An essential guide to this week's inessential news
"What's Wrong With Biden?" screams the 'Enquirer' cover story. "Constant cough! Shuffling gait! Bizarre behavior! Wasting away!"
It seems strange that the 'Enquirer' is so concerned about President Biden's health, when during the previous administration they didn't mention Donald Trump's equally distinctive issues: Constant sniffing! Difficulty walking down slopes! Exceedingly bizarre behavior! Dangerously overweight! Nonetheless, despite its headline, the 'Enquirer' doesn't really have any idea what's wrong with Biden – assuming that anything is wrong with him at all.
The story promises to answer one intriguing question: "Why White House staffers keep cutting president's mic." But the 'Enquirer' doesn't so much explain this, as simply cite Fox News anchor Sandra Smith, who speculated: "Is somebody telling him that he can't continue and now are they to the point where they are controlling when he has to end his speaking?" It's wild supposition, but wouldn't it have been nice if only someone had ever pulled the plug on Donald Trump, whose speeches could ramble on like an incoherent random-thought-generator for hours on end?
This week's obligatory British royal story informs us: "Charles Digs Grave With Flimsy Denials!"
Everyone knows that an industrial shovel and a good pair of boots are essential for successful grave-digging, but apparently Prince Charles is attempting this feat with only lame excuses for his alleged involvement in a scheme to sell royal titles for hard cash. What are Charles' "flimsy denials"? The 'Enquirer' doesn't say. It simply repeats the allegations against Charles, who has denied involvement in the alleged scheme. The 'Enquirer' also claims that the Queen "has doubled down on her decision to bypass him as England's next monarch!"
For the hundredth time: the Queen doesn't have the power or legal authority to change the line of succession, and Charles cannot be denied the crown after her death. How stupid do they think their readers are? (The 'Enquirer' doesn't have to answer this – it's self-evident in every story.)
"Gabby Petito Autopsy Secrets!" screams a front-page headline about the "van life" murder victim, promising to reveal "What really happened."
But the 'Enquirer' has no idea what really happened, and the "autopsy secrets" are that there are no secrets revealed in the autopsy. Petito's death in a Wyoming national park was ruled a homicide, but a pathologist tells the 'Enquirer' that because of decomposition and exposure to the elements "authorities may never uncover clues to how she died."
British pop royalty is the subject of "Elton In Agony!" Elton John suffered a fall that has reportedly left him "in agonizing pain and barely able to walk!" He is allegedly "bracing himself to go under the knife."
"New Docs Emerge In Wuhan Covid Leak!" No, it's not new doctors emerging with leaked information. It's new documents. But if the documents are new, the allegations they contain are old – at least as early as April 2020 it was known that the US had been funding research into bat coronavirus at the Wuhan laboratory in China. The 'Enquirer' "News Flash!" tag is for those readers who exclusively get their news from the rag.
"Prince Philip's Secret $60M Will Exposed!" declares the cover story. "Leaves cash to Mistresses but disinherits Charles, Andrew & Harry!"
Who can argue with the 'Globe' when it evidently has access to the royal will that has otherwise been sealed to all eyes for 90 years? But even with Philip's last will and testament under seal, it's clear that this story is a frothy soufflé on the verge of collapse. Prince Philip's alleged mistresses – a list of possible affairs he may have had over his 99-year life – are, with only one exception, all deceased, and have been for many years, so no, his mistresses won't be getting Philip's fortune. It has been reported in slightly more reliable quarters that Philip left a share of his fortune to his valet, his page and his private secretary, but the vast majority of his wealth is believed to revert to his widow, Queen Elizabeth. And despite the 'Globe' claim that Harry, Andrew and Charles have been cut out of Philip's will, insiders insist that's not the case, largely because the details of Philip's will were written years ago, long before recent family rifts.
"Tom Cruise Face Explodes!" You'd think there would be blood and gobs of flesh everywhere, but no – the 'Globe' merely speculates that the actor's seemingly puffy cheeks must be caused by cosmetic procedures gone wrong. Or could Cruise possibly be on steroids to recover from a filming injury? Could he have simply gained a little weight while taking a hiatus from shooting? Or could it be that his face appeared slightly chubby in the photo because his head had been squeezed into the cramped constraints of a crash helmet for a parachute jump he was making? No, the 'Globe' insists that any facial bloating can only be because of explosive cosmetic treatments, as "docs worry nip/tucks have gone too far." Can't argue with science.
Sir Ian McKellen makes a rare tabloid appearance, under the headline "X-Men Ian Mistaken For Bum!" He's pictured sporting a tasteful brown suede jacket, a designer scarf, and a pristine pair of high-end sneakers, sitting outside on a sunny day leafing through his script as he learns his lines for a new play. But because Sir Ian was sitting on a sidewalk, the 'Globe' claims that the instantly recognizable thespian was somehow mistaken for a homeless person. As if. A "stunned shopper" in Windsor, England, reportedly offered to buy him "a coffee and a sandwich," but it's hard to imagine that this immaculately attired knight of the realm was mistaken for a vagrant. Could it be that an enterprising photographer suggested to a kindly stranger that they offer to buy McKellen food and a hot drink, for the sake of generating a story? Of course not – what English journalist would stoop so low?
"Holy Cow! Cybill Gains 55 Pounds!" Former Moonlighting star Cybill Shepherd falls victim to the tabloid's Guess-Your-Weight former carneys. But the 'Globe' doesn't bother saying if the actress has gained 55 pounds since she was Robert Re Niro's svelte fantasy girl in 1976 classic Taxi Driver, or if she's suddenly gained this weight over the last few months. She has "ballooned to 210 pounds, estimates a doctor," reports the rag, which evidently sees nothing sexist or demeaning in referring to Shepherd as a "cow."
"Big Trouble In Paradise!" Ben Affleck and girlfriend Jennifer Lopez are reportedly fighting because he believes "it will do them good to have a little time apart" while he films in Texas and she films in Vancouver.
"Elton Sidelined By Hip Surgery!" We know from the 'Enquirer' that Elton is considering hip surgery after a fall, but publishing stablemate the 'Globe' goes a step further, suggesting that it's the surgery that has put the piano man out of action. Of course, the 'Globe' later admits in its story that Elton hasn't actually undergone surgery yet, tacitly admitting that he's actually been sidelined by his fall, not the surgery.
"Clooney's Kidnap Nightmare. Fears Amal's new job prosecuting war crimes may make family target." This sounds awfully similar to the kidnap plot against Amal and George Clooney's twins that the 'Globe' speculated about in 2019 when Amal was prosecuting Isis.
Yet another British royal dominates this week's cover: "Prince William: The Making of a Modern King." Royal biographer Robert Lacey writes an exclusive feature for 'People' mag that says little more than restating the fact that he's been training for the monarchy his entire life, while "Prince Harry has found his freedom." Awww.
"What's Next for J.Lo & Ben." These two appear to have reunited simply out of spite to prove the 'Globe' wrong. Far from taking a break to give each other some space, the couple reunited in New York last weekend, where they "held hands and kissed during a stroll through Manhattan." That'll teach the 'Globe' to write about their needing time apart.
Troubled pop icon Britney Spears is the target of this week's cover story: "The Secret Britney Tapes – It's Worse Than Anyone Knows." No it's not, since we've all been reading reports about revelations in the coming documentary over this past week. Her father and conservator Jamie Spears allegedly "spied on her texts, calls & photos" and "her bedroom was bugged with recording devices," claims the mag. Shocking, yes – but apparently not to Britney. An unidentified source claims she knew about being monitored, "and complained, but no one believed her." As for the front-page headline, which suggests that 'Us Weekly' knows the contents of "The Britney Tapes" – dream on.
"Harry & Meghan Take NYC." It's hardly surprising they took New York – the renegade royals will grab anything that isn't screwed down, if you believe the tabloids. But an insider says of their recent visit to the Big Apple: "some wondered if it was all an act." The royal duo allowed themselves to be followed by a camera crew for a Netflix documentary they are making. "They wanted to capture their philanthropy," says an unnamed source. That's understandable. After all, who wants to perform acts of charity if nobody's watching?
Thankfully we have the crack investigative squadron at 'Us Weekly' to tell us that Emily Ratajkoswki wore it best (doesn't she always?), that 'Twilight' actress Nikki Reed's "goal is to produce only one bag of trash per year," and that the stars are just like us: they shop at supermarkets, pack their belongings in boxes when they move homes, and can carry two drinks and a phone at the same time – all evidently while wearing ugly sweats, leggings and old jeans – just like us.
Onwards and downwards . . .