The Fix

Not enough evidence in Page Six scandal? Aniston gets a happy ending, while Michael Douglas makes up to Brad Pitt. Plus: Paltrow welcomes baby Moses.

By Salon Staff
April 11, 2006 5:30PM (UTC)
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Morning Briefing:
The Page Six plot thickens: While beleaguered ex-Page Six scribe Jared Paul Stern went on the offensive over the weekend -- claiming he'd been set up and that Ron Burkle had actually arranged their meeting -- the fact that he's still a free man raises the question of why he hasn't been arrested yet. A senior law official tells ABC that the FBI was ready to arrest Stern after one of the meetings, "but there was not enough evidence to bring the reporter in on charges, and now the case is in the preliminary stages of an FBI investigation to determine whether there ever will be enough to bring to a federal grand jury and win an indictment." Women's Wear Daily, meanwhile, recycles an old Michael Kinsley quote in an effort to make the point that whether or not Stern broke the law, the story is news for showing what's allowable for gossip columnists: "The scandal is not what's illegal. The scandal is what's legal." (ABC News, Forbes, Women's Wear Daily)

The media scandal within the scandal: While many of the various murky questions of the Page Six scandal remain unanswered, there's another angle to the story -- the news coverage itself. On one hand, Eric Boehlert writes, Rupert Murdoch's Fox has chosen to all but ignore the brewing scandal at the Murdoch-owned Post: "What makes Fox News' contorted silence all the more comical is that in recent years the channel has set itself up as something of a media watchdog, dedicating an overabundance of time and energy to covering journalism missteps ... as long as the missteps didn't come from within the Murdoch family." At the same time, Richard Kim in the Nation complains that the New York Times spent a bit too much time covering the scandal, writing that "the Times went VH1 over allegations that New York Post 'Page Six' contributor Jared Paul Stern attempted to extort California billionaire Ronald Burkle. Over 48 hours, the Times relentlessly deluged readers with multimedia graphics, photos, charts, sexed up backstory and snarky quotes from irrelevant pundits." Kim also compares the Times' coverage of Stern with its coverage of the other big news story from last Friday, the Scooter Libby revelations about Bush:

Articles about Scooter Libby: 2 (plus one Op-Ed by Maureen Dowd)
Articles about Jared Paul Stern: 5
Number of reporters contributing to Libby coverage: 4
Number of reporters contributing to Stern coverage: 9
Total word count for Libby articles: 2,872
Total word count for Stern articles: 5,468

(Huffington Post, N.Y. Times)

America wants Jen to have her happy ending: Spoiler alert: America's collective guilt over the end of Jennifer Aniston's marriage is now playing out in theaters, forcing filmmakers to change the ending of "The Break Up," her forthcoming film with rumored sweetie Vince Vaughn. "The original screenplay had Jennifer and Vince's characters breaking up at the end," a source tells Page Six. "So it was shot that way -- but test audiences hated it. It tested really -- and I mean really -- badly." The new ending, recently reshot in Chicago, has them making up in the end. (Page Six)

Douglas denies doubting Brad: Michael Douglas wants the world to know he never questioned Brad Pitt's choice in women. A few weeks ago, this quote, taken from a GQ article on Douglas, made the rounds online: "I don't know about Brad Pitt leaving that beautiful woman [Jennifer Aniston] to go hold orphans for Angelina [Jolie]. I mean how long is that going to last?" Now Douglas is claiming he said no such thing. "It was a lengthy article," he tells Extra. "[It] must've been 20 hours of tape recording, so I asked to hear the tape recording and the reporter said, 'Well, I turned the tape recorder off.' And I said, 'Well, you had it on for the whole time, so I didn't say it.'" Meanwhile, GQ's executive editor, Andy Ward, stands by his reporter: "We stand behind [the quotes] 100 percent. For him to suggest we made them up is laughable." (Us Online)


It's official: Gwyneth Paltrow and rock star hubby Chris Martin have a new baby, Moses, who was born over the weekend in New York. (E! Online) ... With Katie Couric leaving, Matt Lauer has signed a new contract with NBC's "Today" show: He'll stay until 2011 and get $13 million a year for his hard work. (N.Y. Times) ... Jennifer Lopez filed suit against her ex-husband, Ojani Noa, on Monday, claiming he demanded she pay him $5 million or he'd publish a tell-all book about their relationship. (TMZ) ... Tomorrow at Madame Tussaud's in New York's Times Square, Lindsay Lohan will become the youngest star the museum has ever turned into wax. (Rush & Molloy) ... With "Malcolm in the Middle" coming to an end, its star, Frankie Muniz, has confirmed he's switching careers: He'll debut as a professional car racer in the Formula BMW USA series just days after "Malcolm" finishes in May. (Yahoo! News) ... Keith Urban won best video of the year at the Country Music Television awards on Monday night, while former "American Idol" Carrie Underwood took home double honors for her video "Jesus, Take the Wheel," winning both the breakthrough video and female video awards. (Associated Press)

Money Quote:
Jeff Foxworthy, host of the CMT awards show, on what makes it different from other awards bashes: "This is the only awards show where you hear celebrities say, 'Hey, if y'all ain't gonna do anything with that red carpet, can I have it for my van?'" (ContactMusic)

-- Scott Lamb


Turn On:
Tonight, the History Channel's "10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America" continues, with Elvis rocking "Ed Sullivan" on "When America Was Rocked" (9 p.m. EDT) followed by "Gold Rush" (10 p.m. EDT). Elsewhere, on the other end of the television spectrum, VH1's "Love Monkey" (7 p.m. EDT) returns from its hiatus.

-- Joe DiMento


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