Tabloid media blurring lines with others

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

Reuters has a big scoop on a new movie that is going straight-to-video. It’s a revealing look at one of the fashion and hotel industry’s leading heirs.

And, it’s going to be a porn flick.

Reuters reports Rick Salomon has struck a deal with Red Light District Video out of Los Angeles to distribute a 45-minute home video that shows Salomon and Paris Hilton, well, you know &045; and possibly a whole lot more.

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Most people have already heard of the Hilton video. Salomon sold it on his Web site for $50 per download, and it eventually was available through other sites as well. Hilton sued a major Internet company over the distribution of the video, saying it was intended for personal use and not for public consumption.

Poor, poor Paris. It seems the little rich girl is going to be a movie star. And why not? She’s already captured the small screen with the embarrassingly lame and insulting &8220;The Simple Life,&8221; in which she and friend Nicole Richie &045; daughter of singer Lionel Richie &045; live on a farm and interact with locals.

It still amazes me that the lives of the rich and spoiled still seem to make headlines and still bring in the readers each and every week.

This week’s celebrity news also features a piece on singer/songwriter Billy Joel, who wrecked his car for the third time in two years. According to the Associated Press, neither alcohol nor drugs were involved in the accident, and Joel was the only one injured. It seems he slightly cut his finger. No medical attention was needed.

Probably the most miserable of media exploits is the recent coverage of Princess Diana’s death. The latest installment comes from CBS, whose &822048; Hours Investigates&8221; last week aired photographs of a dying Diana unconscious at the crash site.

Needless to say, family of the late princess were outraged. British Prime Minister Tony Blair even weighed in, calling the coverage &8220;distasteful.&8221;

Once such coverage of media celebrities were held to the magazine racks at supermarkets. Then they grew to inside pages of metropolitan tabloid newspapers who juiced up their feature offerings with gossip columnists who revel in celebrity sightings and happenings.

Today, tabloid journalism is alive and well on reputable television and cable networks such as FOXNews and in newspapers such as The New York Post and others.

Tabloid sensationalism, it seems, is a catching and growing fervor.

Admittedly, I once was a fan of FOXNews, and I once read the Internet version of The New York Post daily. In the months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, FOXNews was the most poignant to watch, and no columnist was better than The Post’s Steve Dunleavy, who is often described as a &8220;drunken hack writer.&8221; (I’ll even admit to still reading his columns because they are so darned funny and most of the time interesting.)

We live in a society where Hilton’s sex tape makes big news and Joel’s car wreck makes minor news, if only to remind people that his first wreck two years ago led to his entering a substance-abuse treatment facility. I remember a time when tabloid rags at the grocery store talked of alien births and the end of time. Today, most deal with celebrity screwups and sensational murder cases.

Either we’re getting a better breed of tabloid rags or some of what passes as mainstream media is slipping, because it is getting increasingly harder to tell the two apart.

Sam R. Hall

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