Celebri-spiral™: Enough Already

Our culture is in a celebri-spiral. We're conflicted over our ridiculous, growing celebrity culture consumption via magazines, websites, and TV shows. In 2007, my love/hate conflict made me take to the blog-o-sphere. All writing on this site © Dave Singleton 2009.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

March 31, 2007: What We Call The Celebri-spiraling News

If you haven't seen the latest JibJab video, here is What We Call The News, with a wacky but fair assessment of celebri-spiraling news standards, which have worsened over the last few years.

Appropriately, it made its debut at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association Dinner, which had some ick-worthy moments, especially this gross Karl Rove rap, and "corresponding" David Gregory clap-dance. Read Politico's coverage for a good analysis of the fallout. Talk about crossing the line. Is there even a line to cross anymore, other than perhaps a Conga line?

Friday, March 30, 2007

March 30, 2007: Join My Friday Celebri-Purge

I stop for a second, close my eyes and see before me a week's worth of celebrity images that dance like cracked-out sugarplums in the childish, dreamlike recesses of my mind. By blogging these thoughts and images, I will purge them from my mind and start fresh, which is my goal.

I am not going into my weekend thinking about any of the following:

  1. That woman's coroner report with its black and white celebration of her pink hair extensions, tattoos, and unremarkable anus.
  2. Virgie Arthur in a moo-moo, racing across the street from her Bahamian Hotel to score a Big Mac and fries, as media reporters caught the quite familiar scene on tape yet again. Hey, mamasita, go see SuperSize Me, OK?
  3. Sanjaya's flaming faux-hawk, and by the way, the hair isn't all that's flaming. I saw way too many interviews with Princess Jasmine Sanjaya, and her Weho Idol Stylist. For one last time before you purge, play with the Washington Post's online paper doll cut-outs of Sanjaya hair options. (thanks to Sabotrix for sending). Before your final celebri-fare-thee-well, check out the numerous similarities between Sanjaya and Mowgli from Jungle Book.
  4. Britney's divorce and custody agreement finalized. Britney and Kevin split the trailer, and Promises gets the kids.
  5. Halle Berry and her suicide attempt a couple of decades ago. Maya and Oprah need to swoop in and do an intervention on Halle, or at least tape her drama-queen mouth shut. Forget trying to be the recent Oscar winner with the saddest, toughest past. Charlize "My mother shot my father and she'll shoot you, too, if you don't shut the fuck up" Theron and Hillary "I lived in a VW until I was 23" Swank have cornered that market.
  6. More down home sadness for the Judd's as Wy files for a big-old-Tammy-Wynette-style d-i-v-o-r-c-e from wacko husband who faces sexual battery charges against a minor.
  7. Jonathan Rhys Myers and his pouty lips, which are everywhere as The Tudors premieres on Showtime. He might be a fem metrosexual in real life, as Scarlett Johanson revealed when she said he was only interested in shoe shopping. But he does a bang up job playing a macho lust machine. Still, I have to let him go. It's not healthy.
  8. The unrelenting schadenfreude of possible jail time for Paris.
  9. Ricky Martin's support for gay pop stars. Not him, of course. As he once told Oprah, when he thinks about those things too much, he just does yoga. Yeah, bring on the down dog, baby. It's just like that.
  10. The fabulous I Heart Huckabees Blowup Video between Lily Tomlin and David O. (stands for O-h My God, I Am Deranged) Russell, and the blissful rumor that George Clooney leaked it.
What's on your Friday Celebri-purge list?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

March 29, 2007: Dean and Britta. No Celebri-spiral Needed

When I was in Arizona last month, I discovered Lux, the amazacular coffee shop/art gallery in Phoenix.

Happy in Phoenix at some cool hangout in the hot desert? Was I experiencing a mirage? No. It was over-the-top-great coffee, food, design, people, and music. I spent a lot of time there, writing, getting wired on the java, and listening to music that the Assistant Manager played.

She focused on a group called Luna, and I learned that they were fronted by Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, who ended Luna and became simply Dean and Britta. Think retro 60's Dusty Springfield meets Nancy Sinatra with Lee Hazelwood meets a trance-loungey vibe.

I don't know anything about D&B other than their music, pictures, and what little their website tells me. I am going to see them tonight at DC's Black Cat, and I can't wait.

Some of the best times I have had this year have been discovering musicians and seeing their concerts; Josh Groban, Josh Ritter, and now Dean and Britta. All of these discoveries were referrals from people. I didn't see these artists getting trashed at Diddy's St. Tropez party, dating Tara Reid, or puking with Lindsay Lohan on the cover of Star Magazine.

I experience great satisfaction when I break out of this celebri-spiraling culture and discover art, movies, music, books, and life without the faded, dirty tinsel of celebrity driving either the product or my interest in it.

The music is plenty edgy. What it does to the imagination is edgy, too. So don't give me grief about being too sentimental or taking a break from the faux-edge of celebri-crap.

No celebri-spiral, or trashy celebri-marketing, was needed to get them on my radar. Their new album is Back Numbers. Check it out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

March 28, 2007: Spring Cleaning, Buh Bye Celebri-spiral Magazines

It's spring cleaning time and first steps first. I traverse my home collecting an unwieldy collection of stray magazines, put them in a pile, and wonder how I will ever get through them, knowing that I am incapable of throwing them out before checking them out,

Too much media, not enough time to go through it all, and an inability to just say no; this is my Mt. Everest.

I am not willing to admit where I get these magazines; well, OK, maybe I will tell you. Some I buy, some I "find", some are donated by friends who save their US magazines for me, knowing I am too conflicted to fork over the $3.49 to buy my own.

But there they are. Vanity Fair issues calling out Old Hollywood, US magazine with "shocking revelations" about that woman whose name I shall no longer utter, and The Advocate, with this month's gay-friendly celebrity du jour.

The celebrity media rags sit in a pile taunting me, along with a few copies of Men's Health, House Beautiful, and Esquire, ostensibly focused on fitness, home, and writing, respectively. But the truth is that each of these also features celebs on the cover. Read us, read us. But no, I hold back. For now. One lone issue of Real Simple is set apart, espousing the joys of simplicity. That one is a keeper. I might cancel my subscription to Entertainment Tonight in favor of Horse and Hound, We'll see. But for now, the stack sits in my kitchen untouched.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

March 27, 2007: Anna, Sweet Baby Anna, Stop Me Before I Read More

It is my intention to never read or watch more about Anna Nicole Smith.

While minding my own business, I am overtaken by the tidal wave of announcements about her official cause of death.

I don't want to know, but I can't help myself. I turn on Entertainment Tonight, only to find that Mark Steines is....on vacation? Whaaaaat? You mean he extricated his nose from Howard K. Stern's ass long enough to take a trip somewhere other than the Bahamas? Now? Of all times.

Some 2nd string reporter gives us the lowdown about the accidental overdose, then says for more info we can find the full coroner's autopsy report online. Off to CNN I race. The details are mostly snooze-worthy, except for choice nuggets like:

  • 7 drugs were found in her system. But no TrimSpa, people. However, officials found a can of Slim-Fast on the nightstand next to her bed.
  • There are multiple blonde hair extensions including several pink strands attached to the natural hair, which shows light brown roots. Even in death, hair extensions live on.
  • The toenails are short and clean. Girlfriend might have been deathly ill, but she had a pedicure. That, people, is true commitment to grooming.
  • Tattoos: There is a pair of red lips in the right lower abdominal quadrant. Two red cherries are on the right mid pelvis. A “Playboy Bunny” is on the left anterior mid pelvis. The words “Daniel” and “Papas” are on the mid anterior pelvis region. A mixed tattoo on the right lower leg and ankle represents: Christ’s head; Our Lady of Guadalupe; the Holy Bible; the naked torso of a woman; the smiling face of Marilyn Monroe; a cross; a heart and shooting flames. A mermaid on a flower bed with a pair of lips underneath it laying across the lower back. Jesus, Anna was inked. Marilyn I get, but a tatt of Christ's head?
  • The genitalia are those of a normally developed adult woman. There is no evidence of injury. There is evidence, however, of a vaginal life lived fully. Let's leave it at that.
  • The anus is unremarkable. This, my friends, is called celebrity TMI.
Then a quick channel surf to Access Hollywood to see Larry "Not a Highlight Out of Place" Birkhead saying all he wants is his daughter. Predictable. Tell us the real reason you dumped your lawyer Debra Opri! What were you and Stern cooking up that made Opri bolt?

Finally, my last stop is Larry King. Virgie's family is sorry the Coroner's report doesn't say something Clue-ish like, "Howard did it with the candlestick in the ballroom while Colonel Mustard watched." Howard's lawyer says he's too busy denying vindication to acknowledge that it was a vindication. Larry's new lady lawyers, who look like Florida Romy and Michelle Twenty Years Later, appear baffled by the entire proceedings. Entertainment reporters add absolutely nothing new. Coroner Perper appears to add a final touch of dignity as he says, "case closed."

If you see me on the street, wave, but don't bring this topic up, OK? Don't enable me. I have to let go.

Monday, March 26, 2007

March 26, 2007: Goddamn Celebrity Hack

Do you see what I am up against? More juvenile Celebri-spiraling that's probably at the maturity level of Calvin and Hobbs.

Here I am, your Super Celebri-spiraler! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap over crappy tabloid websites with a single bound! Fighting for the rights of good people to lead a less celebrity culture-driven life.

And yet, I'm still up against it when sites
like Celebrity Hack spring up like crabgrass. Goddamn them.

Here's how this relatively new kid on the celebrity snark block promotes itself:

Celebrity Hack Now With 2/3 Less Integrity! In the old days, a “celebrity hack” was a two-bit tabloid reporter who dug up dirt on the stars. These days, we have bloggers. Big improvement. But hey… who are you to judge? What the hell are you doing here anyway, looking for reference material for your thesis on 19th Century Russian literature? I’ve got two tips for you: 1. Subscribe to Celebrity Hack, and 2. Dostoyevsky beats Tolstoy with most professors.

We’re in the Stupid Celebrity Business… and Business is Good. Because life sucks, you need diversions, and this crap is free... Sign up for updates, would ya?

Jesus, Mary, and Britney! This is just what we need now. More of the snarky same. It's smart-ass delicious, but it's the celebrity equivalent of a Big Mac-not good for us. You are going there aren't you? No! Don't! Fight the evil urge to celebri-spiral! Aw crap, too late. I am soooo not proud of you for doing that. At least my visit was research.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

March 25, 2007: Sunday Celebri-spiral Haiku

Sunday is new magazine delivery day. That means fresh shipments of US, People, Star and all the celebrity weeklies piled in trucks, wending their way across the country, ready to titillate the masses as we visit newsstands, wait in grocery markets, and hang out in bookstores.

Deserving of a celebri-spiral haiku? I think so.

Divorce death rehab
Sunday brings heinous
star news
Old trees died for this

Saturday, March 24, 2007

March 24, 2007: Social Journalism Crosses Line, Causes Celebri-spiral

Social issues are to journalists what buying domain names were to dot com'ers a few years ago. They are all the rage. You better get a good one now! In fact, get several, just in case. It's smart business, especially in a media environment where lines have blurred between reporter and story.

According to a recent USA Today article More Reporters Embrace an Advocacy Role:

The "social journalism" that made Oprah Winfrey an international fairy godmother is the new rage in network and cable news, and it's expanding to other media. Increasingly, journalists and talk-show hosts want to "own" a niche issue or problem, find ways to solve it and be associated with making this world a better place, as Winfrey has done with obesity, literacy and, most recently, education by founding a girls school in South Africa.

But is this a good trend? I am on the fence about it. On one hand, this is not Paris Hilton hawking Heiress Rights. The causes in question are legitimate. In today's media-mad world, this might be one of the few ways for important issues to reach the spotlight; I.e. fight for your airtime amid the scandals and the trash by becoming your own celebrity angle of your own story-or at least be part of it. Ann Curry, Bob Woodruff, Katie Couric, Tim Russert, Brian Williams, Anderson Cooper...they are all doing it. On the other hand, who will remain the objective voice amid the spin, hype, and advocacy?

What do you think?

Friday, March 23, 2007

March 23, 2007: Now THIS Is a Celebri-spiral! Check Out Lily Tomlin's Meltdown

Go, Ernestine, go!

Celebrities are not like you and me. This meltdown between Lily and creepy, self-indulgent director David O. Russell-captured on film, God bless YouTube- is yet another example of how the Gods bestowed on celebrities the gift of special rules for behavior.

If I were a celebrity, I'd call all my actors the C-word, hurl papers, and just yell fuck-fuck-fuck throughout my day like a parrot with Tourrette's. What would you do?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

March 22, 2007: Today's Celebri-spiral Conspiracy Theory-The Case of Angie and People

What I am about to tell you is so scandalous, media-mad, conniving, and seemingly impossible for the competent-not- groundbreaking editors of People magazine to pull off that I want you to drive to the secret parking garage where Bob Woodward met Deep Throat. Yes, that parking garage, the Watergate one. It's in Arlington, about two minutes across from Key Bridge. It costs $6 an hour to sit there and listen but...what am I doing arguing with you about this? JUST GO.

Tick tock tick tock.

OK, are you there? Good, 'cause here's the skinny.

Angelina Jolie and People magazine actually plotted her ascension to sainthood in the last several years, eclipsing Mother Teresa and Mia Farrow at the same time, in exchange for exclusive access. People was conniving enough to woo Angelina's doctors/noted friends and write puff pieces about them so that Angie would give the weekly publication first dibs on exclusives per adoption, as well as updates on her and Brad.

Gawker broke this extremely important news with all the gusto of the vast liberal conspiracy's pursuit of evil Karl Rove and that Supreme Court nominee Harriet Myers, who looks like aging-actress-and-bi-polar-
Patty Duke.
Did you think your Brangelina family celebri-spiral was some random media accident that just happened to the universe, like a comet traversing the sky and landing on the Time Warner building? When it comes to People, think again, people. They are one step ahead. Feel manipulated much?

Are you all John Mellencamped out 'cause it hurts so good?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

March 21, 2007: Springtime for Celebri-spiralers. Check out Roseanne's Blog

I have developed this begrudging respect for Roseanne Barr, the comic formerly known as Roseanne.

In this celebri-spiraling world of crazed, allegedly-rehabbed, me-me-me 22-year-olds, it's refreshing to hear a middle-aged woman who's been there, done that when it comes to drugs, split personalities, and ugly celebrity behavior, but now seems to be on the other side.

Check out Roseanne's blog, which hosts her rants on funny aspects of everyday life, as well as sharp criticisms of the Bush administration, organized religion, and Americans who don't pay enough attention to what's important.

There's very little on typical career hype and self-aggrandizing, also rare from a celebrity today.

What other celebrities actually contribute something to the national conversation about real issues that matter? Who's your favorite, and why?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

March 20, 2007: Just When I Thought It Was Safe to Open My Email...

This morning, I yawned, stretched and tried to come alive, as Dolly Parton implores in my career anthem Nine to Five.

I was minding my own business. I hadn't thought of "her" in a week. My Anna celebri-spiral was not over but definitely more manageable, sort of like Lindsay's rehab. I went to my email. A note from Amazon.com was waiting for me:

Dear Amazon.com Customer,

We've noticed that customers who have expressed interest in Fat Actress - The Complete First Season have also ordered Season 1-Anna Micole Smith Show on DVD. For this reason, you might like to know that Season 1-Anna Micole Smith Show is now available on DVD. You can order your copy by following the link below.

Season 1-Anna Micole Smith Show
Season 1-Anna Micole Smith Show
Anna Nicole Smith Show

I can't escape her. Even in my personal email, she's haunting me from her Caribbean grave.

And yes, you read right. Micole. With an "M." Are you kidding me with this? Should I be pleased with a typo for the most written about name of the last year? Does this mean Amazon was paying attention to worthier, less celebri-spiralish product, like that new book The Secret? Or was the copy editor too busy watching Anna coverage on ET and Access Hollywood to pay attention to his job?

And no image was available? When there are only 5 million images of her and her TV show everywhere?

Note to Amazon: so much for Carpe Opportunity!

Monday, March 19, 2007

March 19, 2007: "I Hope I Don't Lose My Leg" on Dancing with the Stars

The TV commercial running for tonight's premiere of Dancing with the Stars has caused my latest celebri-spiral.

You know the show: 3rd tier celebrities twist and twirl their way back up the showbiz ladder on this bona-fide hit. The celebri-spiral commercial goes like this: magical stars in a woosh, the DWTS logo, and then a booming announcer's voice: On Monday March 19th, TV's sexiest show returns when Heather Mills will face the ultimate dancing test!

Cut to a close up of the one-legged former porn star skank now known as Dark Lady Mills, who looks at the camera and states in trashy faux-cockney: "Mah main concurrrrn ees keeping mah leg ohn."

Mills, who lost her leg below the knee in a 1993 motorcycle accident, is the first contestant with an artificial limb to compete on the dance show. She's grabbing for the Heather, Patron-Saint-of-Limb-Loss brass ring by telling interviewers that she's doing DWTS to get the word out: the limb-challenged can do anything. But she might as well wear a sequined t-shirt that reads, "We can shake our well-documented asses and even rip off ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, too!"

Mills and ABC are totally exploiting the shock value potential, which is why newbies like me, who missed previous seasons, will now watch. An online site is even taking bets (current odds are "no leg off"). The prepared-for-anything dark lady told Access Hollywood, "I've got a secondary spare leg just in case I overdo it on the foot and it breaks or something."

Good Plan B. But for those glorious 45 seconds when her fake leg shoots over Joey Fatone's head, past Ian Ziering's jazz hands, and knocks Leeza Gibbons wig off, I will be in bliss.

Yes, it's true I am biased. I've been in a celebri-spiral for poor beloved Sir Paul, apparently too polite to ask for a pre-nup from the skank, who's now taking him to the cleaners, airing his probably-fabricated dirty laundry along the way.

Tonight on ABC! An evil, accidental celebrity will be punished. Leg will fly! Wait for it!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

March 18, 2007: The New Yorker Gives Thumbs Up to Anna Nicole. World Loses Mind! Film at 11

This is terrifying. According to Liz Smith, serious publications proudly boast that they followed the endless Anna Nicole coverage:

'We admit it. We followed the coverage of Anna Nicole Smith's death. And we don't apologize," says the American Conservative magazine.

Is this, in fact, "fabulous" as Liz describes it, that at least three distinguished think tank-type publications explained (rationalized?) their interest in this tsunami of tabloid frenzy?

The New Yorker opined that death is so important that "we die forever," quoting Sophocles. And they harked back to Homer's "Odyssey" about bodies being buried as having an ancient historic imperative.

The New Republic said people with "good taste" were "lying hypocrites . . . Are we interested in a case involving a zaftig, dead fashion model, millions of dollars, child custody, etc.? Of course we are and why shouldn't we be?"

The American Conservative made fun of "serious commentators" like the Washington Post's Philip Kennicott, who wrote, "She had gotten under our skin, and taken on a role we didn't quite realize was so big in the history of marriage, money and sex." The magazine said instead that "Anna Nicole provided a diversion . . . We didn't watch because it meant something. Just the opposite. Entertainment offers a refuge because it is so very trivial."

After weeks of baby-daddy-and-who-gets-the-body tabloid coverage, don't you feel excused and maybe even a little highbrow now? I know I do.

Maybe the nation's leading economists will issue a report in support, Johns Hopkins will name a wing after her, or Mark Steines will win the Pulitzer for his Entertainment Tonight coverage.

It's the tabloid story that keeps giving. Next stop this week: baby custody hearings!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

March17, 2007: Just What a Celebri-spiraler Needs! TMZ in DC

No more just hearing about Patrick Kennedy-ish drunken crashes into the Capitol, the rare but exciting outing of glamor-spies like Valerie Plame (sigh, I wish), or lascivious interns wending their way Cruel Intentions-style through the corridors of power. Simple snapshots? How 90's!

Now TMZ is coming to DC and that means video!

Kitty Kelley, drop your poison pen and get a camcorder. You are going to need it to compete in today's celebri-spiraling world, now caught on film, playing at a selected website near you.

Kitty, you better hurry the hell up, too. Because now, anyone can be a D.C. scandal journalist by sending hot tips to TMZ's DC hotline.

I've already commented on the approximately eight new gossip rags, columns, and glossies in Washington. The coverage cannot be just Ambassador BlahBlahBlah's wife wearing a knockoff Valentino at a party celebrating Swiss Alps Day. Nor does the average American want to see Karl Rove "Lohan'ing it" in his halter top and daisy dukes getting a Frappaccino at the Palisades Starbucks.

Does Washington have enough true glamor cache to warrant outside-the-beltway interest? What do you think we can expect from this newfound focus on DC celebrity gossip?

Personally, I am counting on the Embassy staffers to up the crazed party ante. I want to see some skinny dipping at the Bolivian residence. Ahora! Ahora!

TMZ DC. Good for celebri-spiralers. Bad for Kitty Kelley.

Friday, March 16, 2007

March 16, 2007: Dame Elizabeth Does Not Celebri-spiral. Word Up, Celebutards!

Listen up, celebutards!

Quit your whining about unfair press. Ignore today's CNN Headline News poll that says 52% of the U.S. Population feels sorry for your charmed, lucky asses, just because a paparazzo jumped out of a bush and said "boo" as the shutter snapped.

Dame Elizabeth Taylor has your number. The link between willful, crazy celebrity behavior and paparazzi chases/relentless coverage isn't accidental.

In her Entertainment Tonight interview today, Dame Elizabeth wants you to know that you seek what you find. Take it from the scandal queen, kids. She rocked the 50's, got condemned by the Pope (the Pope! Top that, Paris!) in the 60's, and never turned down a Jack & Coke with Percoset chaser in the 70's.

"Fame costs you privacy, you lose it," Dame Elizabeth told Mary Hart:

"You have no right to a private life." After being in the business for more than 50 years, the silver screen star has a few words of wisdom for today's youthful A-listers.

"If you want to be private, don't go out seeking it," she says of the paparazzi's attention. "Home is a very nice place -- you can make it a nice place."

But the icon says that it takes two to tango. "Some of those young kids go out courting the press," she says. "If that's what you want, that's what you're going to get. There are a million ways to avoid it."

Learning from experience, the Oscar winner recommends bringing the party to you. "You can have your own circle of friends and be with them," she says. "You don't have to go out partying every night where the photographers are."

Her desire for privacy increased once she had kids. "As a mother, that was my main ambition -- to give my kids their privacy and a right to their life," she says.

Taylor says she has always resented fame but feels grateful that she's found a way to use it for good. "I can use my fame to make people understand and listen," she says of her part in fighting the AIDS and HIV crisis. "People are interested in what movie stars, famous people, do, say, whatever. So instead of just chit-chatting about what to wear or what jewelry to wear, I thought, 'I am going to attack this devil and I'm going to take it on equal terms, and I'm going to fight it with my life.'"

She's done about the best thing with superstardom that one can do. Who's done more for HIV/AIDS research, awareness, and advocacy?

Wear the baubles until your fingers are too weak to hold 'em, Dame E. Hope the celebutards look at you as their shining beacon of aspiration.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

March 15, 2007: Brad, Angelina and the World Celebri-family

Is there anyone who doesn't know that Angelina Jolie is in Vietnam right now, adopting her fourth child? Probably very few. She's an A-list celebrity in every way, from box office draw to celebrity tabloid coverage.

But I haven't written about Brangelina much, despite the fact that they are weekly tabloid covers, along with Paris, Britney and Anna. A friend of mine asked me why I've stayed away from such an obvious choice for a blog called Celebri-spiral. Certainly, the Brangelina relationship has caused many a celebri-spiral, not just for Jennifer Aniston. I think there are three main reasons:

Reason #1: I am conflicted.
Angelina Jolie is doing good in the world. She's bringing attention to areas that need it. She is a calm, composed presence on the world stage. Regardless of what motives or media manipulation lie beneath the surface, and I am not denying there's lots I'm unaware of, the end result seems very positive. So is this an example of the highest form of celebrity good? I don't know, honestly.

Reason #2: She's not talking much about her personal life. She's mentioning babies, Brad and world crises all in the same breath, and more on the latter, frankly. Another type of media hound would have engendered world sympathy by making damn sure we all knew her mother was dying before she walked the Golden Globes red carpet last January. Yes, Angelina looked dour and humorless. She took the heat for it and never responded. Two weeks later, we found out why. But the less she leverages the celebrity currency of her personal life, the less compelled I am to comment on any aspect of her.

Reason #3: The repetition factor. We're used to her now. She's usually seen in comfortable slacks, a black or white loose top, hair lightly pulled away from her face. Or she's in a Jackie O black trench with oversize black sunglasses. She's either in A) Cambodia (or now Vietnam, same thing), B) Los Angeles, C) New Orleans, or D) deplaning a small jet. She smiles pleasantly, lightly, and rarely directly at camera. Like Madonna wearing an Adidas track suit for the 100th time, while exiting the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles, we've seen Angelina's standard image so often, we don't perk up in the same way as when we see something new.

Are Brangelina and brood stirring a celebri-spiral in you, or are you feeling chill about them, too?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

March 14, 2007: My Anti Celebri-spiral Night at the Josh Groban Concert

Josh Groban fell into my lap last night. No, he wasn't drunk. He was singing at DC's Verizon Center and tickets to his concert showed up as a surprise last minute gift from my close friend Mary Ann.

Here's what I knew about Josh Groban before his show. He has a "pop-era" voice and musical sound; big, booming, but contemporary. I love three songs of his: You Raise Me Up, You're Still You, and You Are Loved. He's got dark wavy/curly hair and seems tall and lanky. That's it.

Here's what I learned about him personally during his show: nada. And that's a good thing.

I loved his show. With his understated but charming, youthful personality, and lack of personal stage banter, he gave the audience a great gift, in addition to his soaring voice. He allowed us to experience art without the typical trappings. You know what I mean. I was able to experience the music and project my own feelings onto the experience without thinking about who he's dating, what scandal he just overcame, why some dumb soundbyte from Entertainment Tonight won't get out of my head, or how the tabloids dished his most recent social outing.

As I looked around at the packed stadium, I was not alone. The crowd may know a little more about him, but he's not Nick Lachey, Sting, Madonna, Robbie Williams, Mariah Carey, Barbra Streisand, Pavarotti, or even Michael Buble; other singers who are in the public celebrity zeitgeist. Still, he's selling out stadiums, eliciting adoration, and receiving platinum records without trading in the currency of his own celebrity.

I didn't learn about the concert by reading People magazine. A friend told me. I didn't discover the songs of his that I like by listening to a gossipy top 40 radio station or TV talk show. I tried his music on iTunes without knowing who he was. And now that I have seen him live, and like him more, I won't Google his personal life, or look for entertainment stories on him, even though my first inclination was to satisfy some prurient curiosity. I want to keep this experience just as it is.

On second thought, I did learn one factoid at the concert. The title of his new CD is Awake. Hmmm. I can relate to that.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

March 13, 2007: US Magazine's Editor on the Tabloidization of America

Janice speaks! According to Gawker, US editor Janice Min gave a little talk to Columbia Journalism students and friends recently about celebrity culture.

She seems to be on the defensive, certainly in no danger of a celebri-spiral. But God knows really what keeps her up at night, and if she ever second-guesses her coverage of celebrity.

What did we learn from her discourse?

1. Paris Hilton did not authorize the invasion to Iraq, so get off her ass.
2. US readers are upscale, hot women! (Excuse the hell out of the rest of us).
3. US is not the typical tabloid. Come on. By now, don't you know the difference between US, In Touch, People, Hello!, OK, and the rest?
4. Brittany Murphy should be Secretary of State, instead of this woman.

Read the highlights below, or get the full scoop:

"People talk about the tabloidization of society and what it means for the future of society, and people talk about celebrities and their role—but Paris Hilton didn't start any wars," Ms. Min reminded her young charges. "I have memories as a child of watching the Watergate hearings with my mother. And now we live in an era when CNN went for 90 minutes uninterrupted on Anna Nicole Smith's death!"

Then she gave a juicy blind item that had the students tittering, about a "young cultured diva" who was returning to London, whose husband was so drunk at their wedding that he openly flirted with his mistress... and which turned out to be about that naughty late-18th-century couple, King George IV and Caroline of Brunswick. Gossip was not invented by Bonnie Fuller, or even Walter Winchell, it turns out! (Janice, you scamp!)

"These days, it's all about celebrities behaving very badly in front of camera," Ms. Min said, not entirely approvingly or disapprovingly. "There's no limit to what certain celebrities will do, or what an audience will watch. It's like, you have to have an audience or you cease to exist. We've come a long way from Descartes!" Indeed, we have. But what of Ms. Min's own august publication? "US Weekly gives a more accessible portraits of celebrities," Ms. Min said. "'Just Like US' are the most popular pages in the magazine, and it's just celebrities doing boring stuff. We provide our readers with a glamorous version of their own lives—just with Brad Pitt!"

She would also like to make it clear that US is not just read by trailer trash! "Our average reader is a 30-year-old woman making $62,000 a year," she said. "That's a higher income than Vogue and Esquire! Our readers like the distraction that a human interest magazine provides. It's okay to avert our eyes to the disaster in Iraq and look at the disaster that is Britney Spears."

And did you know that Brittany Murphy once said, "If they want to find Osama Bin Laden, send an US Weekly reporter after him"?

Monday, March 12, 2007

March 12, 2007: Is Katie a Victim of Celebri-spiral Withdrawal?

Apparently, it's take-a-whack-at-Katie time. According to numerous columns like Media Mix, six months post her overly-hyped launch as CBS Nightly News anchor, Ms. Couric is 3rd in the ratings, behind Charlie Gibson on ABC and Brian Williams on NBC.

Maybe nightly news viewers really do take to a kindly, aged 60+ white man feeding them the nightly news. Maybe the nightly audience is much different than the morning one. Maybe there was too much hype and expectation on Katie. Maybe there is channel brand loyalty and the die-hards don't like switching. Maybe it's all about the affiliates and lead-ins and no anchor will be a game-changer.

But maybe, just maybe, viewers liked her Today Show personality, her camaraderie with co-anchors, and the subtle but persistent way her celebrity edged its way into our lives. We celebri-spiraled with Katie-over her tragedy, her causes, her friends, and...well, just her.

This is gone for now. Colorectal Katie, with the fabulous annual fundraisers and the funny repartee with other, less charismatic celebrities has been replaced by serious Katie, reporting on Iraq, Washington, and the world economy. She's a great reporter. That hasn't changed. But her celebrity status has. In six months, she's not been in the news or tabloids much. During her broadcast, no longer does she offer her fans the opportunity to celebri-spiral over her. Could that contribute to the ratings slump?

She has a new producer, veteran Rick Kaplan, now onboard to help boost the show. I hope it helps. I have to admit I am a fan who misses her in the morning and hasn't adjusted to her new role.

She hasn't made a misstep, or am I biased, based on the fact that I just like her? What other reasons could there be for her lack of ratings success? Or is too much being made of Katie's alleged failure to launch?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

March 11, 2007: Meet the Press, At Least a Few Who'll Keep You From Celebri-spiraling

I wrist-slapped the Sunday Morning Talk Shows in an earlier post (The Sunday Talk Shows-News or Spin Cycle Gossip?). I was critical of them since, on that day, they seemed harsh and didactic, with pompous, bombastic guests who spewed inner beltway gossip as if it's substantial.

But today was different. Tim Russert on Meet the Press hosted an awesome show that made me understand aspects about the Iraq war I didn't get before, by adding historical insights and thoughtful approaches I hadn't considered. I was as engrossed in this show as I usually am in celebrity culture. I didn't feel the usual repulsion when I see typical Iraq war headlines, which stay the same; only the numbers change (X soldiers killed today in roadside bombing outside Bagdhad).

Instead, I was drawn into the news by the steady-yet-firm Ted Koppel (and I am not speaking of his hair), who offered smart insights about the future of the Iraq war. He'll expand on them in tonight's documentary: "Our Children's Children's War."

Here's a sampling of his comments from Newsbusters:

"First, Koppel made it clear that America’s premature departure from Iraq would turn the entire Persian Gulf region into a battlefield between Sunnis and Shia, “something the United States cannot allow to happen.” Second, he said the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are part of the war on terror that “has been going on for the past 24 years” starting when “the precursors of Hezbollah blew up the U.S. marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon” in 1983. Finally, he stated that America’s departure from Iraq and Afghanistan, regardless of when it occurs, will not represent the end of this battle, but, instead, that it is just “going to be a different war.”

Yes, post Iraq-discussion, there was some gossipy roundtabling about D.C.'s celebri-candidates-Hillary, Barack, Rudy, and John-as well as idle speculation regarding Time magazine's dissection of Dick Cheney's hopefully powered-down Vice Presidency.

But today's show with Zalmay Khalilzad, Michael Beschloss, Michael Duffy, Ted Koppel and Dana Priest reminded me how valuable really good journalists are, when they dig deep and explain complicated situations in ways laymen can understand, making the story content as relevant as possible to the average viewer.

Clearly, many viewers want escape from bad news (It's Not "The News." It's "The Bad News"). Isn't that one reason why many of us celebri-spiral, eating up soap opera tabloid stories, which offer a respite from heartbreaking, repetitive headlines about wars we don't understand and horrific global situations that seem out of our reach in more ways than one?

Thankfully, there are many, many scribes attempting the good fight: trying to make the news relevant and palatable at the same time. This is no small feat. The more they can do this, perhaps the less the rest of us will celebri-spiral. Anderson Cooper comes to mind, though he's criticized for making himself part of his stories. Jim Lehrer always digs beneath the headline's surface to unearth the real issues. My friend Shane Harris at National Journal does this for national security. But too often these days, I see fast, harsh, repetitive scrawls or the blow-hard tirades of talking heads like Bill O'Reilly: two surefire ways to send people like me running to Gawker and US.

I know it's all very John Lennon and Imagine of me to dream of real news that doesn't trigger a need to celebri-spiral. As soon as my Meet The Press high ends, The McLaughlin Group starts, bringing me back to another, uglier reality. Loud, cackling, ego-driven sound-bytes did nothing but make me long for Entertainment Tonight.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

March 10, 2007: Scarlett Johansson on Celebrity Tabloid Culture

I've never read anything about Scarlett Johansson, so she's a rare celebrity clean slate for me. I loved her in Match Point and Lost in Translation. I know she's dated some hot leading men, like Patrick Wilson and Josh Hartnett. I get a hip, sultry, wise-beyond-her -years vibe. But other than those factoids, I had no personality snapshot of her until now.

She's the cover subject of Parade magazine this week. In the interview, she talks about avoiding paparazzi, her looks, and other self-absorbed topics that are de rigeur for a typical celebrity interview.

But when asked about her recent foray into the tabloids, as the other woman in the Cameron Diaz/Justin Timberlake breakup, she made a comment that I thought was rather celebri-spiralish of her:

"I think people today are very cynical. They need to bring other people down. Reality television and tabloid magazines-never before did we need to see movie stars taking out their garbage. But all of a sudden, it's front page news-trying to figure out who's dating whom, all that stuff. There are so many other things, shocking news stories that we should be paying attention to. But that's kind of how it goes. It feeds itself."

I don't know. Does it feed itself? Or does the media feed it, and people just gorge on readily available junk food, like they're at a Las Vegas all-you-can-eat-buffet?

Friday, March 9, 2007

March 9, 2007: Does the Media Set a Bad Example? Duh

According to a new study from the Culture and Media Institute, a majority of Americans across the board (74 %) believe that America has suffered a moral decline in the past 20 years and a majority (64 %) believes that the news and entertainment media are a major influence in that decline.

Um, this is not exactly surprising coming from a religious-based advocacy group. Here's their mission:

To preserve and help restore America’s culture, character, traditional values, and morals against the assault of the liberal media elite, and to promote fair portrayal of social conservatives and religious believers in the media.

Well kids, the liberal media elite is promoting your study, because I've seen it in all the commie pinko rags I read. So you can stifle the whining about lack of coverage. The study is getting a fair amount of press because of one little fact: it purports to break down findings by three groups based on their views on religion in everyday life: the Orthodox (religious), the Progressives (not religious) and the Independents (not sure). Across all three groups, there was damning agreement about impact of the media.

While there may be disagreement over the religious aspects, implications, and biases your organization brings to the table, your topic du jour is an interesting conversation that makes me ask some of the same questions you do, and even a few that you don't:

  • Does the media set a bad example?
  • Where does the culpability lie in a society that treats supply and demand as the chicken and the egg?
  • What are the rules for coverage? Are they fair, reasonable, and objective?
  • Does the press have a role in making accidental heroes out of non-deserving celebrities?
  • In this world of 24/7 coverage, how much coverage is too much?

Thursday, March 8, 2007

March 8, 2007: She's Baaaaaaaackkkk....Star and Court TV Celebri-spirals

As if Nancy Grace, Larry King, and 80% of Court TV coverage doesn't already cover every celebrity legal spiral, now we have Star Jones in a new TV show, back to make sure we don't miss Paris Hilton in traffic court.

Yes, it's true. According to USA Today,
Court TV announced it hired Star to run a show about "criminal justice issues that intersect with the pop culture world. The show, which has no title yet, will likely start this summer or in the fall."

"The public is fascinated by the intersection of the legal world and the pop-culture world, and we hope to tap into that fascination as part of our overall strategy to broaden the appeal of the network's daytime lineup," said Steve Koonin, Turner Entertainment Networks president, in a statement.

Jesus, can you just see the lineup? Will Star roll out a red carpet in front of the courtroom? Will she borrow some Harry Winston bling for Lady Justice to dazzle? Will there be gift bags after every verdict?

This new Star vehicle makes me think of all the future celebri-spiral dramas acted out in courtrooms headed by cheesy second banana judges. Which celebrities do you think we can count on to "fascinate" us in what are sure to include these courtroom staples?

  • Paternity suit
  • DUI
  • Neighbor brawl
  • Traffic court
  • Aggravated assault
  • Suit against the National Enquirer
  • Club fight with Shannon Doherty and Lindsay Lohan
  • Strange death at the hands of washed up 60's or 70's star
  • Bitter divorce against cheating, no good celebri-spouse
  • Bitter divorce against gay husband
  • Custody battle
  • Stealing SWAG from a Golden Globes suite
  • Getting hit by a phone thrown by Russell Crowe
  • Getting slapped by Naomi Campbell
  • Beating the shit out of Virgie Arthur
  • Public lewdness that doesn't involve George Michael
  • Drunk and disorderly conduct
And will Star be the star of one her own shows?

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

March 7, 2007: Destroy Pop Culture

Borrowing from Donnie and Marie, are you feeling a little bit celebri-spiralish, yet a little bit rock n' roll?

Then watch this funny parody of Mylo's "Destroy Rock and Roll", by The Young Punx, in which they replace the names of 80s pop stars with a list of annoying celebrities who clutter up the UK press.

While there are definitely UK-only named celebutards, you'll see plenty of the usual suspects. Forget global warming! Bring on the global celebri-spiral.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

March 6, 2007: Do You Have PASD? Take This Quick Test and Find Out!

PASD is the clinical acronym for Post Awards Show Depression. Most celebri-spiralers are afflicted with this syndrome in early March, once the Golden Globes, Grammy, Screen Actors Guild, People's Choice, Nickelodeon, Independent Spirit, NAACP Image, and Academy Awards have dressed you up as the vicarious star that you are, escorted you down your emotional rep carpet, and then dumped you in the street.

So long, red carpet. Hasta la vista, baby.

I admit it. I have "Awards Show" on my TIVO wish list. I've been clicking it every week since last November, usually unearthing at least one ceremony per week. But once the end of February rolled around, I found nothing but sports shows. Did you know that there are approximately 45,000 soccer awards programs throughout the world? F***ing Direct TV covers them all. But this does me no good.

Maybe you are experiencing symptoms of PASD, too? Take this simple True or False test and find out:

1. Do you wake up in a cold sweat thinking that Helen Mirren didn't win something? Are you haunted by nightmare images of Penelope Cruz strutting to a podium, arms outstretched for her prize, as Salma Hayek, in the bleacher seats, jumps up and down screaming like that hysterical lady in Babel?

2. Do you wander Fred Segal for hours, buying Nicole Richie hand-me-downs, chatting with Winona Ryder about nothing, then skulking off to eat the fat-free banana cake at Urth Caffe on Melrose Avenue, in between trips to your dermatologist and stylist, who will no longer see you? Do people look at you strangely as you wonder aloud, "What day is it? How long ago did Borat give that funny Golden Globes speech? Is Eddie Murphy still upset? What is Joan Rivers getting lifted or tucked now, and when can I see?"

3. In the middle of the night, do you randomly call the Milan office of Lagerfeld, yelling into the answering machine, "Karl said I could keep it! It was a gift! You are not getting it back."

4. When buying coffee at Starbucks, or purchasing bottled water at Rite Aid, do you clutch your drink at chest height, look the clerk in the eye, and over-enunciate the words, "Thank you. I really didn't think I was going to win."

5. Are you listless, tired, restless, and out of sorts? And not just because rehab lock downs and jail threats have spared us from Britney, Lindsay and Paris wreaking more havoc?

If you answered yes to 3 or more out of the 5, chances are you are experiencing PASD. So do what I do.

Get out your yoga mat, assume the down dog position, and breathe in your biggest Kundalini Breath of Fire as you repeat the mantra "Em-my, Em-my, Em-my." It's all about the Emmy's now. Don't give up hope. They're scheduled for Sunday September 16, 2007.

In the meantime, if you can't wait that long, check out The Stupidity Awards. That should tide you over for now. One day at a time.

Monday, March 5, 2007

March 5, 2007: Barbara Walters, Larry King, and the Big Q of Celebrity Media Coverage

The big question of celebrity media coverage is "why do those in charge choose to focus the spotlight on certain topics and not others?"

I asked myself this question while I watched Larry King interview Barbara Walters
, appearing to plug The View and her TV specials. Now, it's no secret that I love Larry King. To paraphrase Jerry Maguire, he had me at little old man. I know he asks banal questions. He reads questions off of cue cards, often without feigning interest in the responses. The hunched shoulders, suspenders, and Broadway!!!! lights behind him are too much. But his show keeps a laser-like focus on celebrities who peak our curiosity, often fanning the flames until there's a brush fire of coverage. Laci Peterson might be exhibit A. Anna-Nicole-a-thon is certainly the most recent example.

Larry gets roughly 1 million viewers, which is peanuts next to Entertainment Tonight's nightly audience of approximately 9 million, but huge for a cable talk show. In the last three weeks, 90% of his shows have been devoted to Anna Nicole.

I still can't get over the joint appearance of these two media titans who, between them, have about 100 years of television experience. They are groundbreaking legends. Their focus last week?

A debate about Anna Nicole vs. Britney coverage, with a dash of Donald Trump.

Larry asked Babs about the Rosie vs. Donald feud, and she was evasive, choosing to avoid the topic. Score one for Barbara, I thought. She started it and now she's ending it.

Then Larry asked her what she thought about Anna Nicole's death and the ensuing hysteria. Barbara stiffened and said that they really don't talk about it on The View, as if they chose instead to limit conversation to viral cancer cures, reasons for national educational standards, and sound options for the US withdrawal from Iraq.

Barbara offered reasons why Britney's coverage is different than Anna Nicole's. While acknowledging that Anna Nicole's death has all the elements of soap opera- including a baby in flux with the real daddy a question mark, two untimely deaths at young ages, and tons of money at stake-she said that Anna had accomplished little for her fame and was over (I.e. dead), while Britney can reinvent, contribute to culture, and symbolize hope for young girls who, presumably, are at risk of head shave and meltdown.

Her tone indicated that Anna Nicole is a subject beneath her, while other celebrity tabloid tales have social merit. Um, sounds like a stretch to me.

The most fascinating exchange was this:

KING: Why do you think so many people are following (Anna Nicole)? Why do you think there is such a fascination with it?
WALTERS: I don't know. Why do you? You do it every night. (zing!)
KING: We do it, but I can't figure it out. I know I do it, the producers book it, I do it, we talk about it. But what is the fascination of it? (I have no idea, I just do what they tell me.)
WALTERS: I don't know, either.

My first reaction was "Not know?!? How could they not even have a theory?" Then it dawned on me that maybe they know, or have theories, and just don't want to admit the reasons. Their livelihood is at stake.

Do I really expect that these two will agree on air that the majority of viewers want mindless, cheap entertainment...and they're happy to provide it to them as long as the ratings are good?

That's like expecting McDonalds to admit-on its own with no prompting from Morgan Spurlock-that french fries are bad for you and those who buy them are idiots.

I guess the answer to the big Q of celebrity media coverage is obvious. It has nothing to do with mutable standards of "news fit to print," or air. It's ratings, pure and simple. They have a vested interest in not exploring the psychology of viewers.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

March 4, 2007: Celebri-spiraling Ann Coulter Needs Your Attention Desperately

Do you want to give it to her?

Ann is having a celebri-spiral, caused by her deep-seated need to stay in the headlines, at any cost.

I realize that my noting her most recent cry for help - calling John Edwards a faggot at a political pundit rally - gives her more of the publicity she craves like crack.

But I am curious, compelled to explore celebri-spirals of all colors, including dark ones like this. What's the best way to react when faced with another Coulter outburst? Her deeply juvenile denigration of schools, 9-11 widows, and now political leaders is hardly intellectual. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Name calling! What a mind-giant she is to come up with such a clever conceit.

Do intelligent people warble a responsive chorus of I'm rubber and you're glue, nanny nanny boo boo?

Do we laugh and assume she is a grand satirist, right up there with character-inventing comics like Ruth Draper and Lily Tomlin?
Oh Ann, the details you bring to the part of blond idiot springboard this character to life! Not so fast. It's easy to knock everyone and claim to be a satirist, but isn't the other part of the job to help society see itself more clearly? She misses on the latter.

Do we give her the attention she craves by spending precious time condemning her? Her latest oafish statement was shot down by everyone from John McCain to Ted Kennedy. But at this point, why bother? She's not taken seriously by anyone of note. As Anna Nicole coverage indicates, America loves over-the-top distraction.

Do we ignore her?

Do we crash a conservative rally, make our way through crazies, fast talking narcissists, self-absorbed tools, clueless bigots, closet cases, ex-gays, and war-loving patricians, and call Ann a hilarious comedienne, or, worse, peace-mongerer?

I say encourage those who support her to stop buying her books or rewarding her bad behavior. But other than that, don 't react, at least not much. Giving bad celebrities what they want is the worst form of Pavlovian conditioning.

What do you think? As you consider, enjoy Henry Rollins sentient video letter to Ann. While I share his sentiment, I appreciate his talented use of words and feisty energy more. They're a satisfying antidote to the celebri-spiraling Ms. C.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

March 3, 2007: The Queen of Tabloids Leaving?

Bonnie Fuller is leaving American Media!! Save your piles of worn National Star Magazines to sell on EBAY as collector's items.

OK, back down. It's just a rumor that's apparently pissing her off, based on the tone of her denial to the New York Post Media Ink column. But does she get the irony? Though she'd cut me for saying this - since she thinks of herself as objective, fair celebri-journalist - her business is rumor.

For any newbies out there, Ms. Fuller oversees the daily operations of The Enquirer, National Star, and a few other tabloids. I think it's fair to call her The Tabloid Queen. Certainly, Courtney Cox based part of her Dirt character on Bonnie.

"Rumblings inside American Media now say that Editorial Director Bonnie Fuller is reaching out to Hachette Filipacchi and to TMZ.com, the celebrity dirt-digging Web site, as she scrambles for an exit strategy."

TMZ strikes me as an odd fit since Bonnie is computer-illiterate, according to some reports. But TMZ is also where it's happening in celebrity-land right now. Of course, she probably wants TMZ, or something similar; in the world of celebrity coverage, who wouldn't want to be the golden child? Celebrity video is really where it's at.

TMZ consistently lands the best videos and breaking news about completely meaningless celebrity...
what's the word I want here? Crap? Events? Lowbrow, narcissistic grabs for attention that, when we watch them, put us all on the mentally challenged shortbus?

Meanwhile, if you love mean boss tales coupled with celebrity, join the I Survived Bonnie Yahoo Group, now 477 members strong. This group is for former and current employees of Editrix Bonnie Fuller to discuss how they survived her reign of tyranny and, for some, how the workplace bitchslaps to their masochistic psyches hurt so good.

Friday, March 2, 2007

March 2, 2007: Associated Press Celebri-Spirals! But Just For One Week. Now What?

Did you catch that the Associated Press banned coverage of Paris Hilton for an entire week? Yes, a newswire had its first official celebri-spiral. Uncork the champagne!

It was an experimental blackout that ended when le auto de Paris got ticketed and towed, and she received a pretty pink, girlish summons for violating her DUI conditions that could land her in jail. Now I want to see that porno video. Bring it!

Note to AP: well, if you must come back with coverage....jail time potential is better than the folly we missed during blackout week, including her "sing-stripping" on a bar in Vegas for her 26th birthday.

According to the AP, "It was only meant to be a weeklong ban-not the boldest of journalistic initiatives, and one, we realized, that might seem hypocritical once it ended. And it wasn't based on a view of what the public should be focusing on -- the war in Iraq, for example, or the upcoming election of the next leader of the free world, as opposed to the doings of a partygoing celebrity heiress/reality TV star most famous for a grainy sex video.

No, editors just wanted to see what would happen if we didn't cover this media phenomenon, this creature of the Internet gossip age, for a full week. After that, we'd take it day by day. Would anyone care? Would anyone notice? And would that tell us something interesting?"

In the end, the ban was picked up worldwide by news and media outlets from gawker.com to Howard Stern's radio show. Did it work? Not at all. Her name was mentioned probably more times than it usually would be in a one-week timespan.

Jeff Jarvis, who teaches journalism at the City University of New York, decries the "one-size-fits-all disease" afflicting media outlets, who feel that "everybody's covering it, so we must, too." Even The New York Times, he noted, had substantial coverage of a hearing concerning where Anna Nicole Smith -- perhaps the one person who rivaled Hilton in terms of fame for fame's sake -- would be buried.

"That disease leads to the Paris Hilton virus spreading through the news industry," says Jarvis, who puts out BuzzMachine.

So did anyone really learn anything from the ban?

"It's hard to tell what this really changes, since we didn't have to make any hard decisions," says Jesse Washington, AP's entertainment editor. "So we'll continue to use our news judgment on each item, individually."

Too bad for us. The Associated Press celebri-spiral backfired since we still have Paris. Although their execution was lame (I.e. banned for a week? What's that about? Make a decision and stick to it), I don't think the concept behind this ban is over yet. Do you?

Thursday, March 1, 2007

March 1, 2007: Posh Spice's Celebri-spiral

Surely you don't think Posh alone causes a celebri-spiral, do you? Now with the soccer-playing hubby, maybe. But on her own, what exactly does this woman do to garner acclaim, or even attention?

Posh Spice is in the news today because she's

1) Still skinny, scary, and fake-tanned, but now newly blond;

2) Househunting, with her move to Los Angeles fodder for a new reality TV show;

3) Having a celebri-spiral of her very own, according to her first LA interview in UK's The Mirror.

Not known for my Spice Support, or unquestioning love of celebrities who are famous just for being famous, I am tossing a lifeline to Posh-ter on this one. I don't blame her. Here's the scoop:

Posh, 32, who has a £7.5million deal to design her own collection of shoes and handbags, also reveals she has to work hard to stay a fashion icon.

Victoria reveals: "When I get on a plane the first thing I do is put on old pajamas."But the other day I was on a flight sitting next to Tom Ford."

I told him that I was going to take all my glam gear off and he said, 'You shouldn't'.

I thought he was joking and was getting ready to change when he said, 'No, you really shouldn't'.

"I was so intimidated I had to sit on this 11-hour flight in tight, uncomfortable clothes."

Finally, she's shown some sense. If Tom Ford told me to sit down, sit still in my tight clothes, and Shut the F*** Up for a flight, I'd probably do it, too. He's definitely celebri-spiral worthy.