond the annoying comma. George Clooney, debonair as he is, ain’t the person to lecture us about journalism with a movie that’s basically a lie.

We’ll skip the destructive nature of the glorification of the supposed Golden Era of CBS News and the canonization of Edward R. Murrow. Simply put, Murrow did not put CBS at risk by going after red-baiting lunatic Senator Joseph McCarthy. Nor did he bring McCarthy down. By the time CBS went after the story, it was safe to go into the water. President Truman had already described McCarthy as "the best asset the Kremlin has." Fellow senators had targeted him, and the U.S. Army was already making legal preparations for a showdown before another Senate committee. These hearings, which began on April 22, 1954, ruined McCarthy.

Clooney twisted well-known facts, distorted history, added drama and stacked the deck to make his points.

And he wasn’t fair. Clooney and Co. have been hailed for using actual documentary footage of villain Joe McCarthy instead of hiring an actor. But McCarthy was from an era in which not even public figures were ready for their soundbites. No hairspray, makeup, crafted dialogue or second takes, as Clooney’s Murrow was given. Clooney would have been brave if he evened the score a bit by having McCarthy portrayed by a great actor like John C. Reilly, Tommy Lee Jones or Joaquin Phoenix (remember Ike Turner in What’s Love Got To Do with It).

But Clooney’s not a journalist. He’s not even all that smart. He’s a very handsome Hollywood actor who can attract great collaborators.

Clooney’s a champion of the First Amendment as long as he gets dispensation. You have to remember, he first made journalism history when it was revealed that he cut a deal with Paramount Pictures, promising cooperation with Entertainment Tonight if Paramount kept him off Hard Copy. Paramount actually put the deal in writing, and when someone at Hard Copy accidentally put Clooney in a story, the star went public with the embarrassing deal and began a boycott of ET.

Hollywood fun fact: Clooney’s partner Soderbergh is married to former Hard Copy reporter Jules Asner.

Ironically, Clooney set himself up as the great enemy of tabloid television. But his hero, Edward R. Murrow, invented tabloid television with his Person to Person. His show, featuring interviews with Hollywood stars in their homes, was an early ass-kissing experiment in the type of programming that became Entertainment Tonight.

But it’s Hollywood.

Clooney will provide the sole bit of old school Hollywood glamour at the Oscars. He’ll literally be the “straight man” in the crowd. So he’ll win something. Possibly he’ll get the Affleck-Damon screenwriting award. Maybe even the Gibson-Costner directing statue.

Tabloid Baby’s early picks: Best Picture: Brokeback Mountain; Best Director: Ang Lee; Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman; Best actress: Reese Witherspoon; Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti; Supporting Actress: Michelle Williams; Adapted Screenplay: Brokeback; Original Screenplay: Clooney and his partner the writer.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Exclusive! Dimond comes clean on Jacko past!

Perhaps sensing a James Frey-like scandal brewing, Diane Dimond, author of a recent book on Michael Jackson’s travails, is coming clean on the history of her involvement in the Jackson case.

Ostensibly, Diamond’s letter to the editor in the January 23rd issue of Broadcasting & Cable magazine is a complaint about an earlier B&C item that a) revealed that her book sold only 5,000 copies despite a massive advertising campaign; b) referred to her as “Jackson’s near stalker”; c) said her book’s title is “stomach-churning”; and d) spelled her name wrong.

But Dimond uses the letter to carefully document her involvement with the Jackson case. Because just as James Frey exaggerated and lied about his past, so has Diane Dimond used television and radio appearances over the past two and a half years to exaggerate the history of her crusade against Michael Jackson.

“My book is not selling as well as I’d like, and I have no argument with you reporting that,” Dimond writes in her letter to Broadcasting & Cable (available to subscribers on its website).

“But I am not a ‘near stalker,’ as your staff reported. I am a journalist who has followed the Michael Jackson case closely since first breaking the news in 1993 that Mr. Jackson was under investigation for pedophilia.

“After the mid ‘90s, I did absolutely no stories about Jackson. None. Zilch.”

Whether Dimond and Hard Copy “broke the news” on Jacko’s troubles can be disputed easily (see Tabloid Baby, now subject of a grassroots campaign to be made an Oprah’s Book Club selection). But she does now admit she was not involved with the story as early as 1989, when A Current Affair got its hands on Michael Jackson’s home videos (the tapes did not air at that time, and the story behind them was only revealed in Tabloid Baby). Nor has she, as she's stated in numerous interviews, been investigating the Jackson case for the past decade.

Dimond became embroiled in the Jackson case in 1993, after Jackson sued her and Hard Copy over a story the show purchased and she’d fronted. In 2003, the Santa Barbara D.A. (who assisted her in that lawsuit) tipped her to his raid of Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.

The scoop and a shared Jackson enmity with the prosecutor led to Dimond’s binge as an openly-biased, prosecutorial reporter in the Jackson molestation case, a gambit that clearly staked her professional future on Jacko’s conviction—and ultimately led to her downfall when the star was acquitted.

She ended her letter to Broadcasting & Cable by complaining:

“Oh and by the way, a quick Google check would have revealed to your staff that they also spelled my last name wrong.”

Ironically, in a recent post to this blog, Dimond spelled Burt Kearns' name wrong!

(As visitors to this site know, Diane Dimond’s tabloid television career benefited greatly from the tutelage, expertise and writing skills of Tabloid Baby’s author. Yet, when Tabloid Baby was published, Diane, along with Tom Brokaw, helped lead a media blackout of the book. Despite the blacklisting, Tabloid Baby sold far more copies than did Dimond’s book.)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Black Bart Brennan, a good old dog

Tabloid television creator, innovator and godfather Peter Brennan sent out the following email this evening:

"The original 'Tabloid Dog,' Black Bart Brennan, has passed on, aged 18 years (human). Bart, adopted from the West LA pound in 1990, was the Black Lab-Chihuahua mix whose immense IQ was purposely never measured against the tabloid producers who for years would come to visit him, first at his Coldwater Canyon home and in later years at Slash's old house on Sunset Plaza Drive. Bart refused to chase balls, mix with other dogs and most humans. He is missed by his best friends Fletch and Ali."

Bart was a good old dog. He witnessed or participated in many an adventure. He was very lucky to have Fletcher and Ali as his pals, especially in the final months. We said our goodbyes to old Black Bart on New Year’s Eve. Long may he run.

Falafel with Hamas: Israel's Terror Top 10

Our Man Elli in Israel, an original regular contributor to Tabloidbaby.com's popular Stories to Steal page, keeps us updated by email with the latest jokes, cartoons, conspiracies and articles floating through the Internet.

At last, he checks in with Israeli reaction to the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections:

Top Ten Good Things
to Come Out of the Hamas Election Victory:

10. 95% of winning candidates will probably blow themselves up by end of first term
9. Government officials now easily recognizable from their FBI Most Wanted Terrorist Mugshots
8. Finally a government to compete with Iran for prize of Most Psychotic Government
7. Allows AP to title pics of kids dressed in Suicide-Bomber costumes with the line "Kids dress up as favorite Government officials"
6. Palestinian C-Span channel will probably have parental advisory for graphic violence
5. May encourage al-Qaeda sleeper cell members to abandon terrorist plots in favor of seeking cushy government desk jobs
4. Any political filibuster in the new Pali-gov. would now probably be deemed as "fighting the war on terror"
3. Now calling the Palestinian government a "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" is just wrong
2. Finally allows for Hamas version of the TV show "West Wing," which promises to be just like the show "24," just from the terrorists' perspective
1. Makes answering the question "Do the Palestinian people support terrorism?" a no brainer

Our Man Elli in Israel is a veteran journalist and writer whom we worked with in a New York City television newsroom many years ago.

Based in Jerusalem for more than a decade, he's subject of the Frozen Pictures documentary feature, Sex & Baseball, currently in production.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Alt weaklies

The creative writing pieces are never the attraction to the free “alternative” weeklies. That’s the listings and the occasional great investigative reporting (see Bob Norman). But the LA Weekly really has some cleaning up to do.

Coincidental to the James Frey scandal (and grassroots movement to make Tabloid Baby an Oprah’s Book Club selection), the paper unmasks another literary phony, a fake Navajo named Nasdijj, who until now has flown under our radar. But in the same issue, it’s the columnist Dave Shulman who’s got us scratching our heads. He writes a story about living in someone’s garage and hearing a neighbor playing drums. And in the eighth graph, he throws in this line:

“This was before public schools were abolished and the education system privatized into an unfettered marketing tool to teach youth only the morality of fascism, the skills necessary to work for whatever companies own the schools, and the elemental desire for brand-specific soaps and beers and afterlives.”

What the hell does that mean?

Does it make sense? Does he have kids in his garage that go to public school? We do. Are we missing an ultra-hip joke? Yeah, right. More likely, there, in one sentence in Column Dave, is the problem with alt weeklies, circa 2006. Somebody needs an editor, a private place to wank and a fresh copy of Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Pros to Oprah: "Tabloid Baby memoir 100% true!"

“Yes, Oprah. Every character in my book was based on a real person. Yes, there was a real Lilly. Of course I changed distinguishing characteristics and the way she died. I didn’t want her exploited by websites like The Smoking Gun. I didn’t want police crime scene photos showing up on the Internet. Of course I had two root canals without Novacaine or anaesthesia. That’s something I’d never forget. Prove otherwise! The prison bit? It was metaphorical! I’m an author! What is your problem, lady? This is my life! This is my memoir. Leonard, Lilly, everyone is real! Of course I took a little dramatic license. It’s a book, not a journal! I stand by my book! Apologize? I apologize for nothing!”

It was that easy. Why didn’t James Frey say something like that? Why didn’t he stand up for his book? Why did he take the Pat O'Brien spanking? He had weeks to prepare a defense. What is it with this guy? It makes you wonder what kind of fix was in.

Then again, it opens the door to the grassroots campaign to, as one Tabloid Baby reader posts, “wipe the stain of James Frey from Oprah's couch.” You can nominate Tabloid Baby as an Oprah’s Book Club selection!

There is no embellishment in Tabloid Baby. Every word is guaranteed 100% for real. The story is true!

Just ask some of the media heavyweights who’ll testify to its, well, truthiness:

Mike Wallace of ‘60 Minutes’: “Sad, funny, undeniably authentic!”

Maury Povich: “Burt was there for the birthing of tabloid, he became the heart of the genre, and now he’s written the Bible!”

J Max Robins of Broadcasting & Cable magazine: “I can corroborate how accurately he captures the era!”

The Australian newspaper of Sydney, Australia: ”Kearns tells it all in a vivid, brutally honest account that is riveting!”

Today’s Librarian magazine:” “A master at taking the reader behind the scenes, Kearns relates the down and dirty to us—all first hand!”

Steve Dunleavy of The New York Post: “I normally would have sued the son-of-a-gun for what he wrote about me, but I can't -- it's all doggone true!”

The Straits Times of Singapore: “Pop culture history of the best sort!”

The LA Weekly: “He describes, in vomit-in-the-office-trash-can detail!”

Chaunce Hayden: “I swear to God, Tabloid Baby is the real deal. No one has the balls to write what he wrote, knowing the consequences!”

John Austin of the Hollywood Inside Syndicate: “Tabloid Baby could even be considered The Front Page of the millennium, the Boogie Nights of journalism!”

Cable TV legend Dr. Franklin Ruehl: “Earns my highest commendation!”

Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Eames Yates: “Tabloid Baby tells a truth that I have demanded from myself and others!”

More to come! meanwhile, email Oprah here. Remind her of the importance of the truth.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Make 'Tabloid Baby' an Oprah's Book

Word spreads this morning that Oprah has reversed her defense of A Million Little Lies and is kicking Jimmy Frey’s ass on live TV. Gawker has a great play-by-play that’s so outlandish we thought it was parody.

Funniest line is from the New York Times, though, which notes that “...ABC News interrupted the (Chicago) broadcast to televise President Bush's news conference…” One big liar interrupted by a bigger, fatter liar, ha ha.

But here’s what gets us. Frey wrote a painful and entertaining “memoir.” He made it up. It was fiction. He didn’t really have a bloody hole in his cheek when he boarded an airliner. He’s not a big, tough Fight Clubber, but a chubby mama’s boy with a voice like Elmer Fudd. He likes the work of Jay McInerney and Brett Easton Ellis. He probably killed a few gullible readers by directing them away from legitimate rehab.

And he gets not one, but TWO hours on Oprah.

The author of Tabloid Baby didn’t get on Oprah's show at all.

Tabloid Baby is a true, nonfiction, real, contemporary memoir of abuse and redemption. If we must say so ourselves, it's the anti-A Million Little Pieces, the standard by which all other memoirs can be measured. The book weaves a compelling tale of real-life tough guys, powerful media figures, and everyday alcohol abusing blokes, while documenting their true-life adventures along the way. Its Lillies and Leonards are real people, with photos to prove it. They are richer than fiction.

Tabloid Baby's hero really does suffer a hole in his cheek (Chapter 14)! Witnesses and medical records back up the fact!

The main characters do indeed abuse alcohol (any chapter)! Bar receipts prove it!

Tabloid Baby sends a message that Oprah would want to carry through all the world!

And Oprah ignores it.

The best thing James Frey can do is get back on the crack.

Oprah can let the healing begin by featuring Tabloid Baby as her Oprah’s Book Club selection.

So let the grassroots
email campaign begin!

Email Oprah’s Book Club. Tell Oprah that you want to see Tabloid Baby as Oprah’s Book Club selection.

Show Oprah the power of the truth.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Joel Stein is one cynical bastard

Ooh. Joel Stein is all excited. Someone noticed his column. People are threatening his life. He stands by his column. He’s a regular Judy Miller. And all he had to say was “I don’t support our troops.”

But we don’t think he means it. Do you think he means it? It's kind of obvious he’s looking for attention for his column in the LA Times. No?

Joel Stein is a weisenheimer who writes a “humour” column. He’s happily lightweight, more suitable as one of those VH-1 “We Love The 70s” talking heads, offering quips about Lee Majors and The Hudson Brothers (disclosure: Tabloid Baby author Burt Kearns appeared as a talking head in some of those VH-1 specials). The word “snarky” was invented to describe him. He shouldn’t be allowed to write about serious stuff.

But Stein is an old person’s idea of young person’s point of view, so he managed to get a spot in Time magazine, and when Michael Kinsley took over and tried to “hip up” the L.A. Times editorial pages, a Sunday column there. It was the most useless, irrelevant and, well, “snarky,” LA Times column since Chicago sports writer Mike Downey temporarily moved to, then lost, the coveted page 2 spot.

After Kinsley left his mess behind at the LA Times, Stein was removed from the Sunday pages and, probably due to his Kinsley contract, given a midweek column.

No one paid it much heed until yesterday, when Stein wrote “I don’t support our troops.”

The reaction has been scripted and played out many times before. It’s been played out before. He writes the column, the right wing dunderheads stand on their bully pulpits and denounce him, the paper is flooded with letters, calls and emails, subscriptions are canceled, and Joel Stein gets to report that he’s received death threats. He’ll show up on TV, he’ll get on the lecture circuit-- heck, he might even sell a script in Hollywood.

Of course, Stein offered a "serious" explanation for his incendiary lead. But he knew no one would read further. He knew he was throwing a bomb. And he needed to, so he'd be noticed.

Now if Joel Stein turns up dead or tarred and feathered, we apologize in advance. And of course he has the right to write whatever he wants. And he may even be right.

But one thing seems certain: Joel Stein is one cynical bastard.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Best Damn Sports Show. With Periods.

The greatest show on television right now is Skating with Celebrities.

It’s the best hour on TV: compelling, funny, dramatic, edge-of-your seat, yell-back-at-the screen television entertainment, perfect for family viewing and a great poke in the ribs of celebutard culture.

And they fall!

We’re only disappointed and slightly uncomfortable that last night the first celebrity to be booted off the show was Todd Bridges, the only African American contestant. Especially after they had him skating in an Afro wig reminiscent of OJ in The Naked Gun 33 1/3.

Then again, it wasn’t as shocking and distasteful as The Amazing Race picking a family named “Black” as its only African American contenders, then kicking off “The Black Family” first.

Anyway, Skating with Celebrities is a brilliant rip of that dancing show. Mike Darnell is a genius.

As for the skating stars:

If Dave Coulier hangs in, this could be the next step to his TV comeback. Every new generation of kids loves Joey from Full House reruns, and he’s far less annoying and even a welcome TV presence in his middle age. Give this guy another sitcom!

Same with Jillian Barberie.

She’s always been a vulgar figure on television, but here she’s been re-invented, confoundingly, as a classy jock. She knows how to skate. And though she lost points by kissing Dorothy Hamill’s ass, she helped herself by thinking twice before mouthing back to the old queen in the Simon Cowell role.

Bruce Jenner’s plastic surgery sure does make him look feminine. Even though he keeps talking about playing golf with his buddies, he looks downright weird. Maybe that’s why they keep showing his wife and daughters in the crowd.

(Another OJ connection: his wife used to be married to Robert Kardashian).

Kristy Swanson has taken a harder fall than she is about to take next week on the ice. Deborah Gibson definitely got some heavy airbrushing and Photoshop ass-slimming on her Playboy spread. Isn’t Tai Babilonia married to David Brenner? And those male pro skaters all scream "gay" (the little one was scared by the all the facial piercings on one guy). So why does the old queenie judge want the women to show a closer connection to them? It’s just another layer to this A+ program!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Happy Birthday, Steve Dunleavy!

This just in! Steve Dunleavy celebrated a birthday on Saturday. Sixty-eight glorious, hellacious, spectacular, tabloid-ridden years!

All of us at Tabloid Baby raise our glasses and shout:
Happy birthday, Steve!
And many more ahead!

"...The ageless legend with his silver pompadour, eagle beak profile and rakish charisma...the paragon of everything that made journalism romantic and dangerous..."
--from Tabloid Baby