A friend recently pointed out that Keeping Tabs has paid relatively scant attention to the JonBenet Ramsey story, a failing of which she’s well aware. It’s not that the tabloid coverage of the 6-year-old beauty queen’s murder has been anything less than scintillating. (A recent highlight was the National Enquirer’s astonishingly detailed painting of the poor child’s lifeless body, bloodied garrote and all.) But following the story’s back-and-forth arc can induce such a maddening case of whiplash that it’s been hard to find the proper moment to pause and reflect. The grand jury’s recent failure to return any indictments in the case seems an appropriate juncture, although any hopes that the story might fade away were dashed by this week’s Globe cover, which shows JonBenet with the words “IT’S NOT OVER” printed menacingly across her forehead.
In recent weeks, one could almost hear the tabloids’ Ramsey machine kick into high gear as each magazine tried to make sure it would be on record as having outguessed the grand jury. (Although after nearly three years on the case, it’s probably safe to assume that they’ve all accused the correct murderer at some point.) The Globe and the Enquirer forecast grand jury “bombshells” and pointed fingers in Patsy Ramsey’s general direction. But more intriguing was the Globe’s report on Patsy’s grooming habits: With her marriage “wrecked” by the strain, she reportedly slipped away to a $2,300-a-week Georgia spa, where, because she “is always concerned about her upper lip getting hairy,” she had a much-needed lip wax “to clear away the dark bristles.”
Not to be outdone by the Globe’s hairy-lip scoop, the Star ran reporter Shannon Loughrin’s undercover exposé on the “shocking sex and booze parties” at the house in Boulder, Colo., where JonBenet was killed. Posing as a partygoer at a bash thrown by the current renters–a group of college students–Loughrin writes as if she were on a pilgrimage to some sacred mountain in the Andes. The occupants, she writes, “hold regular parties … drinking beer, listening to loud music and”–please Shannon, tell us it’s not so–“playing games like foosball into the early morning hours inside the house where the Ramseys once lived.” Loughrin’s insights run from the profound (“I realized how much Patsy’s frilly, feminine decorative taste clashed with that of the young college students”) to the truly anguished (“I passed a spiral staircase on my right, shuddering as I realized these were the same stairs where Patsy claimed to have found the ransom note that fateful morning after Christmas”).
Perhaps sensing that Loughrin could use a little time away from the story, the Star hired former New York City police detective Bo Dietl to investigate JonBenet’s death. In Dietl’s first dispatch from Colorado, the no-nonsense ex-cop claimed to have already zeroed in on the “real killer,” claiming that the Boulder police had been “going after the wrong suspects since Day One.” And while Dietl stopped short of actually naming anyone, a teaser assured us that the following week the Star would reveal “who really killed JonBenet and why.” And sure enough, the next week saw Dietl peeling away even more tantalizing layers: JonBenet, he stated definitively, was not murdered by her parents, although he accused them of lying and hiding information that would solve the crime. And what of the promised revelation? A breathless Keeping Tabs made it all the way to the end of the story, only to have Dietl, citing his lawyers’ advice, wimp out without naming a soul–a decision that instantly shot him to the top of Keeping Tabs’ public enemies list.
I f they are indeed as “close to a divorce” as the Star claims, the Ramseys might take comfort in the fact that they’re in good company. In fact, we’d be hard pressed to find a celebrity marriage that didn’t go under this month. Wandering eyes seem to be behind the lion’s share of splits, from Geraldo Rivera–who the Star says “sneaked a sexy young woman on board his luxury sailboat for steamy lovemaking sessions while his wife was home with the kids”–to America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh, who was “caught in the arms of a sexy blonde,” per the Globe. But the tabs can’t agree on what caused shock jock Howard Stern’s recent split with his wife, Alison; the Globe claims that she lost it when Howard “cheated on her–with a porn tape!” while the Star points to the radio host’s “increasingly out of control partying,” including “wild nights with strippers.” The Enquirer confidently sums it all up in “one word: obsession.” (“Howard’s lifestyle was dictated by his obsession with his career,” explains a source.)
The country’s most famous wandering eye, however, still belongs to President Bill Clinton, who (the Star tardily reports) hit on Tipper Gore during the 1992 campaign. The Gores’ marriage has apparently withstood the challenge, however; the Star claims that they are planning to have another child. (The couple reportedly acknowledges that since Tipper is 51, “natural conception is a long shot.”) But other problems seem to be looming for the vice president. The Enquirer maintains that Gore’s adherence to the Atkins diet has “dumbed him down” and “impacted his thought processes”: The avowed environmentalist is eating steak and recently approved a resumption of whaling.
Perhaps the only celebrity divorce where stepping out was not a factor was that of Michael Jackson and his wife, Debbie Rowe, a parting that even the tabloids had a hard time trying to instill with the slightest hint of dramatic tension. The Globe actually trumpeted: “Exposed! Jackson’s marriage was a sham.” We wondered where on earth there might be people to whom this shocking secret would have to be “exposed”–until the Globe reminded us of that remote research facility in Antarctica from which cancer-stricken researcher Dr. Jerri Nielsen had to be evacuated. The Globe claims that Nielsen, who has universally been lauded as a hero, is actually a “sad, selfish woman” who cheated on her ex-husband and deserted her children.
Michael Jackson might be heartened to learn that according to the Globe, his first ex-wife, Lisa Marie Presley, is “still nuts” about him, even though she’s seriously involved with musician John Oszajca. The Star reports that the couple took what has to be the ultimate ‘90s devotional step by investing $5,000 in computer-generated photos of what their children would look like. In a similar vein, Presley might want to check out the Globe’s computer simulation of what her ex might look like today without plastic surgery. Which leads us to the only real bombshell in this month’s tabloids: The king of pop, it turns out, is actually an African-American man.