MAGWATCH No more being mean
* THIS column's new year resolution was to be nicer to the mass-market weekly
magazines of Australia. We are ashamed of the meanness we exhibited last year
when we accused them of exaggerating, sensationalising, using deceptive
coverlines, inventing quotes from "friends" of the famous, making absurd
predictions about alleged relationships based on minimal evidence, repeating the
same stories in barely different words week after week, and sucking up to
pseudo-celebrities of minimal interest to the majority of Australians.
You have only to look at this week's editions of the Big Three gossip
weeklies to see how unfair this column used to be. New Idea brings us the news
that Jo Beth Taylor is pregnant to Thomas Muster, a former tennis player she
married four months ago. We must admit to having some difficulty recalling the
significance of Jo-Beth Taylor. Was she a spokesmodel on a game show, or an
actress in Neighbours? Our ignorance is our loss. As long as she's happy.
Woman's Day offers the coverline "Russell's breaking my heart", with a photo
of Meg Ryan. Back in our cynical days, we'd have thought this was a pretty
ancient story, and wondered if the quote was invented. But no - Woman's Day
quotes Meg Ryan's "close friend Ruth Lehman" as saying that Ryan used those very
words to her husband Dennis Quaid. How long ago that might have happened, we do
not need to know.
The wonderfully mischievous NW reveals this week that Liam Gallagher, of the
band Oasis, has six toes on one foot, offering a blurry photo as proof. That's
hot. But we have to wonder about the way in which NW addresses its readers in
captioning three photos of the actor Heath Ledger playing football. It says
this: "What we wouldn't give to be in a scrum with Heath"; "Mmm, we wouldn't
mind him wrestling us to the ground" and (with a photo of Ledger holding a
soccer ball against his groin) "What we wouldn't give to be that ball".
Who is the "editorial we" speaking for NW in this case? Six pages later, NW's
editor, Philip Barker, writes a personal note in which he mentions his "Wifey",
so we assume the "editorial we" who was fantasising about Heath Ledger's groin
could not be him.
No, no. In assuming that, this column is just being narrow-minded. After all,
NW's cover story, headlined "Girlfriends!" implies that a number of women
previously thought to be heterosexual are currently dabbling in lesbianism. It
reports that Helen Hunt was "hugging and kissing up a storm" with a friend named
Mandy Ingber, Portia de Rossi had an intimate lunch with a friend who "couldn't
keep her hands off Portia's lustrous hair", and Alec Baldwin may have split
with Kim Basinger because of "the time, money and attention she had been
lavishing on her new 'friend"' (a woman). Sympathetically exploring the issue of
bisexuality, NW shows it has a social conscience to match its news sense. --
DAVID DALE, SMH
Just shoot 'em
* NOEL Gallagher has just figured out why Oasis records haven't been selling
too well in the United States. Americans, clearly, are idiots. "Americans have
got very bad taste, hence the Backstreet Boys", said Gallagher at a news
conference in Venezuela, after his band closed the four-day Caracas Pop Festival
on the weekend. Borrowing a line from Joe the Cameraman, Gallagher added that
the Florida group (pictured above) "can't sing, can't play, can't dance," that
they sang blatant "rubbish" and that, through promoting soft drink, they ensured
kids had bad teeth. Basically, said Gallagher, "they ought to be shot".
Big time Yowie Man
* AFTER entertaining locals for years with his general strangeness, Tim the
Yowie Man has hit the big time. The Big Foot hunter and director of the
Australian Centre for Mystery Investigation has made an appearance on the
Entertainment Weekly website, having searched out the Survivor 2 location and
publishing maps of it at his own web address.
Some US sites "have been really ticked off that an Aussie dude has been
taking all their traffic", says Tim, who tells EW he trekked more than 18 hours,
"along a crocodile-inhabited riverbed", to find the northern Queensland site.
He made it all the way to the Tribal Council set, he says, before any
contestants had seen it, and received regular correspondence from a Survivor
insider, who provided daily call sheets, as well as one Richard Hatch. "I can't
be sure it was the real one, but he told me what a great job I was doing," said
the Yowie Man.
So, any scoops? "One challenge involving boomerangs took the contestants
three days to rehearse before they even filmed it," said Tim, now considering
becoming a career TV-and-movie-set crasher. "Which only proves how much of this
is a set-up."
Aaron's seat safe
* HEARTENING isn't it, to know that celebrities can't always get away with
everything. Shortly after Aaron Baddeley's friend was kicked out of the seat
beside him in Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night, as Carlos Moya and Lleyton
Hewitt went at it, a rather gruff, yellow-shirted attendant emerged, demanding
the young golfing superstar present proof he was entitled to be sitting where he
was. The back-to-back winner of golf's Australian Open (pictured) was, for the
record, only too pleased to flash his guest pass.
ANTARCTICA CALLING Belly dancing beats the boredom
DATELINE: The Antarctic, on board the Polar Bird. The 14th day the ship has
been stuck in polar ice. Yesterday, at 9.30am was the first Antarctic
belly-dancing, anti-boredom exercise session. Five women participated: the
entire female population of the Polar Bird ship. No male spectators allowed.
Due to white-out, minus 8 temperature, and icy decks where it's impossible to
even walk to the ship's hold for gym (even wearing boot chains over sneakers),
exercise is imperative. The bar was the only communal space available that was
not filled with Norwegian sub-titled action movies. When Julia suggested
exercising to music, I offered to share my belly-dancing skills learnt while
researching a book.
In keeping with our Antarctic wildlife surrounds, we improvised the penguin
wiggle, the albatross flap and the Minke whale wobble, followed by the hip
On a news-starved and rumor-prone ship, it only took minutes for our
belly-dancing activity to become public. The deputy voyage leader jokingly
reprimanded us that segregated activity was "sexist". So we agreed that if we
were ice-bound for THREE MONTHS, then we'd do a public demo.
Rikard, the Norwegian bosun, volunteered chiffon dancing veil material from
his "chest", a massive sea-container accessible only by struggling across a
murderously slippery deck to the hold stairway.
Inside were bags of clothing, mainly ex-T shirts with logos of long past
expeditioners. But there was no chiffon!
However, we now had sweat shirts. As we struggled up the snow-covered
gangway, sliding across the sleety deck, clutching recycled sailors' gear, I
wondered who else would venture out in Antarctica, to find impromptu
belly-dancing outfits in the hold of a Norwegian ship, stuck in polar ice?
"Exercise class, same time, same place for the next three months?" They nodded,
as I pulled off my fur-lined polar boots and ice-chains. At home, we belly dance
in bare feet. -- HAZEL EDWARDS
nafffact: People blink, on average, 25,000 times a day.
The country would be better off if you were president.
Matt Damon wishes Laura Bush all his best.
All the news that was
* AUSTRALIA'S oldest man has hit the headlines again, notching up another
year to hit 110 and nominating last year's Olympic torch run as his number one
highlight. "They wanted me to go all the way over the hill," said Jack Lockett
from Bendigo (pictured), who received celebratory telegrams from Steve Bracks,
wife Terry, and the governor, John Landy. "I think I did it well." Figures
released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today are expected to reveal
visitor arrivals last year almost reached the five million mark, play was
disrupted at the Australian Open when an orange flare was thrown on to court
one, and the Prostitutes Collective of Victoria has poured cold water on the
suggestion prostitutes were involved in the international cricket corruption
scandal. "There is no way that a madam would be giving out addresses or phone
numbers of their girls," said PCV general manager Karen Sait. "It just does not
* Has announced her engagement to director/actor guy Ed Burns.
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