The Dangers of Not Reading the News

“Don’t read the news.”

That’s the advice that old-hat celebrities give to the fresh-faced newcomers they’ve taken under their wings. I can see why. You read the news, you find out about that awful picture they snapped of you in your sweats after that horrible haircut, and you get upset. Then you moan to your normal friends about how much it sucks to be famous, at which point they attempt to strangle you, because even with working 14 hour days they still can’t manage to buy their whiny kids the designer shoes they want, and you just bought a Pacific island. So it’s better to just ignore the news completely, right?

Sure, if you want to have things like free time and sanity. Except sometimes it can backfire on you. If you don’t read the news, you don’t find out what people are writing about you, and if you don’t know what they’re writing about you, you can’t call them on it when it’s a lie, and the writers can easily slip untruths into the minds of the unsuspecting public, who, let’s face it, eat this s*** up.

Case in point: this situation, which actually blew up in 2000 but is back in the news because a movie is being made about it (of course). It goes like this: a Swiss journalist made up interviews with major celebrities and sold them to major magazines. AND NOBODY NOTICED. Not the editors. Not the readers. Not the celebrities. Not their publicists. This guy had been working in Hollywood since 1993, selling stories to big name European magazines, and it took them SEVEN YEARS to figure out what he was doing.

Granted, he probably got away with it because nobody in Hollywood has ever bothered to read a magazine in another language (What? Europe? Is that a planet?) But seven YEARS? In all that time nobody’s publicist’s assistant’s secretary even glanced at the COVERS of any of these magazines and thought: “Hmm. That’s funny. I don’t remember arranging that interview.”

It’s not like he was taking advantage of low level celebrities, either. Those guys would probably have let it slide because they still bought into the “any publicity is good publicity” tenet. No, he was making up interviews with rich, famous, big-name stars like Brad Pitt and Pamela Anderson.

There’s a lesson in all of this. It’s that you can make seven years’ worth of top freelance wages for lying, and then a bunch more money by writing a book about lying. I could use some more money. So here goes:

MY TOTALLY NON-MADE UP CELEBRITY INTERVIEW:

ME: Hey Brad Pitt! Got time for a few questions?
BRAD PITT: No. Get lost.
ME: Okay then.

Damn. Even in a fantasy land I suck at interviews!

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