The latest batch of tabloids inspired Keeping Tabs to head over to dictionary.com to look up a few rather common words. First on her list was “tragedy,” which the tabs seem to define a tad more loosely than Keeping Tabs remembers being taught in middle school. While she agrees with the National Enquirer, for example, that the accidental drowning of a 4-year-old boy during a birthday party at Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee’s house fully qualifies as a “disastrous event, especially one involving distressing loss or injury to life,” she was less convinced by the Star, which seems to believe that the fact that Cher’s daughter Chastity Bono weighs a reported 300 pounds is worthy of that “Cher Tragedy” headline on this week’s cover. (In good tabloid form, however, the Star does find a doctor who says that Chastity is now considered morbidly obese and “could have a heart attack,” fulfilling the unspoken requirement that every tabloid health story should at least hint at potential death on the horizon. And Keeping Tabs gives the tabloids full liege to label a heart attack suffered by anyone under 40 a “tragedy.”) The Globe also seems to agree that gaining too much weight qualifies as tragedy. To wit, this week’s cover trumpets the “Connie Francis Tragedy”: The woman who was once “the world’s hottest female pop star” has supposedly been “packing on pounds by bingeing on her favorite calorie-crammed Italian foods and fattening ice cream” and is now “tipping the scales at 185.” Tragic, isn’t it? Right up there with Oedipus Joins Overeaters Anonymous and Romeo and Juliet Try the Atkins Diet.
Next on KT’s definition list was the word “crisis,” which was splashed across last week’s Globe cover, as in “Matt Lauer Cheating Crisis: Marriage blowup on eve of baby’s birth.” But the story says not that Matt Lauer is actually cheating on his pregnant wife, Annette, but rather that she is “terrified” that he will begin to do so. “Although Matt’s only had eyes for Annette since the day they met, she can’t forget that he was once a ladies man,” says a family friend. “Annette is worried that if Matt’s roving eye is going to stray, the likely time is during her first year as a mom, when she’s preoccupied with the baby and trying to get back into shape.” Annette might want to take a meeting with Melanie Griffith, who the Star says is also deep in the throes of cheatophobia, even though there is no evidence that her husband, actor Antonio Banderas, has been unfaithful. “All of the men who loved her are gone,” a source says. “She fears that the next person to leave her will be Antonio. That would break her heart and spirit.” Doing its best imitation of a Möbius strip, the Star then suggests that Melanie’s fears of losing her husband may actually come true, but not how she thinks: Her “panic,” the story claims, “might be just the thing that drives him away.”
The word that Keeping Tabs had to look up most often this week, though, was “scandal.” And, perhaps not surprisingly, few of the myriad “scandals” spilled across the pages of the latest tabs actually fit the definition. For starters, the “Gay Sex Scandal” that Cher is allegedly “caught” in, according to the cover of last week’s Globe, turns out to be a lawsuit filed by former “assistant/bookkeeper” Sal Sampino, who charges that he was harassed for being gay by construction workers on Cher’s property and that he was fired after Cher wrongfully accused him of having sex in her bedroom. (Got it. That explains the “Cher Snared in Gay Sex Furor” headline inside.) The story is chock full of interesting insights into Cher’s MO; Sampino claims, for example, that his former boss supposedly “went nuts” after ordering some lanterns from Paris, screaming “I’ve been cheated! I want my money back!” (We can only guess that a “Cher Snared in French Lantern Tragedy” cover line wouldn’t have quite flown off the newsstands.) Similarly, when it comes to the Globe’s “Fergie’s Kid Caught Up in School Booze Scandal,” Keeping Tabs must quibble not with the definition of scandal, but rather with the definition of “caught up.” Perhaps it’s true, as reported, that five young girls at the tony St. George’s School, which 12-year-old Princess Beatrice attends, stole some liquor and got very drunk. But the Globe does its damnedest to pump up the volume so that the taint of impropriety lands as close as it possibly can to the royal family: “Fergie was shocked when she heard about the drinking binge,” confides a royal source. “She realizes just how close she came to having Beatrice caught up in this. One of the girls involved was very friendly with Beatrice and has been acting as a kind of mentor to her.” “Very friendly”? Her “mentor”? What a tragedy!
Along the same lines, let’s take a look at that “New Sex Scandal” that the Star claims Frank Gifford’s former mistress Suzen Johnson is now involved in: She was allegedly flashed on a Florida beach and plans to testify at the trial of the accused. (Let’s see now: Exposing oneself is a sexual act, we suppose, and being the exposee could potentially be considered scand—oh, never mind.) While this one rates extremely low on the raised-eyebrow scale, KT is not going to spend a lot of time quibbling over semantics to defend Johnson’s honor, given that the home page of her Web site features her posing provocatively with a copy of the Globe.
On the plus side, Keeping Tabs is going to allow the Enquirer’s “Jesse Sex Tapes Scandal” cover, although the subhead (“Lawsuit bombshell: Mistress recorded everything!”) is a bit of a stretch: The story claims only that Jesse Jackson’s former lover Karin Stanford has one audiotape of a steamy lovemaking session in which she calls the reverend “Big Daddy.” Stanford tells the Enquirer that no such tape exists, but a source insists that she has played it for friends and that there may be a videotape as well. Keeping Tabs particularly liked that “insider’s” explanation for why Stanford held on to the salacious tape in question: “When Jesse wasn’t with her, Karin was able to listen to the tape and reminisce about their time together, which would make it easier for her to be without him.” Hold on. Keeping Tabs is getting a little verklempt. And you can look that one up.