Love it or hate it, tabloid journalism has had an undeniable impact on culture. The new documentary Gossip looks at some of the field’s most notorious, from Cindy Adams to Maury Povich to Rupert Murdoch to Perez Hilton.
It’s easy to forget that many of the biggest stories in recent years started out as tabloid coverage. The film also looks at how Donald Trump manipulated America’s gossip industry to create a name for himself.
The Chicago Tribune noted that the four-part series is pretty heavily slanted toward recent gossip history:
But Hollywood gossip, as a business, has existed as long as Hollywood itself. It’s a specific form of mutual manipulation, between the gossip writer and whoever is passing along the illicit information, be it a press agent, rival or crank. The ways in which Harvey Weinstein used favor-trading to his advantage are laid out in clear terms; he gave book deals to gossip columnists Paula Froelich (“which some people made a big do about,” she says) and A.J. Benza, who is open if unreflective about his conflicts of interest: “He gave me a hundred grand for a book. Then he optioned the book for a movie. Then he sat down with Johnny Depp to play me. Very heady stuff went on. So Harvey to me was a wonderful guy.”
And despite the glamorized revisionism about gossip columnists from Hollywood’s golden age, reviewer Nina Metz touches on the racism and sexism rampant in 20th century tabloid journalism, which does not get a lot of coverage in the series.
This tour of the sausage factory premieres on Showtime on August 22.
Image: YouTube / Showtime