Tabloid tactics

Like News Hits, you may scan the celebrity tabloids while in line at the supermarket and wonder: Where does this crap come from? On your behalf we read Marlise Elizabeth Kast's dispiriting tell-all Tabloid Prodigy (Running Press, 352 pp., $24.95) and feel compelled to tell all.

It's the reporting techniques that set Kast's clan apart and our journalistically pure eyeballs rolling. Globe veteran Kast blithely recounts going under a cucumber mask and terrycloth to infiltrate Roseanne Barr's spa entourage, sneaking into William Shatner's wedding and plying hotel workers for the scoop on Leonardo DiCaprio's sex life. ("In general, night shift waiters had the best idea of what goes on behind closed doors.") She cozies up to an in-the-closet Hollywood figure by posing as a kindred gay soul seeking advice: How should Kast tell family and friends about her sexual orientation? Other journos debate when the ends of a story justify the means of subterfuge. In tab world, it's a matter of course.

We lost track of how many checks she wrote to sources, but were surprised by a minor celebrity who allegedly tried to sell her own tale of an affair with a star that went wrong. (We're not using her name because Globe nixed the story, and we'd hate to endorse standards lower than Globe's.)

We were even more surprised by the outright inventions. For instance, there was this doozy when Kast was sent to write about Cher's collapse following ex-hubby Sonny Bono's death: "I felt certain that I would be able to write exactly what the editors wanted even without a single interview, source or photo to back up the Cher headline. Could I prove that Cher had collapsed? No. Did she? Probably. Was there any legal risk? Absolutely not. Celebrities are eager for any publicity that shows them in a sympathetic light. I grabbed my tape recorder and dictated the story while I drove."

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention that good-girl Kast is anguished by all this — rendering inner conflicts in the same one-dimensional prose that she used for stars — until she gets out of the tab business.

And we'll be seriously remiss if we don't get back to real news next week. No matter what we've read in the supermarket line.

Curt Guyette edits News Hits. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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