Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tabloid Television

The tabloids have hit the TV screen in recent months, as well as media news, with the recent shows Tabloid Wars and Dirt getting no little attention. And with the broadcast of I'm from Rolling Stone, TV portrayals of magazine work have progressed a ways from the days of Just Shoot Me.

But tabloid magazine-inspired TV is nothing new. Just turn to the 1985 TV movie Scandal Sheet, which starred Burt Lancaster and Robert Urich. Available on DVD as a standalone feature as well as a double with Lancaster's 1951 feature Vengeance Valley (an awkward pairing if there ever was one), the telemovie might make an intriguing parallel watch.

Having not seen the aforementioned TV shows, I can only comment on the movie, which I'm watching this evening. It's not very good. Urich plays a movie star and recovering alcoholic. Lancaster plays a scrupulous tabloid newspaper editor who wants to print the scoop on Urich's characters drinking. And Pamela Reed plays a freelance writer who's friends with Urich's character -- and who is hired by Lancaster to write for his trashy rag... all in order to get her to write the story.

The movie's portrayal of journalists is cartoony and unflattering, albeit not altogether unrealistic. Lancaster is cold, cold. And the pitch meeting scenes are a riot. But in the end, the movie is less about journalism and more about friendship, as the writer grapples with the choice between an economically stable life for her son and professional respect and friendship.

I haven't finished the movie yet, but from what I've read, it doesn't end well. Any other good examples of tabloid portrayals in film and television?

1 comment:

Matthew Saunders said...

There's Hush Hush, the tabloid at the center of the movie LA Confidentialbr/>>.