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.

Monday, April 30, 2007

April 30, 2007: Happy Celebri-versary Larry King

I love Larry King and his show. It's no secret. To borrow from Jerry Maguire, he had me at little old man.

No one makes me celebri-spiral like Larry. On any given night, you have Bil Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Barbra Eden, and Kathy Griffin-together!-discussing world events.

Who else can listen to Liza Minnelli wax on about the fact that alcoholism is a disease and interrupt her with a sentimental, "Ya miss your mother? You ever watch that movie she was in? The OZ show? Love that. It's on TNT all the time."

His 50th anniversary week starts now, delayed after the Virginia Tech shootings, which Larry devoted a full week to, knocking on the dais Oprah, Katie Couric, and a host of others scheduled to now appear this week to celebrate him and turn the tables: interviewer gets interviewed.

So with all the grandeur and the tributes from Presidents, Kings, Queens, Stars, and-let's face it-a host of B-list who'll be trotted out from the land of the forgotten headline, I saw this little saucy nugget from The New York Post:

CNN Suspends Good Taste

"There are going to be a lot of suspenders hanging around Columbus Circle tomorrow. On Friday, CNN worldwide president Jim Walton sent out a memo to the entire cable news network's staff asking them to all wear suspenders to the studio in honor of Larry King's 50th year in broadcasting. "We are privileged to have Larry, a wonderful colleague and true industry giant, as a cornerstone of CNN's success," Walton wrote. "I couldn't be prouder to work alongside Larry and have the opportunity to congratulate him on this extraordinary professional milestone. I know you share this sentiment. As a small token of our respect, appreciation and friendship, I am encouraging everyone to wear suspenders to work on Monday." But not all staffers share Walton's affection. One CNN'er told us, "I'm going to suck up to stars I thought were dead?" Another e-mailed, "He told us to wear suspenders, nothing about a shirt. Larry would love to see that, I'm sure." And another employee cackled, "I'm gonna wear suspenders. I'm also going to eat blueberries and fart in public all day."

Well, there are those rumors about the show, too. I have heard a thing or two about a fan under the desk that points away from the guests.

What interviewers make you celebri-spiral? Barbara, Diane, Katie?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

April 29, 2007: Random Celebri-thoughts

I didn't read magazines or watch much TV this weekend, but just from the little I did, I learned way too much about people I don't need to allow into my mind. Call it celebri-spiraling by CNN crawl.

But too late to put these nuggets back into the box. Media sound bytes let the horses out of the gate. As I write this, here are the questions going through my mind:

  • Will my friend Brooks really need to have such drastic surgery?
  • Are Alec Baldwin and Rosie O'Donnell friends or what? "The View" appearance was so oddly orchestrated.
  • Does Bush really plan to work with Dems on the Iraq funding and, if so, why is he still grandstanding?
  • When will the "Katie Trapped by Scientologists" headlines ever end?
  • What should I get my mom for Mother's Day?
  • Why does Jane Fonda seem so pissed off in interviews?
  • Will "The Bachelor" one day regret making out with ten women on his show, captured on tape for all time?
  • Are Hillary and Barack frenemies?
  • Why hasn't Larry B. called me back? I know there's the "having a kid" issue, but still...
  • What do I need to do to get my next writing deadlines in order?
  • What's the real story behind the cozy Bruce Willis, Ashton Kutcher, and Demi Moore shared vacations?
  • Will life be found on this newly discovered planet that supposedly resembles earth in some ways?
  • What are the answers to these little mysteries?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

April 28, 2007: Well, Butter My Ass and Call Me a Biscuit. Look Who's on Celebrity Fit Club!

This season's cast includes Maureen McCormick (The Brady Bunch), Dustin "Screech" Diamond (Saved By The Bell), Tiffany (pop star), Cledus T. Judd (country music artist), Da Brat (Hip Hop Artist), Ross "The Intern" Mathews (The Tonight Show), Kimberley Locke (American Idol) and Warren G (rapper).

So much 2nd tier celebrity TMI that I did not need to know, where to begin???

  • The world of teen star Tiffany was not roses, people. Shopping mall appearances mean fast food lurks everywhere. Pressure, pressure, pressure.
  • Why are you so angry, Screech? Already, the amateur porn producer is not winning friends, but in this celebri-world we live in, the badder he acts, the more popular he might become.
  • Marcia, Marcia, Marcia: fat, fat, fat, but she is going to win this thing. I can tell. The TV Land awards put the fear of God in her, and she wants a career back.
  • Kimberly Locke is addicted to pizza. Well, butter me a biscuit and call Columbo. The mystery is solved.
  • Da Brat is now close to appearing on more reality shows than anyone else.
Still, I wish someone would pay me to go to a Spa, even with these people. When you are envying anything about Screech, something is wrong.

Friday, April 27, 2007

April 27, 2007: Celebri-spiral Role Model of the Week-Julia Roberts

From Pretty Woman to pretty quiet woman, Julia Roberts is still a major box office star and every bit as sought after as younger, more attention-needy-and-in-your-face actresses. Here's a recent shot of her, pregnant with her third child. But do you know anything about her really?

She holds our interest without being an idiot, and she's the queen of the entertaining but unrevealing interview. That's why she's our Celebri-spiral Role Model of the Week.

I love Julia, and have seen her up close and personal as she strictly deals with rabid fans. I was impressed. Yes, she's been there/done that, and we've celebri-spiraled with her over her romances and dramatic, broken engagement to Kiefer Sutherland.

But now she manages to stay in the limelight, appear witty and cheerful, and never reveal a damn thing about herself. I don't know of any celebrity who deflects invasive, personal questions with as much wit and style as she does, often at the expense of some hapless interviewer, who is no match for her quick, condescending wit. She is not one to suffer fools, encourage invasion of her privacy, or complain about the media.

Every week I'll choose one celebrity who exemplifies anti celebri-spiral qualities such as:

  • Productive, with the attention focused on the work.
  • Entertaining, without leveraging personal life.
  • Smart, but not sanctimonious or snotty.
  • Clearly human, highly likable and relatable , without overstepping TMI boundaries.
  • Celebrated, but without taint or scandal looming like a black cloud.
Read about the most recent celebri-spiral role model Matt Lauer.

Who would you nominate for future Celebri-spiral Role Models?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

April 26, 2007: Drinking the Kool Aid

This is really scary, but I am starting to think there's some higher purpose, some divine intervention, calling forth these celebrity hurricanes so we can heal our wounds as a nation.

Should I immediately cancel my subscriptions to all media? Direct TV, OK!, US...all of it? Do I need a parental blocker for the Internet, too? Just like they have adult diapers modeled after the traditional ones for babies, maybe there should be adult Web blockers that keep you from wasting time on ridiculous celebri-spiraling.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

April 25, 2007: Lessons Celebrities Teach Us Part 1: "Kitty, I Forgive You"

Celebrities teach us things; sometimes by setting an example, sometimes by showing us what not to do. For every Britney and Lindsay showing their private parts as they exit clubs, limos, and back entrances to clubs, there's a famous person who throws out a provocative sound byte that makes you think.

I know I have learned a lot from celebrities, probably things I could have just learned from myself, or from friends, but somehow, hearing it from a celebrity made it seem true. The fact that we pay attention to what celebrities have to say makes little sense sometimes. But then, there's the occasional gem.

Thus begins a new celebri-spiral feature: Things Celebrities Teach Us.

Lots of big, outspoken celebs have died recently; David Halberstam, Boris Yeltsin, Art Buchwald, and Anne Richards, to name a few. In that mix was Kitty Carlisle Hart, who played New York doyenne like no other up until her fabulous and final 96th year.

She was a legend on the game show To Tell The Truth, sometime-actress, sometime-singer, philanthropist, and widow of playwright Moss Hart. But according to Liz Smith, Kitty's best gift to her fans was the psychological advice she followed herself. Every morning she looked in her mirror and said, "Kitty, I forgive you!" before she started her day.

Something for Britney, Lindsay, Paris, and all of us to consider?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

April 24, 2007: Buh Bye Rosie

Rosie is leaving The View, and in the wake of Imus and several other shock jocks on radio and TV, such as the "Flied Lice" firing, we'll hear one less celebrity voice weighing in on everything.

But as summer turns to fall, so then Rosie turns to Star, and we can look forward to The Star Jones show on Court TV this fall.

Funny how these two are taking turns in the overbearing-celebrity
-talk-show-host hot seat.

For as many serious socio-political issues as Rosie tackles-which one can argue contribute to raising consciousness about gay/lesbian rights, gun control, and the Bush administration-will her tenure be remembered as a celebri-spiral of feisty sound bytes about, and overblown feuds with, other celebrities like Donald Trump?

Monday, April 23, 2007

April 23, 2007: Celebri-spiraling Out There in TV Land

The TV Land 2007 Awards were shown last night and I am still recovering from seeing:

  • Kelly Ripa parody all my favorite TV show openings, such as "The Brady Bunch", "The Flying Nun," "That Girl," "Mary Tyler Moore" and "Laverne & Shirley" with Cindy Williams looking like Cindy Williams' mom. I am still jealous. How fun would it be to recreate those iconic openings?
  • Jeff Conaway, the once hot star of Grease and Taxi, barely making it through a quick thank you at the podium when Taxi won the Medallion award. The years, and drugs, have not been kind to him.
  • Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr., who looks older than his father ever did, honor their mom, Lucille Ball. It's so hard to see your teenage icons like Desi, Jr. get older and really show it. If I am troubled, I can only imagine how Maureen McCormick is handling it.
  • Sissy and Jody from "Family Affair" acting as stage ushers during the broadcast. OK, Jody weighs 300 pounds if he weighs an ounce. Celebrity Fit Club, look no further than the TV Land awards for your next season.
  • "The Brady Bunch" kids, who all made classy comments (even attention-needy Greg) and the timeless Carol Brady, Florence Henderson, who looks sexier now than she did in 1970.
  • The casts of Hee Haw and Roots, both honored and juxtaposed at nearby tables. OK, someone has a sense of humor. Cicely Tyson, Levar Burton and Ben Vereen, meet Roy Clark, Barbie Benton and Misty Rowe.
  • Lindsay Wagner accepting an award for being the Bionic Woman and then knocking over the podium.
The TV Land awards are like walking back in time for me and seeing friends from my formative years. I have so much vested in those people and shows. On this one night every year, I am reminded how so many of us do.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

April 22, 2007: Saturday Brunch with Tammy and the Stars

Dynamic Tammy Haddad, producer for the Chris Matthew Hardball show, and David Adler, my old friend and founder of the burgeoning BizBash empire, threw a 10th annual brunch before the White House Correspondents Dinner.

The backdrop was a sea of actors and news/entertainment figures like Ann Curry, David Gregory, Tim Daly, and Kerry Washington. It was a great time, but surreal, which is also the best way to describe the dinner itself. Politicos, Media, and Celebrities (in the very broadest use of the word) converge on the Washington Hilton to mix, mingle, see the President, and basically roast the town.

Some of the highlights:

  • Standing in line for the bathroom with Miss America and her grandmotherly handler, who made a point of saying to me, "Hi, who are you? What do you do?" As soon as I responded, she said in the loudest voice I have heard in years, "Meet Miss America!" I shook Miss A.'s lovely, well-manicured hand, asked her a scintillating and unique question ("What are you enjoying most about your travels?"), and listened to her response, which centered around helping needy kids through the Children's Miracle Network. Duh. Did you think she'd say, "Hanging at Lindsay's cribs and kicking it with hot soap opera studs?" I watched this same pattern repeat as Miss A. circled the buffet line, trying to eat in peace and secretly play with her Crackberry as she deflected typical beauty-contestant-banal questions.
  • Reconnecting with David, who I've known for twenty years, since we ran around Washington together after I graduated from UVA.
  • Asking the very charming and gracious Tiki Barber how the first week of his new job as Today Show correspondent went, given that he spent it covering the Virginia Tech shootings. His responses were what you'd expect, but hearing them firsthand was bizarre. I kept thinking that I should stand back to take him in better, as I would from a TV.
  • Talking with David's father, Warren Adler, a sharp, prolific writer of 29 books including The War of the Roses. It was fun hearing him expound on publishing, current trends, and how fickle an industry it is.
There's not much doubt that the brunch was more fun than the dinner itself, and not as charged. As I wrote in an earlier post, events like the WHCD are inherently conflicted.

Of course, I wanted to ask some of the news stars if events like the White House correspondents dinner feel strange; maybe too much mixing and mingling that cuts into the doggedness with which they are entrusted to pursue important political stories? But I didn't. The brunch was a great party of mostly media reconnecting, not intersecting with the political subjects they cover. So the balance was much different than the dinner.

I heard from friends who attended that emcee Rich Little wasn't funny. But honestly, it's just not a funny time in America right now. Last year, Stephen Colbert's skewering was too close to home, literally, with the President a few feet away scowling at The Daily Show star as he ripped in W's administration. This year, Rich played it safe, and it sounds like it was appropriate, which, of course, bores the audience to tears.

In true celebri-spiral fashion, the major press of this dinner is always reserved for the timeliest celebrity, which as we all know, has nothing to do with cultural contribution, art, or anything else of note. This year, in a crowd that included Jane Fonda, Teri Hatcher, James Denton, and a few others, recent American Idol castoff Sanjaya stole the spotlight, much like Ozzy Osbourne did in 2002, the last time I attended.

According to The Hill's fun recap, even veteran photogs grappled with this one as the off key 17-year-old was swarmed by flash bulbs at the Time magazine party:

A man who has just taken his picture remarks, “It’s retarded. Why am I getting a picture of this guy?”

Good question.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

April 21, 2007: Child Stars. Whatever Happened To...?

This morning I went on an Internet hunt ISO Michael Schoeffling, Eve Plumb, and Kristy McNichol. Do you know who they are?

Answer: Jake Ryan, Jan Brady, and the girl from "Family" and "Little Darlings," a teen movie that only Matt Dillon survived with career intact.

I can't say why I woke up nostalgic, wanting to revisit some of those actors who I related to when I was a teenager. But there I was, drinking coffee and remembering how much I:

  • Liked Jake Ryan's characters in Sixteen Candles and Mermaids; he was the ideal teenage guy of my teenage era. No one else came close. It was James Dean, then teen idols like Keith Partridge, then him.
  • Loved all the older kids in The Brady Bunch, but Eve is the only one who never shows her face now so I am most curious about her. I also liked her in the Dawn, Portrait of a Teenage Runaway movies with Leigh McCloskey. I used to imagine running away with both of them and living on the streets of Venice Beach as they did, with a bunch (pun intended) of other misunderstood teens.
  • Related to Kristy, the daughter on Family, my 70's favorite show for a couple of formative years. I used to watch their so-called dramas and think this is nothing compared to real life, but still it was the only show that attempted to show a darker side of family life. I could tell that Kristy, who is about my age, agreed with me, and that drew me into the weekly story. Plus, big surprise, she played a tomboy named "Buddy" who might as well have worn rainbow beads and played the Indigo Girls. The first really obvious teenage gay character on TV? Maybe.

I spent fifteen minutes finding three former actors, who had a white hot fifteen minutes of fame at least two decades ago, via this site. It updates you on their lives since their entertainment heyday. I am curious the child stars who made an impression on me when I was a teen, and where life has taken them. Were they done when they left, ready to move on? Or, did the offers dry up, and if so, were they bitter about that?

Unlike the child stars who OD (Dana Plato), move to Lifetime movies and industry slots at SAG (Melissa Gilbert), or simply refuse to leave until the last, exhausted-15- minutes -of-fame-breath is sucked out in his presence (Danny Bonaduce), these three keep a mighty low profile.

Want to know what happened to them? Here's the update on Michael, Eve, and Kristy.

Which child stars are you curious about, and why?

Friday, April 20, 2007

April 20, 2007: Happy Father's Day Alec Baldwin

This phone call caused me to have a complete celebri-spiral. It's one thing to read about celebrities behaving badly; it's another to experience it on tape. On the call, an enraged Alec Baldwin, who clearly needs to head back to Anger Management classes, unleashes a volcanic tirade of threats and insults on his 11-year-old daughter, Ireland, calling her a "thoughtless little pig," and bashing his ex, Kim Basinger.

TMZ obtained the whole thing "unfiltered and raw" (dramatic Web copy, TMZ. Brava!) I mean, I hate it when my nieces don't answer their cell phones, but going all "Thea-tuh Actor" meets "The Sopranos" on your kid is not going to win you a Father of the Year award.

The tape cost Baldwin his visitation rights, at least temporarily, and I have a feeling a few publishing execs are praying there's an "out" clause in Alec's book contract to pen a tome on fathers facing divorce and custody issues. Um, maybe Kevin Federline should write this instead now.

Or, maybe someone should write a guide for celebrities so that they understand how to win on the new digital playing field, which records their every movement, drunken fall, panty-less escapade, and voicemail message. Instead of running the bases with ease, many of them are getting knocked out by the ball. Call the book "From here to youtube in less than an hour."

As for today's latest celebri-spiral, doesn't the Baldwin-Basinger marriage and subsequent divorce make War of the Roses seem like Ozzie and Harriet Have a Spat?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

April 19, 2007: New Celebri-spiral Reality Show! Raising Danni-lynn Annagurl Birkhead

Oh come now. Did you really, really think this was over? It's not over. It's just beginning.

I am going on the record today with a prediction. Within three months, a deal will be inked for a new reality series based on Larry Birkhead raising his and Anna Nicole's baby daughter.

Possible series titles:

1. Attagirl, Annagurl
2. Daddy Blondest
3. Daddy's Not a Professor (with Juliet Mills as the nanny)
4. She's a Rich Girl (with theme from Hall & Oates)
5. Fathers Know Best (with Howard K. Stern as "Wally")
6. Larry, Ho, and Cutie

What would you name the show?
And will you send me a dollar in the mail if my prediction is correct?

I hereby make a promise to never watch it, not once, ever. How do you feel about it?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

April 18, 2007: Global Bollywood Celebri-spiral

So glad to see the world has its priorities in order, as lawyers file suit against Richard Gere for his showy Hollywood kiss of an Indian actress.

It's not like he peed on her, people. Dammit, this is what I hate most about celebri-spiraling; that is, my misbegotten need to defend celebrities like Richard Gere, whose worst crime is a showman's eagerness to hog the spotlight.

So when will the American Gigolo references start? Blogosphere, I am waiting for the predictable moment that I know will come.

Please, global rioters, I beg of you, let love lift us up where we belong.

And celebrities, please think twice when traveling. No liquids, weapons, or PDA! When will the violent kissing stop?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April 17, 2007: Celebrities for Gun Control and An Idiot-in-Chief Who Makes Me Celebri-spiral

Surrounded by junk food and escapist magazines, one with an incredibly important update on Jen and Angie (Feuding! Simmering! Splitting! Plotting!), I wasn't very successful at escaping last evening, as televised coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre played in the background like a bad, broken record.

After all, as Jossip notes, how do you get excited by network execs opting to show Dancing With The Stars, Deal or No Deal and Two and a Half Men rather than risk alienating advertisers by covering the deadliest school shooting incident in U.S. history?

Maybe the lack of escape was a good thing. I found this while surfing the Internet:

The NRA has posted a list of organizations and celebrities that have lent monetary, grassroots or some other type of direct support to gun control legislation (which they call anti-gun, of course).

The list encompasses just about every decent organization I can think of, and includes some surprising celebrities (Boys II Men, VIP protection expert Gavin de Becker, NBA star Rick Fox), as well as the usual suspects (Streisand, the two Democratic Baldwin brothers, Jane Fonda).

So while this tragedy renewed calls for tighter gun controls, our genius in the White House had the audacity to quickly cut them off, as noted feverishly in The Huffington Post's You're a Monster, Mr. President. The article excoriates W's so-called expression of sympathy that reinforced his policy to vigorously enforce the right to bear arms. Timely, Mr. President! Timely!

Most of the leading presidential candidates put out statements expressing their horror at the killings, but none mentioned that my home state of Virginia has some of the most lax gun laws in the country or that, according to The Washington Post, The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence reports no measurable gun control success in the eight years since Columbine.

Speaking of which, what will Michael Moore have to say, especially in the wake of his film Bowling for Columbine, which spotlighted on-campus shootings and America's relationship with guns? The one really scary, discernible difference between then and now is a lack of shock. How inured have we become to this level of social violence?

Other questions I'm thinking about today:

Monday, April 16, 2007

April 16, 2007: A Truly Sad Day Puts Headlines in Perspective

Today, after seeing reports of the The Virginia Tech massacre, I have the "celebrity culture is stupid and meaningless, as is laughter, ambition, and just about everything other than friends and family" feeling that we all had after 9-11.

Sadly, ironically, here's one of the Fox News headlines from earlier today: Virginia Gun Dealers Hold Contest to Protest New York Mayor Bloomberg's Gun Policy. What is it going to take to change our ridiculous gun policies in this country? Where is the lack of tolerance for that issue, when we have a seemingly endless supply of it for just about everything else?

Where are the celebrities for this cause? I truly wonder what the anti-gun control crowd thinks about when they hears that some lunatic, who probably got his firearm quicker than I can get through the checkout line at Walmart, shot up a bunch of college kids? How would someone like NRA-loving-movie-icon-with-a-man-wig-worse-than-Burt-Reynolds Charlton Heston react, if he wasn't dying of Alzheimers right now, spared from seeing today's carnage?

After the rallying cry around Imus, which now feels like the lone BB gun shot heard 'round the world, I wonder which notables will rally for gun control to rectify the cacophony of semi-automatic rapid fire shots from not one, but two, automatic weapons that felled Virginia Tech?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

April 15, 2007: Robbie's Celebri-spiral Video: She's Madonna

In his new Madonna celebri-spiral video, Robbie blows off every trannie in town, including super-surreal post-op Alexis Arquette, to have "drinks with Kate and Stella" and meet "Gwyneth and her fella."

The moral of the video is touching: why waste time with a 1) guy, 2) girl or 3) genderless crackwhore from Brighton (it's Robbie; could be any of the three) when you can suck up to a celebrity?

"I love you baby, but face it, she's Madonna."

This is the extended, funnier, and well-worth-the-spoken-intro version.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

April 14, 2007: Take Today's Celebri-spiral Poll

Full of celebrity crap? Then keep saying to yourself, "Imus rest, Imus rest," and take that breather along with me, people. No more of the scary, vilified man in the cowboy hat for awhile. Instead, turn your attention to Ad Age's latest poll, which is right up the ol' celebri-alley.

The most recent poll topic: after years of an exponentially expanding celebrity-obsessed culture, you thought the public's appetite for Britney's bare head, Katie's romantic prison and Anna Nicole's early death could never be sated. But the weeklies that peddle those stories are, it seems, finally hitting a ceiling. Even though publishers and beach readers say it ain't so, there are suddenly several reasons to believe that the giants of gossip are maxing out.

Warped celebri-spiral readers know that I wrote about this a few days ago. Since Ad Age has not published the results yet, what do you think? Based on our limited celebri-world view, is America's seemingly insatiable appetite for celebrity magazines finally starting to wane?

Then, get revved-up-judgmental and let us know if, dammit, it should wane.

Friday, April 13, 2007

April 13, 2007: Put a Band Aid on My Imus Celebri-spiral

Fire Imus. Yeah, that will solve everything.

We're all in a celebri-spiral over irrelevant, tasteless, and judgment-free Imus. But firing him is a band aid. Worse, I fear it means the conversation about race and what's OK to say on air stops instead of doing what it really needs to do, which is continue.

I am the last person who'd defend Imus, but where is the equanimity?

I love Coach Vivian Stringer, who said smart things like "I don't know if I will forgive Imus. I may. But forgiveness has to be felt" and then, today, forgave him. She and the Rutgers players seem smart, heartfelt and true. They truly have my respect.

My gripe is the demagogues who've taken to their podiums, pounding fists and saying we need to defend from people who demean others.

Oh really? Then why don't Al "Tawana Brawley" Sharpton and Jesse “Hymietown” Jackson criticize the rap artists who write/sing about killing hos, bitches, and fags?

Speaking of fags, during this sad, long week, Roseanne bashed gays:

"Never once in my 54 years have I ever once heard a gay or lesbian person who’s politically active say one thing about anything that was not about them. They don’t care about minimum wage, they don’t care about any other group other than their own self because you know, some people say being gay and lesbian is a totally narcissistic thing and sometimes I wonder. I’ve never heard any of them say anything except for 'accept me ‘cause I’m gay.' It’s just, it’s screwed. It’s no different than the evangelicals, it’s the same mindset. They want you to accept Jesus and you guys want us to all believe its ok to be gay."

Um, what about the three anti-war demonstrations, four Susan G. Komen breast cancer races, four pro-choice marches, letters to Congress about our many children left behind in a country conflicted over reasonable national standards, and other contributions to causes that have absolutely zero to with my being gay?

If someone poked a microphone in my face and asked me my opinion of her comments, I hope that I'd be as articulate as poised and strong Coach Stringer.

But no one bothers Roseanne. She slurs on the radio with a free pass. It's not only Roseanne.

Michael Richards is excoriated and rightfully so. Mel Gibson, too. But they are not on public airwaves, and it remains to be seen if market demand for their work has been hit. In the last year, however, there've been other choice abuses on our federally regulated airwaves that have gone unpunished:

Rosie O'Donnell knocks Asians. Has she left The View? No.
Ann Coulter calls Clinton, Gore, and John Edwards "fags." Banned? No. Nothing happens.
Isaiah Washington calls co-worker a fag. Post rehab, he's still on air.
NBA player Tim Hardaway says "(Gays) shouldn't be in the world or in the United States." Has he been shot down in a meaningful way? Nah.

And if Imus said the women's basketball team were a bunch of rowdy dykes, his scandal would have died, too.

My point is that, as a country, people, and as media watchdogs, we are very selective when we choose the focus of our outrage, and how to express those deep-seated feelings that fuel our speech, actions and, sometimes worse, our unexpressed thoughts.

Anyone seen Crash lately?

The other racial story this week is well under the media radar. Where's the statement from Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson apologizing to the now exonerated Duke Lacrosse players? How does a prosecutor say that no further criminal investigation is planned? Why is the exotic dancer-sorry, I mean stripper-getting off without a possible fraud investigation now if withheld exonerating evidence that might disbar the prosecutor prove that charges were false?

If hatchet-ready CBS is serious about improving race relations, will they look at their music business arm? Or was the decision all about money?

We expend about as much critical analysis of these choices as Bush and Co. did in choosing Saddam Hussein, of all possible evil-bad-guy-dictators, to go after in the misbegotten Iraq war.

Face it, Imus is an easy target. His remarks are inexcusable and he's unlikable, especially amid talk of other racial commentary and cancer camp impropriety.

But what comes after the likely suspects climb down from their demagoguery soapboxes? Will we hold Al Sharpton accountable for all the high minded things he's proposing? Why don't we note in three months if rap/hip hop changes, or if he ever brings up Duke's Lacrosse players again?

If this sad Imus episode becomes an opportunity for people to have conversations about race and public discourse, that would be a great outcome from an unfortunate, hurtful remark. If one young African American girl feels like there's an army of defenders out there to protect her from bigots, unlike what many experienced when we were the targets of mean, hurtful comments, yet too little to defend ourselves, then I am glad.

Still, there are many unanswered questions. Will there be standards for all to uphold, on airwaves and in life? Will people look into their hearts, dig a little deeper, understand themselves a little better, and pay attention to the relationship between words and context, without hiding behind the falsity of political correctness?

I hope that this celebri-spiral leads to substantial, balanced dialogue, addressing real issues of race that fester in this country. But if it's just another passing celebri-spiral, then what a waste. Skip the band aid. Take the opportunity this latest "crash" provides to heal the wound.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

April 12, 2007: White Rabbit's Celebri-spiral Ode to Imus

By this point, what's left to say about Imus and the "ho" shots heard 'round the world?

MSNBC dumped him. CBS suspended him from radio, and as the advertisers flee, how long before they give him the boot, too? The women's basketball team of Rutgers is so earnest and appealing that he looks worse by the minute. Now there are allegations of previous racial comments and improprieties at the cancer ranch. All of this before he makes an apology at the school to those young women, and the world, and we see if he moves the dial in his favor at all. I never liked him, but I'm hinging my opinion on the damnation by fellow shock jock Howard Stern. So take that with the largest acre of salt you can find.

Most importantly, he's causing me to have a total celebri-spiral, in which I am Lost in Imus-land and the World of the Haters.

Instead of taking an Alice-like-dive through the I HATE IMUS looking glass, I composed this little ditty to get me through my Imus celebri-spiral.

(Sung to the tune of "White Rabbit")

One show makes you larger
And one slur makes you small
And the slurs that guests throw to you
Don't keep you on the ball!
Go ask Imus
When he's two feet tall

And if you go dribbling caca
And don't know you're going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah smoking bloviator
Has given you the call
Recall Imus
When he was just as small

White men on the radio
Think they know how far to go
And you just had some kind of mushroom

And think you're a frat boy with your bro

Go ask Imus

I think he'll know

When logic and a muzzle

Were never on your head

And the team coach defends her Forwards

And Al Sharpton's "off with his head!"

Remember what Mel and Kramer said:

"Dude you're dead,
Dude you're dead,
Dude you're dead"

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

April 11, 2007: Celebri-spiral Role Model of the Week

Where in the world is Matt Lauer, you ask? Well, he's right here as our first Celebri-spiral Role Model of the Week.

Every week I'll choose one celebrity who exemplifies anti celebri-spiral qualities such as:

  • Productive, with the attention focused on the work.
  • Entertaining, without leveraging personal life.
  • Smart, but not sanctimonious or snotty.
  • Clearly human, highly likable and relatable , without overstepping TMI boundaries.
  • Celebrated, but without taint or scandal looming like a black cloud.
I watch Matt every morning on The Today Show. He's smart, stylish, funny, and very famous. But despite the fact that tabloids whisper about separation/divorce, and he's asked personal questions all the time, he never goes there. He avoids the dark side of celebrity and stays on the sunny side of the street. I enjoy Matt and feel that he'd much rather hang out with me than obnoxious, obtuse Al Roker, but does he make me celebri-spiral? No. Give him the damn award.

Who would you nominate for future Celebri-spiral Role Models?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

April 10, 2007: Larry and I Have News!

Celebri-spiral Special Alert! Based on today's DNA hearing, my boyfriend Larry Birkhead and I will be raising Dannielynn (and changing her name) in WEHO.

Photographers captured the happy looks on our faces as soon as the verdict was announced (That's me hugging our new nanny, and Larry outside court).

Once Larry and I get home, her new name will be Tiffanylynn Annagurl Birkhead-Singleton

Larry and I couldn't be happier. We're staying in tonight, redoing his highlights and working on our joint blog post.

We're tired of hugging Howard, so we're friend-tiering him. He is soooooo D-list as of now. Virgie is celebrating with a Big Mac, fries, and a box of Cheez It. She can't wait to take T-lynn to Payless Shoes for some shopping, and then to Wendy's for the Virgie special: fries dipped in a Frosty. Yeah, that will happen. Back to Texas with you, Granny Clampett!

Monday, April 9, 2007

April 9, 2007: Celebrity Magazines Are Falling! It's a Celebri-Sky-Fall

Celebrity magazines are falling! Celebrity magazines are


Oh shut up and quit having a celebri-spiral, Chicken Celebri-little!

Maybe it's just a cycle. Or, maybe not?
Here are the facts:

* Star cuts its reported circulation!
* OK! misses its rate base!
* Growth slows at US!

According to today's Ad Age's article Guess Who's Not Getting Any Fatter! Celeb Mags Max Out (shout out to reader futurejunkie for providing tip), celebrity coverage has hit the fan, the wall, or the ground, depending on where you sit in the hen house.

Can you just picture bloodbaths the color of the red carpet, as pink-slipped celebri-journalists slip their exclusives-in-progress into secret coat pocket compartments before Security escorts them out the back door of American Media?

Is waning interest to blame? Doubtful. Blame TMZ.

Or, this could be a blip, who knows?

Still, it's fun to speculate that the celebrity magazine sky is falling.

Don't you like the thought of Bonnie "Foxy Loxy" Fuller and Janice "Cocky Lockey" Min panicking after "Chicken Licken" Ad Age dropped an acorn of a report on their heads?

Sunday, April 8, 2007

April 8, 2007: Jimmy Kimmel Takes on Paparazzi But Gawker Takes the Hit

Did you see Jimmy Kimmel filling in for Mr. Suspenders on Larry King Live? He's now Jimmy the pitbull as far I am concerned.

The topic was paparazzi; here's the transcript. Jimmy took them on, but as this YouTube clip attests, he really went after Gawker with guns blazing. Gawker lied about his alcohol consumption, and he took Gawker editor Emily Gould to task for Gawker's reporting of unsubstantiated facts, going so far to note that even US Magazine fact checks (gulp). If that wasn't bad enough, the silly GawkerStalker site spurred a "this will cause the next John Lennon!!" furor among the lowlife panelists, who, in true paparazzi fashion, went below the belt to get an opportunistic shot.

It was an awesome show, and those of us who follow celebrity culture took a hit, too, right along with Emily. She should have conceded that Gawker is the funny Spy Magazine of online celebrity web sites, instead of grabbing at straws to defend its journalistic integrity.

See it on repeat if you can; the other guests included:

  • Two paparazzi photogs were on, including Peter Brant and the dude who took the pictures of panty-less Britney. He went to UCLA and got a Political Science degree. Way to use it, bro!
  • PR guy Howard Brantman, who hates the paparazzi, but forgot to concede that his clients who want to be stars actually kiss the paparazzi's ass.
  • Ryan Smith , reporter for OK! magazine, which pays celebrities for coverage. Smith finally coughed that nugget up after interrogation by Jimmy, who could at least score a role as detective on CSI: Miami after his guest host shot.
  • Larry King veteran Mark Geragos, who we know from the Michael Jackson and Laci Peterson trials. He came off the best, which says everything.
  • Reichen Lehmkuhl, who was asked about the paparazzi's impact on his relationship with Lance Bass. Poor Reichen thought this was about him. Wrong. What did Lance think? How was Lance impacted? In fact, where is Lance right now?
Gotta love this self-serving exchange:

LEHMKUHL: Well, I mean that's not a war I would even waste any energy fighting. It's just -- you know there are people out there who are going to write things that are not true. I mean we were just talking with this woman Emily; obviously, you let her know that she had no point and that she did not know what she was talking about. And it was really obvious because I completely relate to that. There have been so many times where things have been written about me in relation to my relationship that became very public and it just simply wasn't true. And yes, that's something that upsets me.

KIMMEL: Mark Geragos is with us.

LEHMKUHL: But it might not upset someone else.

KIMMEL: Mark...

LEHMKUHL: I mean I'm not like a...

KIMMEL: Excuse me, Reichen.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

April 7, 2007: Star Jones and the "CEO of What's Good" News

Today's celebri-spiral special is beef and snow peas, with wonton soup and a heaping, steaming portion of Spinning Star Blowfish.

Ms. Jones-Reynolds has been everywhere this week, with a hot new look and endless copy on her upcoming Court TV gig (planned for fall 2007), which I wrote about earlier this year. Radar Magazine covers the strange coincidence numerous media outlets touting Star Jones Reynolds Exclusives! this week, hearkening back to the crazed, celebri-spiralish media stunts she performed back in her bridezilla days.

TMZ's way of coping with Star influx this week was to offer Star Jones paper dolls. Well, if you can't get an "exclusive," I guess you might as well cut her.

But what really made me cast my eye toward future celebri-spirals caused by Star were her quotes in OK Magazine (in Ital):

OK: And who is the real Star Jones?
SJR: Someone who really cares and is passionate about law and how it impacts real people every day. I'm so excited that at this time in our culture, law, politics, pop culture, and entertainment are converging on each other.

OK, does anyone besides me flag this response for its irony? She loves how law impacts real people, but her real thrill is that law and celebrity pop-culture are converging? The two have just about ZERO correlation. More likely, Star will get some hopped-up producers who'll beg, borrow, and steal to land the next Anna Nicole Smith media event. And we know how much that case impacted real people.

OK: Have you been following the latest pop-culture legal battles?
SJR: Absolutely, I am a news junkie.

Pop-culture legal battles and news. News and pop-culture legal battles. Hmmm. And the connection would be...? And her point is? And she defines "news" as...?

OK: How do you get your news?
SJR: I'm a big Internet watcher and I love cable news. I'm a big Court TV watcher. I watch CNN, Fox, NBC, CNBC. It moves quickly. You want to keep up with what people are talking about because the consumer is CEO of what's good.

When it comes to news and media coverage, the consumer is not the CEO of what's good. That's a terrifying thought. The fact that the Internet moves quickly has a pro and con. Sure, we all want tomorrow's news today. But speed sometimes means that information escapes completely or slips too easily past vetted news filters, which is what we need more of right now. We don't need more of Star Jones Reynolds spinning a new show that might as well be called US Goes To Court.

It's not that a new celebrity court show is coming. It's that she's contributing to what some of us immersed in celebrity culture have flagged as questionable. Is it helpful for her to blur the line between journalism and celebrity gossip by making celebrity stories seem more important than they really are? Call the show what it is; celebrity court cases that have absolutely no relevance for most of us, but they sure are fun to watch. Stop pretending.

Anticipating her new show, and her rationalizing spin about celebrity court cases impacting the lives of real people, makes me want to change the channel before jumping headfirst into this Coming Soon! fiery, celebri-spiral hell.

Friday, April 6, 2007

April 6, 2007: Celebri-spiraling in Washington, D.C.'s Fishbowl

After writing this past week about DC's trifecta of overwrought gladhanding and boundary crossing dinners ( April 1, 2007: Crossing the Line Part Deux-Gridiron Dinner and March 31, 2007: What We Call The Celebri-spiraling News), I was disappointed to see Patrick Gavin's Fishbowl DC post Uh-Oh...Somebody Needs To Call This Writer A Waaaaa-mbulance.

The post mocks Hamilton Nolan of PR Week, who notes in his article entitled Joke is On the Press at Annual DC Dinners that there's a conflict of interest for reporters who get so damn cozy with the people they cover when they cavort with them at events like the Gridiron and White House Correspondents Dinner. Ummm, did he lie? He's stating the obvious, at a very charged and divisive time in our nation's history, when the administration these reporters cover is, by many accounts, the most secretive and media-manipulating of its time. If ever there was a time for church-and-state-ish division between reporters and elected officials, it's now.

If you want to be snarky, which is fine by me, then I prefer Gawker's ever so slight re-edit of Hamilton Nolan's article, which riffs on the celebrity-media-flavored, skanky, and tarnished boundary crossings that contribute to global celebri-spirals, not just the politically-infused ones we experience inside D.C.'s beltway. As someone who's celebri-spiraled all over the globe, I have no problem pointing the finger of responsibility for market demand back at negligent consumers like me.

But to ridicule Nolan's basic thesis by saying he's whining and needs to call a Waaaaaaa-mbulance is to strip down and hop into bed with the dark side, if you ask me.

What is Fishbowl's point? Is the blog part of the same incestuous culture that Hamilton Nolan criticizes in his piece? Fishbowl DC dispenses loads of unjustified adulation not just on major media companies and journalists, who Patrick probably hopes will give him a job one day, but on politicians and officials that the press are supposed to be covering dispassionately. It seems to me that Gavin's blog just proves Nolan's point every day.

As a reader of Celebri-spiral told me, the fact that the ostensible DC media blogger is not only totally down with celebrity worship culture, but also throws such school yard insults at someone who criticizes the practice, is a sad commentary on the state of journalism in this town.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

April 5, 2007: Gawker Invited Me to Studio 54, Celebri-spiral to Follow

When Gawker invited me to be an official poster last week (it's by invite only), it was, in some small way, as if Steve Rubell personally pulled back the velvet rope and into the hallowed disco Studio 54 I lept. Studio, as the insiders called it, is the place I most wanted to go when I was in 10th grade. Now, here I am, slipping past the pop culture blog rope.

The questionable facts behind both events are ridiculous (Who waits in line hoping to be chosen and allowed club entry by some hackneyed Queens disco pioneer? Why do you need an invite to post on somebody else's blog?). But the feeling is a flash of acceptance, hearkening back to some high school place in my reverie. I get to play with a select group of cool people! Even if we are all misguided in our celebrity focus, Gawker writers are the sharpest and funniest.

I know that, on some level, Gawker commenting is making me celebri-spiral backslide big time.

But I don't care right now. My attention is focused on a new Gawker post entitled This Week in Commenter Executions, in which Gawker publicly rids itself of the unwanted:

We've got the Grindhouse fever and there's only one known cure, short of actually seeing Grindhouse: execute the bejesus out of a boatload of commenters. Block 'em all and let God sort 'em out. Let's do it. Execution is just that: banishment. Beheading. Public death. The big check-out. Y'all may check the Gawker Comments FAQ. It is also true that banned commenters may return through our invitation. The best way to receive such is to send us cookies (peanut butter, please) or charming and juicy gossip-filled emails.

This post makes my heart stop for a second. Am I on the list? Please God, no. I mean, of course, I want to be on the list, but not this list. Kapish? Is my Gawker career over almost as soon as it started? No, I am safe for now. Damn, Gawker is smart in how they approach postings and posters. Now, where are Liza and Andy?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

April 4, 2007: Tucker Carlson Celebri-spiraler?

I guess so, based on this remark:

"You can mock the New York Post, but let's face it, it is the leading edge in trends in the media" - Tucker Carlson on MSNBC.

I give him credit for saying it. It's not a high-brow comment to make. The intelligentsia will publicly sniff at him, but secretly stuff The Post under their arms as if hiding a dirty tabloid.

But what he says is the absolute truth. With the convergence of celebrity and the omnipresent and all-powerful Oz also known as "media," the New York Post regularly breaks news and is the content source, from which other media outlets borrow. Do you read it? Even if you don't, you read other things that leverage it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

April 3, 2007: Fug It Like Beckham

I couldn't help myself today. My friend C-Saw! recounted a handful of funny Go Fug Yourself moments at dinner. While I tried holding my hands to my ears singing lalalalalalalalala, I found myself on the fashion site later that night.

Fug and Fugs is funny and feeds my Beckham curiosity. I just wanted to skip working and hang out with Heather and Jessica, and, by the way, I so don't believe those are their real names.

Enjoy sample celeb-envy-laden dialogue from the post:

POSH: Don't be a prat.

BECKS: Look, I was getting sick of waiting. It took you two hours to pick your shoes. Who spends two hours picking out shoes to go with pants that don't even SHOW them, Vic?

POSH: Oh, well, fine, if you don't CARE about the details. Although coming from someone who couldn't be arsed to tuck in his shirt before throwing on grandpa's cardigan...

BECKS: Pipe down, Simon Le Bon. I'm not ALLOWED to have closet time while you're still deciding, remember?

POSH: And I expect you're going to blame that hat on me, too, now.

BECKS: It's the only thing I could find that might help me hide.

POSH: Our reality show is going to be bloody brilliant.

The problem is that you want to like him. Alot. And she is just impossible to get behind. And the whole thing just makes no sense. Should we access our inner British upper crust and turn our well-rouged cheeks away from them?

Monday, April 2, 2007

April 2, 2007: GOP Hooker Du Jour Causes Celebri-spiral

While I am celebri-spiraling this week in, around, and about Washington, D.C., can we note this ridiculous exchange between Radar Magazine and Matt Sanchez, the GOP's latest sleazy male hooker with a heart of gold-crack?

This is from my friends at Gawker, which just this week invited me to become an official poster, thereby ensuring many more celebri-spirals to come:

Today, Radar gets with Matt Sanchez, the adult film actor turned adult GOP mascot. (Both careers require someone to have some fingers in him!) It gets really weird. For one:

Radar: "Are you not attracted to men anymore?"
GOP Hooker Du Jour: "I never said I was in the first place. Gay men are like fundamentalist Muslims. If you leave their religion they have to send out a fatwa and demand your execution."

Fatwa, my ass. I'd go to his tongue-ectomy, though. I am proud of my fellow Gawker posters who IMHO outdid themselves on the subsequent comments.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

April 1, 2007: Crossing the Line Part Deux-Gridiron Dinner

For people like me, conflicted over celebrity culture consumption, it's a great thing to have events like the Gridiron Dinner, a traditional schmooze-fest in Washington.

As Linton Weeks notes in his article Stand-Up Comity, One Night Only: At the Gridiron Dinner, a Splitting And Joining of Sides, the dinner affords a chance for journalists and politicos to literally dance around issues of import.

The seasonal Spring line-crossing trifecta in D.C. is made up of the Gridiron, the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association Dinner, and the White House Correspondents Dinner, which I've been to a few times myself. In years past, the politico two-step hasn't seemed so...well, unseemly. At least to me. But these are ugly times for a nation conflicted over the war that's costing our country $8 billion a month.

What I get out of these three dinners is simple-sanctimony! I get to feel superior. I may check out US, or spend too much time on Gawker. But at least I'm not dancing and clapping with the people who lie to me all week, spinning me around the ballroom at night, after spinning me around the briefing room all day.

I'm trying to keep the blog posts, and celebri-spiral mission, funny. The problem with sanctimony is that it's only funny if you get really sanctimonious about it. I'm not there yet, are you?

Give me time and a hitching post to get on my high horse.