Keeping Tabs

The Nose Knows

The tabloids sniff out terrorist cells and rotting produce.

Last week, Keeping Tabs was roundly convinced that things simply couldn’t get any weirder in tabloidland: A cave-dwelling Saudi Arabian multimillionaire had suddenly become the tabs’ hottest property, relegating Gary Condit and the Cruise/Cruzes (Tom and Penelope) to the gossip world’s equivalent of Siberia. Neither the Star nor the Enquirer put Jennifer Lopez’s wedding—Jennifer Lopez’s wedding!!!—on the cover, while the Globe was filled with sober headlines like “Guerrillas in Our Midst: How to spot terrorists who live among us.” They even ran earnest mini-profiles of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Henry Shelton. Chandra who?

But things were to get much weirder. On Monday, news trickled out that the offices of American Media Inc.—the very company that brings us the Globe, Star, and the National Enquirer—had been shut down indefinitely due to the discovery of deadly anthrax on the premises. Whether or not this bizarre turn of events will shutter the tabs is uncertain, but at this point, all we can do is hope for some of those gripping first-person accounts.

With the tabs getting all PBS Newshour-ish on us, their bosses could almost credibly pooh-pooh the notion that terrorists singled them out in response to their salacious Bin Laden stories. “We haven’t done anything more than the Daily News or Newsweek,” American Media CEO David Pecker insisted to the MiamiHerald. “Our work hasn’t been any different from the mainstream media.”

With all due respect, Mr. Pecker, we beg to differ. Yes, yes, Enquirer reporter Alan Butterfield is filing from a Taliban camp on the Afghan border (“The Enquirer has come face-to-face with the enemy!”), but who else but the Star would think to do a piece on how former Survivor contestant Rudy Boesch—a one-time Navy Seal—is reacting to the terrorist attacks? “Give me a couple of minutes with [Bin Laden], and we wouldn’t need no invasion,” Boesch reportedly told a friend. Says the pal, “If I were Osama bin Laden and I knew Rudy was mad at me, I’d be afraid.”

Let the New York Times spin its wheels all it wants with dense analysis of America’s military might; the Globe assures us that it’s “been written in the stars for nearly 500 years” that we will win the war on terrorism. How do they know? They got it straight from Nostradamus, via “astrologer-psychic” Anthony Carr—the man who once sang the praises of the ancient art of rump reading.

And who needs one of those multipart Washington Post psychological profiles of President Bush when you’ve got the Star to tell you about the hidden meaning in the shape of his “s”? Handwriting analysis by Lillian Newman—an “expert witness for the Broward Country, Fla., courts for 30 years,” mind you—supposedly proves that the president is a “resourceful, visionary man who is solid as a rock when he commits to getting a job done.”

“The ‘B’ in Bush’s signature is vertical—a sign of executive ability, mind over emotion, as well as tact and skill in dealing with people,” explains Newman. “He’s confident he can compete with—and beat—anybody he comes up against.” (Even Rudy Boesch? Oh, nevermind.)

Keeping Tabs is certain that 60 Minutes will soon be knocking down the door of one Joanne Glantz of Delray Beach, Fla., neighbor to the men suspected of hijacking United Flight 93. Did Glantz have any intimate knowledge of the terrorists? Well, not exactly, but her dog, Kwitzi, “would bark relentlessly at those guys,” she tells the Star. One of them once “thrust his umbrella at Kwitzi like a sword. She started barking even more furiously. That made the terrorist even more angry and he told me in a very threatening tone: ‘Get your dog to shut up.’ ” The Star apparently sees this incident as sufficient grounds to call Kwitzi “the dog who sniffs out evil.”

“She did her best to warn us that they were bad people,” says Glantz of her pooch. “We just didn’t understand.”

Some of the tabs do manage to find some actual humans who had encounters with the suspected hijackers. The Enquirer comes through with the inevitable “I Dated a Terrorist” cover headline this week. And while it’s been widely reported that the terrorists may have frequented strip clubs, only the Star tracked down “Lyn,” a stripper who claims to have done a private dance for suspect Mohamed Atta in his room at the Las Vegas Econo Lodge on June 30. “His eyes popped as she peeled off her black bikini top, revealing her 36DD bust,” writes the Star of the man who may have masterminded the murders of 6,000 innocent people. The story even offers a typical moment of tabloid corn: “I told him there were a lot of pretty girls in [a certain dance club],” Lyn recalls. “He drew deeply on his cigarette and said: ‘But not as pretty as you,’ which I thought was sweet.” Awwww.

This week’s Star is largely devoted to detailing how the terrorist attacks have had an equally gooey influence on several high-profile Hollywood relationships. Lisa Marie Presley and Nicolas Cage were reportedly “brought so close together as they shared the horror of the September 11 attacks on America that they never want to be apart again. And they have now decided to exchange vows as soon as possible.” Presley supposedly told her beloved, “We’ve talked about getting married. I don’t want to wait. Let’s show the world and our families how much we love each other. Life’s too short—these monsters have made that clear.”

Feuding exes Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are said to have had a similarly gushy change of heart, putting an end to their “bitter divorce bickering.” According to the Star, Sept. 11 made them realize “that there are bigger priorities in life than the money, jewelry and property they’d been fighting over.” Divorce lawyers must be weeping into their vodka tonics because the Star also reports that Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger have “called a truce,” while Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid have supposedly been prompted to “talk reconciliation.” “Whatever disagreements or differences we have had in the past, it’s all gone,” Ryan reportedly confided to a pal. “Dennis and I both realize how each moment is precious, and we don’t want to waste a single one.” The attacks have also forced Touched by an Angel star Roma Downey to “put things in perspective,” explains a confidante; Downey supposedly sent her married lover back to his ailing wife, “who needs him more.”

Keeping Tabs’ favorite lovebirds, however, would have to be Regis Philbin’s new sidekick, Kelly Ripa, and her husband, soap opera star Mark Consuelos. The Globe has a positively riveting account of how the two “send each other coded food messages whenever they are starving for sex!” If she orders a salad for dinner, for example, that’s said to be a sign that he’s going to “get lucky” that evening because when she eats too heavily, she doesn’t like to be seen naked. (Nutrition consultant Jack Bramson is actually called in to give some perspective, pointing out that Kelly’s choice of salad is “right on target” because it is a “fiber-rich food, which stimulates and enhances your libido and the pleasure centers of your brain.”) Explains an insider, “If they’re shopping and she lingers in the produce section squeezing cantaloupes or sniffing romaine lettuce, he knows what’s on her mind.” And so do we: Clearly, she’s sniffing out evil.