Keeping Tabs

They’ve Got a Secret

How tabloids keep some secrets secreter than others.

Keeping Tabs is never quite sure how it happens, but often all three of the tabloids simultaneously devote themselves to parallel—if not outright identical—themes. KT knew this would be one of those times just by perusing the covers of the last six tabloid offerings, each of which positively teemed with intimations of clandestine intrigue. Last week promised Katie Couric’s “wedding secret,” the “tragic health secret” Nancy Reagan is “hiding,” and the “sexpot” Bill Clinton has “hidden from Hillary.” This week’s Globe cover screams that Britain’s Prince Charles has secretly wed his longtime love Camilla Parker Bowles and that Elizabeth Taylor has a “Secret’Son,’ ” (who turns out to be a Mexican street urchin the legendary star supposedly took under her wing in the 1960s). (Emphasis KT’s.)

The Star cover, meanwhile, tells of a JFK Jr. “Sex & Drugs Cover-Up” and that the parents of missing 7-year-old Danielle van Dam—the little girl who has unfortunately been christened “the new JonBenet”—are “hiding” something. (Naturally, all three of the tabs gravitate, like moths to a flame, to the van Dams’ alleged proclivity for swinging; the Star refers to the rumors as “dark and disturbing secrets about her parents’ private lifestyle.”) Over at the Enquirer, the “untold story” of the Enron debacle makes the cover, detailing how the company “secretly employed CIA agents to carry out its nefarious dealings!” And did we mention the Enquirer is also claiming that the suicide of former Enron executive Clifford Baxter was actually a murder?

What is this, a John le Carré novel? Give us some Jennifer and Brad baby news! (Speaking of which, before you go losing any sleep over it, that “Jennifer Aniston dies in baby tragedy” Star cover? It referred to an alleged possible plot twist for Rachel Green, the character played by Aniston on Friends. “But that’s, like, really untrue!” protested a startled Mr. Keeping Tabs. Yes, one of the tabs’ biggest secrets is that sometimes they like to tell lies …

Anyway, as any good student of the tabloid trade should know by now, what constitutes a “secret” in Tabloidland might not seem very clandestine to the outside world. Take, for instance, Nancy Reagan. KT dutifully scoured the story to find out more about that “tragic health secret” she’s supposed to be hiding. “To protect the family, Nancy has shut the world out of the couple’s private life—and keeps her own brave battle secret,” the story intones. But all we could find about Nancy’s brave battle was that the 80-year-old Reagan, exhausted from caring for her Alzheimer’s-afflicted husband, recently had to spend an entire day in bed. Oh, and “in the last couple years, she’s had pneumonia, a broken rib and other health problems.” Secret? KT is no doctor, but it sounds like Mrs. R. is, well, 80. Hell, it sounds like she’s healthier than KT!

Interestingly, the Star’s 16-page special report on the British royal family (“Malice in the Palace: Secrets, Scandals & Lies”) makes no mention of the blockbuster that the Globe is reporting this week: Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles supposedly summoned a small group of friends to Highgrove last month, then shocked them by announcing they were there to witness the star-crossed couple’s wedding. (KT’s favorite detail was that “afterward, they drank champagne and sat down to a feast of roast duckling and creamed potatoes,” which is, coincidentally, the menu for her own upcoming nuptials.) But we never do learn “How They Kept It Secret,” as we’re promised on the cover. (Um, by not spending too much time around tabloid reporters?)

We do, however, learn that the wedding, which included an exchange of rings and vows, will nonetheless remain unrecognized by the Church of England and was the result of Camilla issuing an ultimatum. Apparently she was none too thrilled to learn that Charles’ brother Edward is working on a tell-all documentary about the royals. “Your brother intends to present me as a harlot and a husband-stealer,” Camilla supposedly told her beloved. “He will probably blame me for Diana’s death, too! The only way to stop him is by becoming your wife. Then, he will not dare to insult me.” Not the most romantic proposal we’ve ever heard, but it’ll do in a pinch.

And finally, that “sexy little secret” that former President Bill Clinton is “keeping from all the world—especially his wife,” turns out to be Dana Zevulon, a “gorgeous secretary in the Israeli government’s foreign office.” According to the Globe, Clinton kept Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres waiting for 20 minutes while he flirted with the 19-year-old sabra. “It was like Bill had been hit by a howitzer shell,” proclaimed an “eyewitness.” And “though their meeting was brief, the ex-prez was clearly smitten—and pals say he’s been bombarding the beautiful teen with invitations ever since.”

Unfortunately, Bill Clinton is apparently not as good as Nancy Regan at keeping secrets, well, secret; that photo of him and Zevulon was kind of a dead giveaway. The story claims that Hillary Clinton was “enraged” to learn of her husband’s “pursuit of the youngster. … Hillary has threatened Bill, telling him that it’s the final straw—she’s kicking their divorce plans into high gear.” An insider explains that “Hillary has finally opened her eyes and is telling friends there’s nothing worth saving anymore and it’s time for her and Bill to go their separate ways. She will finally file for divorce, just as soon as all the paperwork can be drawn up.” Keeping Tabs would like to go on record as saying this may be the most protracted case of tabloid wolf-crying in recorded history. Lest we forget, the Globe first reported back in November 2000 that a February 2001 divorce was also a sure thing for the Clintons and has regularly updated its prediction since—April 2001 here and June 2001 here; the divorce was supposedly called off last November but then reaffirmed in December. But shhhh! Don’t tell them we’re on to them! It can be our little secret.