Keeping Tabs

Won’t You Be My Valentab?

Broken hearts abound in the Globe et al. 

Those who argue that the tabloids have no redeeming value (and that means you, all you tab-haters in “The Fray“) might want to take a look at last week’s National Enquirer. What American could’ve survived this Valentine’s season without the scintillating piece titled “Cracking the Chocolate Code: How to tell what’s inside those sweet treats”? Our friends at the Enquirer—who seem to be taking their “news you can use” philosophy to new heights—explicate the mysteries buried deep within that box of bonbons. Readers are given helpful tips from the author of All About Chocolate, including: “An ‘R’ swirled on the top stands for a raspberry filling,” and “Rounded, half-ball shapes with flat bottoms signal a cream or soft filling.” Who knew?

In other Valentine’s news, it appears that most of the residents of Tabloidland are heartbroken—and tragically so. Who’s got a broken heart? Better to ask who doesn’t.

“Tragic” Suzanne Pleshette leads the pack, “reeling under double heartbreak,” according to a Globe headline. (Clearly, the sudden death of her husband is one trauma, but the story is unclear about which of Pleshette’s other misfortunes is the second one.) Last week, the Globe’s cover story focused on “heartbroken” former first lady Nancy Reagan, who is said to be preparing herself for her husband’s imminent death. With inimitable tabloid candor, the caption under a photo of the ailing president explains that “the unrelenting march of deadly Alzheimer’s will eventually render Reagan unable to walk, eat, swallow and breathe.” This seemed to be the most sparkling example of tabloidese in recent weeks—until the Globe ran a story about author Danielle Steel’s reluctance to marry George Hamilton, which, in a line that sounded like it came from an obituary, explained that her “[p]revious spouses include a convicted rapist and a heroin addict.” Along the same lines, the Star’s story about Lisa Marie Presley’s upcoming marriage to musician John Oszajca begins, “Elvis’ little girl is about to marry a former drug user who lived in a bizarre, sex-filled commune and once dated a porn star.” (This is the story teased on this week’s cover as “Lisa Marie Presley sex & drugs scandal.”)

The Globe’s sensitive coverage of the arrest of Ethel Kennedy’s nephew Michael Skakel explains that murder victim Martha Moxley “was found on a lawn with her brains bashed in by a golf club.” The story claims that the late John F. Kennedy Jr. (who died in a “tragic” plane crash) “desperately wanted closure on the shameful scandal haunting his family” and “urged” Skakel—the cousin of his first cousins, to whom he had no blood connection whatsoever—to turn himself in by appealing to his “sense of family.” “[John] never gave up on him,” says a family friend. Keeping Tabs must confess she’s not entirely sure if her first cousins even have other cousins, but she certainly has never had the opportunity to serve as their moral compass; maybe the Kennedys just do things differently.

Back on the heartbreak beat, the Enquirer offers up the “heartbreaking secret” behind the new Fox TV show Malcolm in the Middle. The father of star Frankie Muniz, it turns out, “selflessly insisted” Frankie and his mother move to New York to pursue his acting career even though Muniz père knew it would “cost him his family.” The Star weighs in with a cover story on how Mel Gibson is helping “heartbroken” Marie Osmond heal from her separation, while the Globe reports on Tom Hanks’ “heartbreaking family secret” (his grandfather was killed in a “vicious fight” with a neighbor who was later acquitted of any charges) as well as the “heartbreak” of TV legend Loretta Young, whose son was recently accused of child molestation. (The story also includes a “heartbreaking exclusive interview” with the father of the alleged victim.)

When the folks at the Globe are not labeling everyone heartbroken, they’re busy finding everything ironic. It’s ironic, for example, that Joey Bishop calls his former colleague Regis Philbin “an ingrate and a liar,” but nonetheless watches Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. It’s ironic that Burt Reynolds is “pleading” to become a guest host of Late Night With David Letterman, even though he’s long refused to be a guest on the show. The Globe also says it’s ironic that “shortly before her tragic death” Princess Diana joked that Camilla Parker Bowles might have better luck than she at persuading Prince Charles to “open his wallet”; indeed, the Globe reports that Charles is “happily splurging a whopping $250,000 a year on the woman credited with breaking up his marriage.”

And, finally, Keeping Tabs was intrigued by the Globe’s revealing photos of George Harrison poolside at a villa in Barbados, where he is recuperating from stab wounds that could have quite literally broken his heart. According to the story, two “beefy” bodyguards stayed close to Harrison at all times. An “eyewitness” explains, “They were discreet and kept their distance so George and his guests could have their privacy.” The eyewitness appears to have been aided by a very long camera lens. But somehow, nobody at the Globe thought that was ironic at all.