However, the book is best when Coyne mixes the media inside details with bizarre anecdotes about celebrities. There is no better example than her chapter on Tom Cruise, who is one of the most mystifying stars to cover as a journalist, from his erratic behavior to the fact that talk shows are apparently banned from asking him about Scientology.
Coyne, a former entertainment editor for Good Housekeeping, writes how she interviewed Cruise for a cover story during his press tour for "Mission Impossible: III" in 2006. She wasn't sure what to expect, especially because it was less than a year after he argued with Matt Lauer on the "Today" show, criticized Brooke Shields for using anti-depressants and, of course, jumped on Oprah's couch declaring his love for Katie Holmes.
She didn't need to worry — Cruise was gracious and friendly, and the interview went smoothly. The weird part? Just how much Cruise's team monitored his press coverage, even for a celebrity-friendly publication like Good Housekeeping. While Coyne was waiting for Cruise to show up, she spotted a tape recorder on a table of the room, which seemed odd. Then, as soon as Cruise entered the room, his publicist quietly walked behind him and turned on the tape recorder, and then walked out again.
To clarify: This is not generally a thing that happens. "To this day, he is the only celebrity to have recorded an interview that I was recording," Coyne writes. "When I think about how much sense it makes for a celebrity, particularly one known for having to handle controversy, to have proof of what they said, I'm surprised more subjects don't do this."
There were other strange details about the Cruise interview: At one point, Holmes walked into the room and the couple greeted each other by saying "I love you" and looking dreamily into each other's eyes. Later, Coyne writes, Cruise started dancing wildly to Kanye West's recording of the "Mission: Impossible" theme song. But the tape recorder detail is the most telling: It's an example of how Cruise has handled image control over the years. (A Cruise rep did not return a request for comment.)
Meanwhile, throughout the rest of the book, Coyne spills stories that answer some other pop culture questions, including:
- Why did Kate Gosselin become such a tabloid force? Basically, People and Us Weekly put her on the covers and sales went through the roof, which helped illustrate the appetite for the drama surrounding the TLC reality show family and fueled their fame further.
- How do celebrities really feel about the Page Six gossip column? Unsurprisingly, some really hate it! Coyne writes that when she started her career at Page Six, Michael Douglas almost made her cry at a party when he told her, “Quit that job before your soul turns black.” Later, a fellow colleague admitted Douglas said the same thing to her.
- Is Tom Hanks really as awesome as he seems on the Internet? Yeah, pretty much. He took it upon himself to make Coyne feel better after she had an embarrassing incident at an Emmy Awards party in front of Neil Patrick Harris.
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