The phrase “You couldn’t make this shit up” clearly hasn’t reached the corridors of power at the tabloids, where they can, and do.
This week’s stories often fly in the face of reality, or appear to be ancient tales that have been stuck in an editor’s bottom draw for years gathering dust until finally exhumed this week to pad out a thin Christmas issue.
Britain’s beleaguered Prince Andrew is the target of the ‘National Enquirer’ cover story: “YOU’RE OUT! Disowned, Penniless & Disgraced. Future King William tells Andrew: ‘You’re KILLING the Queen!’”
This revelation of Andrew’s pariah status comes in the same week that the Prince openly attended the Buckingham Palace staff party with many of the Royal Family. Andrew has also been invited to the Queen’s Christmas gathering at Sandringham, and will join the Royal Family at the Queen’s Christmas Day church ceremony. So much for being disowned.
And penniless? His taxpayer-funded support been cut, but Andrew is worth an estimated $41 million, owns a $17m Swiss chalet and the $10m 30-room Royal Lodge in Windsor Park, drives a Bentley, and owns several London restaurants. We should all be so penniless.
“Disowned Andrew On Suicide Watch!” the ‘Enquirer’ reports on its inside spread. Presumably the 400 guests at Buckingham Palace this week kept a good eye on him as he mingled and chatted with guests. Perhaps the Queen took away his shoelaces and belt before letting him circulate in the crowd?
As for Andrew “killing the Queen,” there’s little chance of that, as he appeared to have been stripped of all weaponry at the Buckingham Palace bash.
Continuing its fantastical persecution of the admittedly self-sabotaging Andrew, the ‘Enquirer’ revisits the Prince’s poor choice in friends with its latest story on billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, reporting: “Epstein Ranch May Spill More Sick Secrets!”
Because the walls of Epstein’s New Mexico ranch can talk? Sadly, no.
Evidently it’s one of Epstein’s few properties that has “never been raided by the FBI,” so the ‘Enquirer’ reports that rumors of the ranch’s sale are “prompting the creep’s former VIP guests to fear what a new buyer could find!" Right.
Because hundreds of hours of hidden camera videos of Epstein’s friends in compromising positions with under-age sex slaves will be laying around in the house and included in the sale price? If such evidence did exist, and this was Epstein’s only home the FBI didn’t raid, you can guarantee that any incriminating materials were moved by him long ago in anticipation of a raid, or they’d have been sold to the ‘Enquirer’ by now by some enterprising housemaid. Don’t expect this ranch to reveal any secrets, unless it’s where to hit the pipes to stop the knocking noise when the shower is running.
“Andy’s Shocking Mile-High Freebies!” are reported in the ‘Globe. "Prince gets wings clipped for using mogul’s private jet.”
As widely reported in the UK, Prince Andrew made a secret deal to fly around the world in a millionaire’s private plane: a dubious arrangement worthy of investigation. But why does the ‘Globe’ think that any jet would fly around at a “mile high”? That’s an altitude of 5,280 feet, too low for any jet except on takeoff and landing. Presumably it’s to subliminally suggest a link to the 'Mile High Club' with all the connotations of clandestine sex mid-flight. Suggestive, yes; accurate, no.
How thin is news this week in the tabloids? Positively anorexic.
The ‘Enquirer’ runs a special feature: “What Shocked & Rocked in 2019.” That’s how you fill eight pages of a dead Christmas week with a recap of the year’s questionable stories.
The ‘Globe’ cover is dedicated to an in memoriam issue: “Farewell. 67 Legends We Loved and Lost in 2019.” That’s how you fill 11 pages with old stories of the stars who died.Their definition of “legends” is also open to question, as the list includes ‘The Young and the Restless’ star Kristoff St. John, ‘Alf’ star Max Wright, Dog The Bounty Hunter’s wife Beth Chapman, ‘The Poseidon Adventure’ actress Carol Lynley, ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ star John Wesley, and Senator Robert F Kennedy’s granddaughter Saoirse Kennedy Hill. All legends in their own minds, no doubt.
Then there’s the tabloids’ mandatory scattering of ancient stories exhumed from dusty graves and paraded as fresh news.
“Stunning Claim,” reports the ‘Enquirer,’ on John Lennon’s assassin: "Chapman Was Brainwashed to Kill Lennon! J. Edgar Hoover Ordered Beatle’s Execution.”
Yes, it is a stunning claim, and the ‘Enquirer’ excitedly notes the allegation is made independently in not one but two separate books.
But wait - J. Edgar Hoover died in 1972, eight years before Lennon, so the FBI chief must have ordered the assassination from beyond the grave.
And what of those two books the ‘Enquirer' cites as its story’s source?
The ‘Enquirer’ fails to mention that Fenton Bresler’s book ‘Who Killed John Lennon?’ was published in 1989, and Phil Strongman’s “John Lennon: Life, Times and Assassination’ was published in 2010. Details like that don't stop the ‘Enquirer’ running the story under the banner: “NEWS.” Maybe it was when they first slipped this story into a bottom drawer almost a decade ago, but just because the ‘Globe' found it in an office clean-up doesn’t mean they should be running it.
Equally fresh is the ‘Enquirer' story: “Stripper: I Got Even With Poison Penn.”
Evidently “sexy dancer” Christina Veronica St. Cyr - you might remember her from 1988’s ‘Assault of the Killer Bimbos’ - claims she went to Sean Penn’s hotel room and was promised a movie job as a “creative consultant,” and then took a $7,000 settlement when the job didn’t materialize. How shocked she must have been. All this happened in 1994, and her lawsuit was reported in the New York Daily News - but that’s breaking news this week for the ‘Enquirer.’
This month marks the tenth anniversary of the death of actress Brittany Murphy at the age of 32, so of course the ‘Enquirer’ launched a deep probe to come up with this week’s “Enquirer Investigation Bombshell - Brittany Murphy Murder Cover-Up!”
The investigation appears to have involved looking at ‘Enquirer’ stories from a decade ago and regurgitating them, repeating the claim by “her distraught dad” that Murphy's body was found to contain excess heavy metals and she may have been poisoned. The fact that she died rail-thin and had numerous prescription drugs in her system when she died apparently isn’t worth considering. Nothing new here, but at least that bottom drawer is looking a lot tidier these days.
But wait! There are new stories too - though calling them fact-challenged is being polite.
TV’s ‘The View’ host, actress Whoopi Goldberg, could be suffering a “health crisis,” reports the 'Enquirer,’ explaining its medical insight under the headline: “Balding Whoopi’s Big Hair Scare!”
In photos Goldberg appears to be experiencing some hair loss with a receding hairline, which ‘Enquirer’ doctors - who naturally have never examined the actress - decide is most likely the result of chemotherapy. Because ‘Enquirer' doctors have apparently never heard of androgenetic alopecia: female pattern baldness, which can occur after menopause. Or maybe the ‘Enquirer’ simply thinks that chemotherapy is a better story?
In another dubious medical story, the ‘Enquirer’ reports: “Relapse Fears for Polio Survivor Robert Redford!” The Hollywood legend - at least, he’s closer to that status than Alf - reportedly looks “unrecognizable” in recent photos. And yet the ‘Enquirer' clearly recognized him from the pictures, which is how it comes to be running this story. This time they don’t even bother consulting doctors who have never met Redford. The ‘Enquirer’ reports that unnamed “sources” have expressed “concerns he may be suffering a flareup of the crippling post-polio syndrome” which can effect people who once had polio, as did Redford as a child. Insta-diagnosis by photo. You couldn’t ask more from the Mayo Clinic if you tried.
The ‘Globe’ stretches credulity with its “breaking news” story about ‘Star Trek’ veteran William Shatner’s recent divorce filing from his fourth wife: “Bill Shatner’s Pony Distress.”
The actor allegedly filed to divorce his wife “after talking horses nag him about her training advice.” In a story the ‘Globe’ is clearly trying to convince itself isn’t as implausible as it sounds, the rag claims that equestrian Shatner is a “horse-whisperer” and that his stable of horses have “been upset” with his wife “for some time.” Right.
Both ‘People’ and ‘Us’ magazines seem eager to rush Duchess Kate into Buckingham Palace, with dueling cover stories. ‘Us’ tells us “Why Duchess Kate is ready to be queen,” while ‘People’ offers: “William & Kate - Preparing for the Throne.’
All of which seems premature, since the 93-year-old Queen shows no indication of kicking the Royal Bucket any time soon, and even when she does, will promptly be succeeded by son Prince Charles, whose wife Camilla will reportedly be given the new title of Queen Consort - not a full-size Queen title, but more of a sub-compact version, the Royal equivalent of buying a Mazda CX-3 with a tiara thrown in as an optional extra. And with Charles’ parents both still alive into their nineties - father Prince Philip is 98 and counting - the possibility of him living to sit on the throne for a decade or two should give Princess Kate ample opportunity to prepare for being Queen.
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at ‘Us’ mag to tell us that Cardi B wore it best, that Jeff Garlin “grew my first beard when I was 57 years old,” that actress Tichina Arnold carries crinkle cut salt & pepper potato chips and jalapeño cheddar corn & quinoa puffs in her MCM tote, and that the stars are just like us: they take selfies, eat donuts and sip smoothies. Riveting, as ever.
‘The ‘Globe’ offers the most unusual take on breaking news, reporting on the convicted New York mobster Leonid Gershman, sentenced to 16 years for gun-running, loan-sharking, gambling, extortion and arson. Gershman had allegedly amassed a collection of “high-end watches” and a Porsche, leading the ‘Globe’ to gleefully conclude that “crime DOES pay - if you don’t get caught!”
But evidently the ‘Globe’ was fascinated by one of Gershman's possessions more than any other, as evidenced by the improbable headline: “Mobster Jailed - Without His $1,500 Belt Buckle!”
Onwards and downwards . . .