. . . Friday May 14, 2004

Playing Ball with Graydon Carter

Vanity Fair editor and elbow-rubber to the stars Graydon Carter has been taking some heat lately for getting cash (personally) from Hollywood bigwigs. The latest story is that Carter received a $100,000 finders fee for mentioning that the book A Beautiful Mind would make a good movie.

I can see why the other folks at Vanity Fair would be irked by these stories. Carter would not be receiving special treatment and cash prizes if it weren’t for the marketing muscle of his mag. If there is going to be any payola, it should go to the magazine, not the individual.

But as a reader, I don’t care. Hollywood stories, like sports, are not really news. It’s all marketing. The coverage of movies. The detailed examinations of the personal lives of stars. Relationship stories. It’s all about selling product and we all know that. People read the celebrity sections of big time pubs (and the sports pages of major papers) to avoid real news, not to get it.

We expect Hollywood to pay for coverage in the pages of these rags. Anyone want to drop a few nickels on me? Your movie (and your love life) will be stretched across this blog as far as the eye can see – as long as it’s entertaining and the checks don’t bounce.

The issue here is whether or not Carter cheated his co-workers and his magazine. Not whether or not he cheated his readers. That just makes another interesting story to take our minds off real news.

Concentration is important!