When it's a quiet news week, the tabloids love to fall back on their tried and tested favorite: dying stars on their last legs. If only the celebrities wouldn't keep hanging on for so many years afterwards.
"Hollywood Heartbreak!" screams the cover of the 'Enquirer.' "Beloved Stars Sad Last Days!"
Making the grade are 99-year-old Betty White, Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, Yoko Ono (when was she ever a Hollywood star?) Shelley Duvall, Jerry Lee Lewis and Barbara Walters, all reportedly with one foot in the grave and "ravaged by age, disease, weight woes and even mental illness."
"Tom Cruise Scientology Dossier Stolen! Worst Nightmare!"
That might be Cruise's worst nightmare, if indeed he has a "Scientology dossier" and if it was actually purloined – both open to question. The actor's car was stolen while filming in England, and when recovered was missing his personal belongings. The 'Enquirer' doesn't even know if those items included a laptop computer, though unnamed sources speculate it is "likely." So this story is essentially built on four wild guesses: that Cruise had a laptop in his car; that this computer was stolen; that the laptop contained a "Scientology dossier"; and that this alleged dossier contains information that could be embarrassing to Cruise. Fact-driven reporting at its finest.
"Dr. Anthony Fauci Flunks Covid Lie Detector Test!"
Why on earth did America's Immunologist in Chief sit down for a lie detector test to prove that he is not telling the truth about vaccine safety? Because he didn't, of course. The 'Enquirer' employed its favorite pseudoscientific voice stress analyst to study a recording of Dr. Fauci speaking, and reached a conclusion with the scientific precision and efficacy of injecting bleach to cure Covid-19.
"Rage Machine Depp Sports Mangled Hand!" Actor Johnny Depp is apparently photographed with grazed knuckles, therefore "It definitely looks like he punched someone or something," says Dr Stuart Fisher, who has never met or treated Depp. Could Depp have caught his hand in a car door? Or crushed it against a wall while moving furniture? Or fallen while skateboarding? Those aren't options the 'Enquirer' is willing to entertain, apparently. Knowing Depp better than anyone, the rag suggests it was "possibly from a fight." Right.
Meghan Markle is in the 'Enquirer' cross-hairs again, as it reports on "The Dreary Duchess!" Meghan is reportedly "paranoid and friendless . . . locked in a lonely downward spiral after dumping her lifelong pals and being booted by the Obamas." She is supposedly "surrounded by hangers-on and fair-weather lackeys," according to unnamed sources. But isn't that what life in the Royal Family is supposed to be like? Or could it have anything to do with the fact that Meghan and Prince Harry moved last year to a new home in California miles from all their friends, in the middle of a global pandemic that has curtailed social interaction?
"Ding-Dong! Elton's gift is a massive marble penis!" Singer Ed Sheeran supposedly bought Elton John a large marble phallus for his birthday. The perfect gift for the man who has everything except good taste.
"RFK Assassin's New Dream Life." Sirhan Sirhan, having spent 53 years behind bars for shooting Robert F Kennedy, and having recently been recommended for parole, hopes to live "obscurely and privately" with his brother in suburban California. But he's hardly living that "dream life" yet, since six of RFK's children oppose Sirhan's release, and California Governor Gavin Newsom can still deny his freedom.
"RFK Jr. Frees Father's Killer!" proclaims the cover story. No, he hasn't. At the risk of repeating myself: Sirhan Sirhan is still imprisoned, many of the Kennedy family oppose his release, and while RFK Jr had asked for Sirhan's liberty, that may have played only a small part in the parole board's decision, since RFK Jr has been making that same request for years.
"Harry Unmasking Royal Family Nazis!" Is he, though?
The only fact that the 'Globe' knows for certain is that Prince Harry has signed a deal to write a book about his life. It's sheer speculation that, feeling snubbed by the Royal Family, he "plans to settle the score with a bombshell book exposing the royals' secret dealings with Adolf Hitler before – and during – World War II."
There's nothing new to allegations of the Royal Family's Nazi links – the 'Globe' story includes an oft-used photo of Adolf Hitler standing alongside the Duke and Duchess of Windsor before WWII. It's old news that Prince Philip's sisters were Nazi sympathizers. And Harry, who gleefully wore a Nazi Swastika for a Halloween party in 2005, is hardly the best candidate to expose his family's fascist inclinations. The 'Globe' believes that Harry must have possession of "a damning dossier revealing the Nazi skeletons in his family's closet" – doubtless a dossier that Harry purloined from the Royal closet before departing for America. The story is sourced to a "high-level palace courtier," which at best means the cleaner entrusted with changing the lightbulbs in the Buckingham Palace ballroom ceiling.
"Hefty Hillary Health Nightmare!" Hillary Clinton has allegedly "packed on nearly 40 pounds" and hit 247 pounds, claim the expert Guess-Your-Weight team from the 'Globe.' It's an intriguing report, especially since the 'Globe' reported in November 2020 that Clinton had ballooned to – you guessed it! – precisely 247 pounds. At that point ten months ago the rag claimed that Clinton had gained 97 pounds to reach 247 lbs. If the 'Globe' believes its own reporting from last year, then she hasn't gained an ounce since. She just can't win.
"Monaco Royals' $500 Million Divorce! Runaway Princess Charlene kicking Albert to the curb!" Who do you believe – the 'Globe' with its unimpeachable history of accurate reporting, or Prince Albert who claims his wife is suffering medical issues and that their marriage is still going strong? In this case, it's a close-run race.
"Biden's Son Is Neighbor From Hell!" What is Hunter Biden doing to anger residents near his $20,000-a-month rented Malibu home? "Hunter's brought the Secret Service and all the unwanted attention that goes with his notoriety," claims an "insider." Inside what? Inside Hunter's home? Inside his protection squad? If it's a neighbor, why not say so? Or could it be someone "inside" the 'Globe' editorial offices? Hunter Biden's Secret Service team is most likely quietly unobtrusive, but it's the baying hounds of the media – the tabloid reporters and paparazzi who feed the 'Globe' and its ilk – who are probably making life miserable for his neighbors. The headline could more accurately read: "We Make Life A Living Hell For Biden's Son's Neighbors!"
This week's cover girl is an actress, mother and business mogul: "Jessica Alba – Love, Family & a Billion Dollar Empire." She's living her best life and making mint, just as in every other cover story that's been written about her.
"Prince Albert – I am 'appalled' by split rumors – Exclusive Interview." Yet intriguingly it's not quite a denial. Albert categorically denies other rumors – that wife Charlene suffered failed plastic surgery; that she is angry over a paternity suit lingering in the Italian courts; or that their marriage is strained by his close relationship to his two children by a previous marriage – but instead of a flat denial of their marriage being in trouble, he goes on at length about Charlene suffering medical issues that have kept her in South Africa.
"Harry & Olivia: Happy Together." Singer Styles and actor Wilde "are back at work and still setting relationship goals." What are those goals? 'People' doesn't say. And their "happy together" doesn't quite fit the description of Wilde filming the movie 'Babylon' with Brad Pitt while Styles is traveling on a US tour.
"Vanished. Help Us Find These Missing Moms." One could be forgiven for thinking that 'People' mag only cares about beautiful photogenic young mothers. Or do plain-looking and older moms not disappear?
"Selena Gomez – Embracing a New Era." No, they're not talking about the Taliban taking over Afghanistan. Apparently it's a new era because Gomez is "back on TV with a huge hit."
"Monica Lewinsky – What I Know Now." She says: "I regret a lot of decisions from my past, but I'm not ashamed of who I am in any way." Lewinsky has forgiven her younger self, owns her mistakes, has been working with a trauma psychiatrist for the past six years, and says of history: "I hope to become a smaller and smaller footnote who's known more for her accomplishments." But will we ever forget that blue denim Gap dress?
"An Oscar Winner's New World – Alicia Vikander." Selena Gomez has a hit TV series and it's a whole "new era." Vikander becomes a mom and it's a whole "new world." Could 'People' mag be guilty of slight hyperbole on occasions?
Country singer and 'The Voice' judge Blake Shelton is this week's cover boy, talking about "Gwen, Babies & Big Regrets."
But of course Shelton hasn't spoken a word to 'Us Weekly," which nonetheless claims he's happier than ever married to singer Gwen Stefani, that they are still searching for a surrogate mother, and admits his regrets about the break-up of his marriage to Miranda Lambert.
"$2B Divorce Explodes – Kanye's Cheating Confession." Yet it's not quite an admission of guilt, as the rag explains: "The rapper alludes to being unfaithful in a song lyric." Is an allusion as good as a confession? 'Us Weekly' happily takes it and runs with it.
"Ben & J.Lo." The romantically reunited stars of 2003's disastrous box office flop 'Gigli' "are hoping to make another movie together," according to an unnamed source. Can't wait.
Thankfully we have the crack investigative team at 'Us Weekly' to tell us that Duchess Meghan wore it best (but only by the barest margin, edging out Jenna Coleman 52-48, which you'd think would trigger an automatic recount), that actor Mark Duplass "once ate 50 buffalo wings in one sitting," and that the stars are just like us: they ride scooters, shop for groceries, and drink iced coffee. Scintillating, as always.
Onwards and downwards . . .