My old friend Judy Coode and I sometimes like to go to dopey starlet movies nobody else we know wants to see -- like "Sweet Home Alabama," "Wimbledon" and that lighthearted romance, "The Passion of the Christ." Judy keeps me informed on the world's many and varied social injustices, and yet she's not averse to a good whiff of the vapid celebrosphere.
A few weeks ago, she sent in a question: "Judging from Web sites over the past couple of days (CNN, MSN, to name two), is it true that people actually care that Tiffani Thiessen got married? Or that Angela Lansbury needs knee surgery? Seriously, is this big news?" [She couldn't resist adding: "And if that is so for some people, how very sad for them."]
This gets to the great crisis in the glut of celebrity journalism: You can't get Jude Law to fool around with his children's nanny every single day, and so you have to make do with the minor car accidents of minor TV stars, the quiet rehab hospitalizations of famous people you can't quite muster interest in, or the very expected deaths of 89-year-old bit players you've long forgotten or never heard of. Or, yes, Lansbury's knees.
There was a time when newspapers and television only reported celebrity news when there was some. Now the cart is way before the horse -- a "Personalities" column here, a "Names and Faces" there, a rolling entertainment update on every Web portal and breathless Hollywood news on the half-hour. Since I'm obviously feeling nostalgic (and admittedly filling my own celebrity news hole on this slow week) . . .
I remember a childhood summer in the early '80s when I watched the recently hatched "Entertainment Tonight" every single early evening, still wet from the pool, waiting for dinnertime. Toward August, I realized that "ET" had run out of showbiz news, but that didn't mean that Mary Hart was necessarily going away. And she never did.