The Fix

Headline writers cash in on Frey. Plus: Clay Aiken's "boyfriend" speaks and Joaquin Phoenix cheats death.

Published January 27, 2006 2:34PM (EST)

Morning Briefing:
Last Frey post, we hope: In case you missed disgraced memoirist James Frey's reappearance/public flogging on Thursday's "Oprah," you can watch snippets on Video Dog, or read Salon's own Hillary Frey's take on the show. In the meantime, headline writers across the country -- they can't resist! -- have unleashed their best puns on the Frey affair. A sampling of their wares:

Oprah Shreds Frey in a Million Pieces (Chicago Tribune)
Winfrey Throws Book at Frey (L.A. Times)
Humiliation -- but on the Last Page, Absolution (L.A. Times)
Live on "Oprah," a Memoirist Is Kicked Out of the Book Club (N.Y. Times)

JT LeRoy writing dialogue for Ian McShane? In other fake-writer news, JT LeRoy, despite being outed as a total fake, is apparently still under contract with HBO to write an episode of "Deadwood." On Thursday, an HBO spokesperson said, "HBO has given JT LeRoy a freelance, episodic script assignment on 'Deadwood.' The show is currently in production and there has been no decision as to when the script will be delivered or produced." (WWD)

Aiken's "discreet bf" talks to the Enquirer? John Paulus, a former Army Ranger, shows up in the pages of this week's National Enquirer with a story about a tryst he had with "American Idol" star Clay Aiken, but Rush & Molly at the New York Daily News only seemed ticked that he turned down selling their paper his story first. "They couldn't pay me enough to have my pics on the supermarket stand," Paulus told the gossip columnists last week. "I am not the type of guy that would make life difficult for anyone." Lo and behold, this week Paulus is in the Enquirer with a story about meeting Aiken online and then in person after the pop idol had said he was looking for a "discreet bf [boyfriend]." The Enquirer also maintains that Paulus passed a lie detector test about the details of the story. (Rush & Molloy)

Tim Russert no ethicist? Arianna Huffington, after getting fired up about Tim Russert using his presence as host of "Meet the Press" to promote his son's new XM Radio sports show earlier this week, lays into the NBC pundit's keynote appearance on an upcoming panel on ethics in the media. In her blog post, Huffington writes, "Inviting Tim Russert to keynote a conference on journalistic ethics is like having Jack Abramoff keynote a conference on lobbying reform, Jim Frey lecture on truth in advertising, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lead High Holy Days services at Temple Beth Israel." Meanwhile, the Lowdown reports that Huffington's recent salvos in Russert's direction have caused "the entire NBC News publicity machine" to go "ballistic" on Huffington, though the only evidence cited is a snippy e-mail from an NBC publicist. More to follow? (Lowdown, Huffington Post)

Joaquin Phoenix walked away from a brush with death on Thursday unscathed: After his car's brakes went out, Phoenix lost control and then flipped while he was driving in the hills above the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. (Us Weekly) ... Nicole Kidman is named goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and named Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (the country's highest civilian honor) on the same day. (E! Online) ... Tracy Morgan, former "Saturday Night Live" funnyman, pleaded not guilty to the DUI charge he picked up in L.A. on Dec. 2, but will be heading to court toward the end of next month. (TMZ) ... British rocker Pete Doherty has been arrested for drugs. Again. (NME) ... Rejoice, Steve Carell fans. "The Office" has been granted an additional season by NBC. (USA Today) ... Keep your eyes on Rocky's blog for the new movie and see action-packed shots of Sylvester Stallone like this one. (Rocky Balboa Blog via A Socialite's Life) ... And of course, a happy 250th birthday to Mozart. (BBC)

Money Quotes:
Aaron Brown on the shifting landscape of truth in modern media culture: "Truth no longer matters in the context of politics and, sadly, in the context of cable news." (Palm Beach Daily News via Drudge)

Bono on how his band mates are worried his political aspirations -- like ending third-world debt -- might take away from his dedication to the music: "I know spiritually they feel as strongly about these issues as I do. They just don't like the high profile and they don't like me hanging out with really uncool politicians." (Associated Press via Yahoo! News)

Turn on:
It's the final, spooky episode of "Masters of Horror" (Showtime, 10 p.m. EST), brought to you by director John McNaughton ("Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer"), and on Saturday, it's the 10th annual "Winter X Games" (ABC, 2 p.m. EST).

-- Scott Lamb

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