After two and a half years on the tabloid scene, it's rare for a tab to elicit much strong emotion from Keeping Tabs anymore. In the manner of one of those Buckingham Palace guards, trained to stay stone-faced in the presence of even the most irritating visitors, KT has steeled herself to virtually all the tabs' wiles, oddities, and foibles. Rarely do they elicit an emotion stronger than a smile. In fact, as a rule, KT flips through tabloid pages with the kind of detachment most people bring to the latest issue of, say, the Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry. But every so often, the tabs manage to sneak in something that really gets to her.
Take, for instance, this week's Globe cover. "Clinton Blasted as Dog Killer—Buddy wasn't the first!" reads the headline. Shock! Horror! This actually sent KT scurrying through the magazine to find out what on earth this was all about. (Buddy, of course, being the Clintons' chocolate lab, who recently met an untimely end after being hit by a car.) Turns out—or, at least, so says the Globe—the Clintons' cocker spaniel, Zeke, "met the same horrible fate as Buddy" 12 years ago in Little Rock, Ark. "Both dogs were hit by vehicles when they were loose," a Clinton insider "confirms" to the Globe. "Bill was repeatedly warned that his dogs should be trained properly—not to dash out into busy roads. He's heartbroken over Buddy's death, but he knows that he's responsible and should have had the dog properly trained."
Of course the only thing this sizzler is missing is an exclusive tabloid expert opinion on this dreadful situation. Can anyone help? Why, yes! Professional dog trainer Kristine Yaroschuk tells the Globe that "tragedy could have been avoided" had Buddy taken obedience training. "A Lab is a highly trainable dog," avers Yaroschuk. And PETA spokeswoman Lisa Lange is further called upon to offer the obligatory pet lovers' criticism, telling the Globe that the "sad fate of both dogs—plus the fact that Bill and Hillary just gave away their cat Socks when they didn't want him any longer—clearly point to the fact that the Clintons shouldn't own animals."
Eliciting only a mild chuckle—if not a full-on laugh—was last week's "Bin Laden's Body" cover story, also from the Globe, featuring a photo of a sheet-covered corpse said to be the terrorist himself, killed in a U.S. bombing raid. Larry Johnson, the former deputy director of counterterrorism at the State Department, matter-of-factly offers the Globe his professional judgment that "it's possible that Bin Laden is burning in hell." Well, yes, anything's always possible, Mr. Johnson, especially in the tabs. It's also possible that Bin Laden is on Mars or waitressing in Denver. Over at the Star, where anything is also possible, they're reporting that Chandra Levy has allegedly been kidnapped by an Arab prostitution ring. "There is a white slave trade between Western countries and the Middle East and it is quite feasible that Chandra was kidnapped, drugged and shipped off to another country," says "noted criminologist" Ed Bates. And the Globe has a story claiming that a small group of Princess Diana "cultists"—who see the late royal as an "icon to be worshipped and hate Camilla [Parker-Bowles] with a vengeance"—have targeted poor Camilla for assassination, a situation that apparently requires that she have round-the-clock bodyguards.
Having laughed and smiled, the Enquirer actually got KT a little worried with its "Julia Roberts Pregnancy Agony: Joy turns to grief for star & married lover" cover headline. Had Ms. Roberts actually been expecting and lost her baby, as is sometimes the case in a story using the word "pregnancy" in the headline? Did the Enquirer have itself a little scooparoo? Turns out that Julia just really, really, really thought she was pregnant and told her boyfriend Danny Moder as much. In fact, after having supposedly had an upset stomach two mornings in a row, she was so sure that a child was on the way that, according to an insider, "she didn't feel the need to take a home pregnancy test. Instead she basked in the good news a few days before seeing her physician." The doctor, however, apparently told Julia to stop basking: She was not pregnant, hence the "Julia Roberts Baby Heartbreak" headline inside. And big props to Mr. Moder, who supposedly tried to cheer up his girl by saying, punnily, "Babe, there's plenty of time for us to get pregnant. Our baby will be a real labor of love." More joy and laughter for KT!
And finally, this week actually saw KT just about moved to tears by the tabs. You see, for some time, KT has mourned the absence of the world's best gossip columnist, former Dallas siren Charlene Tilton,from the pages of the Globe but dared not say anything about it in print. Was Charlene just taking a rest, perhaps? On an extended vacation? Apparently not. Last week, the Globe introduced a new "Hollywood Gossip" column, penned by one Shelby Loosch, who notes in her introductory column that Charlene has "moved on." (To an Arab prostitution ring perhaps? Or Mars?) Shelby's work seems perfectly workmanlike—Gwyneth Paltrow having a snit fit over some unsuitable designer clothing, Lucy Liu keeping her hair shiny with olive oil, and ER's Sherry Stringfield "pigging out" at a Santa Monica buffet—but in her debut outings, Shelby at least thus far lacks Tilton's flair and charming tendency to use the column as a forum for inappropriately personal reflection in the Larry King vein. (See, for instance, here and here.) We'll allow minor points for cutely packaging blind items in a new section labeled "Loosch Lips," but, well, Tilton Talk it ain't. We'll miss you dreadfully, Charlene. And we'll be keeping an eye on that Shelby character. Hopefully one day she'll actually make us laugh out loud, or weep in despair …