Has celebrity gossip jumped the shark?

Has celebrity gossip jumped the shark? (photo)

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The tragic death of Amy Winehouse coming fast upon the sudden disintegration of the News of the World begs the question: Has celebrity gossip jumped the shark? The brief life of Amy Winehouse was — and this is why I bring this up — near the end, a moveable feast for the tabloids. The fact that her private demons were aired in public for all the world to gawk at probably didn’t help her addiction. And when she died, like she lived, the tabloids were there to chronicle the final seedy detail: the removal of the body bag. Charmed, I’m sure.

There is something vaguely seedy about the whole enterprise of celebrity gossip, of paparazzi and of private investigators and their intrusive camera lenses. Do the rich have better sex than war do? And yet there is such a felt need for its welcome distraction, of knowing what and who the stars — “reality” and movie varieties — do behind closed doors, between the high thread count sheets.

And what of us, its consumers – aren’t we all somewhat addicted to this sordid thing? TMZ, Gawker, PerezHilton — before he went “nice” — take your pick. A little bit of gossip is not unlike a sorbet, a light palette cleanser to one’s daily information diet. It has little nutritive value, but in small amounts is quite harmless, even psychologically refreshing. After following the debt crisis and our foreign wars to exhaustion, something light and sweet is necessary for continued sanity. There’s nothing wrong with that. Who among us isn’t fascinated by the creepy behind-the-scenes goings on at the Playboy mansion? Just so long as we get back, at some point, to the important stuff, like paying our country’s bills.

The sordid truth however is that gossip in our society is a lot more than a palette cleanser. It is rapidly becoming the whole damn meal. And it is a meal wholly lacking intellectual vitamins and minerals. It is without moderation a meal that leads to a morbid obesity. Do we really need, for example, to see pictures of Michael Jackson’s corpse? Los Angeles Deputy Coroner Ed Winter’s office was actually offered $2 million for a peek. That is, ironically, one million dollars more than Jackson’s own offer to purchase the elephant man’s remains. Man in the mirror, indeed.

As media organizations cut back on foreign bureaus at a time when international news is most important – think: Arab Spring – celebrity gossip is a $3 billion a year industry and rising. Further, what can only be construed as the greasy methods are being used to get the scoops that fuel the industry. That grease is at present all over Piers Morgan.

Those greasy methodologies on parade at the News of the World parliamentary inquiry recently are not just isolated incidents from across the pond. “In the past few years, a federal Department of Justice team in Los Angeles has conducted a wide-ranging investigation into illegal leaks of celebrity health records and other confidential files, according to officials involved,” wrote Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times in May. And ABC recently admitted to paying more than $200,000 to the family of murder suspect Casey Anthony for home videos and pictures, a source of shame for many in the news division. The felt need for gossip is a powerful financial incentive; the actual association with celebrity gossip is expensive to one’s integrity.

A greasy feast, gossip. It just may or may not have reached a cultural saturation point, may or may not have jumped the shark. But as they say about Lay’s greasy potato chips: no one can eat just one.

What are your own thoughts on celebrity gossip? Do you still love a juicy story? Let us know below or on Twitter or Facebook.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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