I subscribe to the New York Times. Jim and I both read it. There is not much in common it has with the the National Enquirer. Or there didn't used to be until very recently. I've just discovered that I can stop buying the Enquirer at Walmart and just read the Times instead online. Who would have thought the Times could have gotten into the tabloid business? Read on!
The Times entered the fray by helping to revive the domestic scandal between Woody Allen (70s) and Mia Farrow (late 60s). It printed a letter from their allegedly abused adopted daughter, Dylan. We readers are able to comment upon it, after the article, and boy, are we ever! Those comments have come in by the thousands and they aren't from young people. (I was irked my comment was buried so far in due to this innundation.) The letter was posted by Mia's friend, reporter Nicholas Kristoph, with whom she travels to Africa (read into that what you will about their relationship).
Her son with Allen, Ronan, also travels to Africa with her but, oh by the way, it turns out he might be Frank Sinatra's son as she told Vanity Fair magazine two or so months ago. This is because she and Frank never, ahem, parted.
I mean can this get much juicier for the senior set? It is hard for me to think of a similar senior scandal going on when my parents were seniors, or my grandparents. They had to make do with the gossip about much younger people and they found it all in the Enquirer or the Star. They didn't have a prayer of finding this type of thing in the newspapers they read.
The Enquirer has been using a lot of ink upon Michael and Catherine as its major senior scandal over the last five months. This too has major import for us because Michael Douglas is 69 and this is his second marriage and to a much younger woman Catherine Zeta-Jones (44). We are after all the seniors who really put the zing in second marriages and May-December weddings. Sure, other generations had done it but none in the sheer numbers that we did. So Catherine and Michael were major gossip fodder for us. Catch this for the reason for their six month separation: he told reporters that he got cancer from having oral sex (letting them assume he got it from Catherine, which was not the case).
Ask a younger person who any of these people are and you will quickly discover how much more relevant Woody and Mia and Catherine and Michael are to us and just about nobody else.
John Edwards may have opened the door to this senior scandal fascination. He was in his mid 50s and in the presidential primaries when his story about an affair and then child with his "videographer" broke. The Enquirer got the story but no one had believed the Enquirer at first. The legitimate press went crazy for it when it was shown that the Enquirer had been right about him. Edwards also had a dying, famous wife (Elizabeth, who has since died). He had three other children who did not take well to having a new infant sister.
Then there's Wendi Deng who married Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire media empire builder, who was ultimately divorced by him because she got the hots for his good buddy Tony Blair. Tony and Wendi started meeting at Rupert's California ranch in secret but the staff ratted her out to Rupert. From left, Rupert, 82, Wendi, 45, Tony, 60. Rupert and Tony are no longer friends. Vanity Fair has all the good dirt here. Wendi even left a note in the open about Tony:
I am not complaining. These stories brought brightness to my grandparents' senior years as well as my parents'. They interrupt days filled with medical tests, endless waiting room stops and bad news from doctors. These scandals are the coin of the realm in nursing homes. All of our relatives on their last legs in nursing homes are virtually covered with paper from these scandal sheets. The newest wrinkles are that some of the scandal subjects are old themselves and that some of the newspapers are not even scandal sheets.
My guess is that we are just too big a demographic in vast need of entertainment for any media outlet to ignore. Hence tabloid scandals are not only bigger than ever but readers are hanging on breathlessly to hear about their aged celebrity peers.
Folks, I've gotta go now because I read something this morning about Bill Clinton and Liz Hurley that I need to check out....