How the Big Apple Biters Were Bitten ; for Years, the Big Names of the 'New York Post' Made the Lives of Their Victims a Misery. Now They Know What It Feels Like
Foley, Stephen, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
Which veteran newspaperman, a regular on the New York celebrity party circuit, was thrown a $50,000 ([pound]25,000) stag do in Mexico by sleazy porn mogul Joe Francis, the man behind Girls Gone Wild?
Which newspaper tycoon's son ordered daddy's trashy tabloid to axe negative stories about bad-boy actor Russell Crowe to help smooth relations after a property deal?
And which Manhattan newspaper editor and "devoted family man" regularly gets treated by the bosses of the Big Apple's hottest strip club to on-the-house lapdances - and maybe more? For the answers, keep reading.
These sorts of teases are the reason why celebrities, business and political titans, and panicky PR execs turn first thing every morning to Page Six, Manhattan's must-read gossip column, nestled in the pages of Rupert Murdoch's ballsy tabloid, the New York Post. This is where you turn to find out who is doing X to Y, or whether a Z-lister is doing drugs again. And this is where you look for clues on which venues are hot with the A-listers right now, whether Bungalow 8 is out, whether The Box in.
The column can make a brand, break a marriage. Its devilish power is such that Britney Spears once wore a T-shirt with the legend "Page Six Six Six".
The idea for Page Six was dreamt up by the Murdoch and his team when he took over the paper in 1976, a way of driving the paper down market, but increasing the sales figures. It was its equivalent of breasts on Page 3 of The Sun. And after years of plugging the careers of its friends and eviscerated its enemies, it has made its editor and scandalmonger-in-chief, Richard Johnson, one of the most feared journalists in New York.
Then, one day this month, like manna from heaven, all three of the scoops above - and others to boot - arrived on Johnson's desk. The tip-offs stood up, the presses rolled and names were named. The following day's edition of Page Six was one of the most talked about ever, and its sensational revelations are still reverberating round Manhattan's media world.
Only here's the irony. The answers, respectively, are: Richard Johnson, editor of Page Six; Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert; and Col Allan, editor of the New York Post. And in the worst of the revelations, Page Six also admitted Mr Johnson had taken $1,000 in a brown envelope from a restaurateur in return for giving his new establishment a favourable mention in the column. Even given the complex morals of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" gossip journalism, that is over the line. Mr Johnson has been "reprimanded", Mr Allan said.
To understand why they splashed themselves all over the most famous gossip page in America, we must go back not just to the start of a scandal that has gripped the Manhattan media clique for a year, but further.
There are three decades' worth of Page Six victims who are hooting with laughter. The column has never spared those victims, whether they be on the celebrity circuit, in the boardroom or in the corridors of power, and it has done so in a larky, sarky tone of voice that has seemed to puts it on the side of its knowing, urban readers against the pomposity of those it needles and against their lying publicists. From the very first edition in January 1977, when a TV star called Paul Lynde was reported getting into an argument at an "all-male" bar called Cowboy, it has winked and nudged against the boundaries of libel, and fed delightedly on the slow-motion decay of many a celebrity marriage.
It was the first to hint at the affair that brought down property tycoon Donald Trump's marriage to Ivana - printing a picture of the other woman, Marla Marples, and inviting readers to guess who she was sleeping with. Woody Allen's affair with his girlfriend Mia Farrow's adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn had its roots on Page Six after a couple of tip-offs …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: How the Big Apple Biters Were Bitten ; for Years, the Big Names of the 'New York Post' Made the Lives of Their Victims a Misery. Now They Know What It Feels Like. Contributors: Foley, Stephen - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent on Sunday (London, England). Publication date: May 27, 2007. Page number: Not available. © 2009 The Independent on Sunday. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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