SHOCKING” Why I still hate celebrity gossip shows

There have been complaints for years about blurring the line between “real” news and entertainment. The producers say people want entertainment news which includes celebrity gossip. Some of it is factual and can be “news” but a lot more is worthless except to fill up time. A series of incidents, over the years, led me to stop watching “entertainment news” shows all together.

It started with “A Current Affair” back in 1986. Where the grocery store tabloids started to be used as content on television. Then other respectable news shows about entertainment – like “Entertainment Tonight” – emulated that style.

Some starlet being arrested for DUI was “SHOCKING” or some actor’s mental problems were “EXCLUSIVELY” told on one of the shows. Then you had hosts who last worked as weather readers on some obscure TV station breathlessly interviewing a “friend” of a celebrity who had more “SHOCKING” personal problems… and on and on and on.

I was a long time viewer of “Entertainment Tonight” because of the actor interviews, coverage of upcoming movies, movie trailers, and hard news about the industry (news when it was factual and relevant).

Then that all changed.

The first incident was the death of actress Rebecca Schaeffer in 1989. A stalker had murdered the young television star. “Entertainment Tonight” (“ET”) did respectful stories about then unknown problem of stalking and how Schaeffer’s life was cut short. The series of stories lasted as long as the normal grieving process for those not blood relatives – about a week or so. They also did follow up stories as the criminal case of the killer went through the system.

Ten years later there were a series of incidents involving actor Brad Pitt and a stalker. A young woman kept getting arrested after breaking into his home. The last time she was caught in his house wearing some of his clothes. Luckily Pitt was not there at the time.

I expected the same type of factual reporting on “ET” as happened when Rebecca Schaeffer was killed. By this time “ET” had changed into a trashy tabloid type show but I was still “SHOCKED” when they cross promoted an “EXCLUSIVE” interview with Pitt’s stalker on the old Leeza Gibbon’s daytime talk show! Gibbon’s show was giving the criminal stalker an hour of air time to stroke her ego and tell the world how much as just had to be with the actor.

I threw up a little in my mouth. I changed the channel and have never watched “ET” or shows like it since.

Flash forward 10 more years and it seems much worse. “ET” is even more trashy and is joined with shows like “Extra” and “The Insider”. Not only do they still report breathlessly on the personal failings of celebrities, but they report on manufactured celebrities like the Kardasians and Paris Hilton among others. They now have “Z” list celebrities hosting the shows and interviewing their “colleagues” as if they have a psychology degree as if we should care how some one is dealing with obesity or whatever personal demon is lurking within them.

An argument can be made that a celebrity talking about something serious like drug addiction or domestic violence can lead us regular folks to get help or what not. I agree celebrities can shed light on serious topics of interest to the general public but it should be done in a appropriate setting with real experts or professionals interviewing them – not talking to some failed celebrity hosting a gossip show.

A recent topic on the “The Insider” and one on “Extra” reinforced my decision to not watch these trashy shows if at all possible (I need to change the channel quicker *sigh*).

The other day one of the “The Insider” “hosts” asked “Should John Edwards be wearing an orange jump suit?” Edwards is the former Presidential and 2004 VP candidate who got into a mess when it was revealed he had an affair with a staff member. The question asked was related to the fact that Edwards tried to cover-up the affair.

Covering up an affair is not criminal unless he had someone murdered or committed some other crime. In fact marital issues are and should be private personal matters for everyone including those in the public eye.

On “Extra” they had “EXCLUSIVE” video of actor Nick Nolte dumpster diving in an alley in Hollywood. The voice over breathlessly asked “Is Nick Nolte down and out for real?” playing on one of his most memorable film roles as a homeless man in the movie “Down and Out in Beverly Hills”. They also used the footage to once again bring up is now famous arrest for DUI some years back that produced a crazy looking mug shot of the actor with wild unwashed hair and a cheesy flower print shirt.

If one watched the full story then the fact was he had misplaced a bag with personal items in it and was looking for it as many of us do when we lose something. He was retracing his steps and checking trash bins in case someone had stolen it and dumped it. The final bit of video showed him finding the bag at a coffee shop down the street where he had left it on the counter by mistake.

I guess the factual headline “Actor looses bag” is less interesting then the made up one of “Is Nick Nolte down and out for real?”