The Son Also Rises

Above all, think Hollywood, celebrity, and media. Publicity events are likely sources for stories, as is litigation, or any conflict that can be framed as a Celebrity Death Match. No story is too speculative, no rumor too premature. But plotted or not, all stories must drop the names of numerous celebrities, media outlets, and upscale products. (There are no quotas; trust the editors to know when enough is enough.)

Once the necessary marketing stimuli are in place, writers should let go and imitate the ingenuous tone of an old-time Talk story. Use metaphors. Tell readers something profound. And don't forget to mention Senator Clinton whenever possible (current target goal: a Hillary story in every other issue). Data from the Press Clips study follow.

Subject: Brandi Chastain, the U.S. women's soccer star who took her shirt off after a recent victory (7/26/99). Product placement: Nike. Media mentioned: Gear, Sports Illustrated. Flattering comparison: Chastain and Victory, the Greek goddess. Category: Celebrity women who get publicity by disrobing.

Subject: A group of New York professionals who get together to eat organ meat (7/26). Product placement: Frito-Lay, Café Loup. Media mentioned: Word, The Village Voice, Time. Flattering comparison: Word editor Marisa Bowe calls herself a vampire. Categories: Scary New York women, media eating habits.

Subject: Batman director Joel Schumacher hires lawyer to stop small-town newspaper from reporting the location of his new barn/house (7/26). Media mentioned: Carpinteria, California Coastal View News, Farmer's Almanac. Category: Celebrity litigation.

Subject: Marc Shaiman, who helped create the soundtrack for the South Park movie (7/19). Product placement: South Park. Sample quote: "I think one of [South Park co-creator Trey Parker's] biggest thrills was the day he and Matt came and heard a ninety-five-piece orchestra playing 'Uncle Fucka.' " Category: Hollywood puff piece.

Subject: Hugh Hefner redux (7/12). Media company mentioned: Playboy Enterprises. Celebrities mentioned: Brande, Mandy, and Sandy. Sample quote: "Where else would the editor of a magazine earn more than the company C.E.O.?" Category: Celebrity coasters.

Subject: The rumor that Hillary may run for president some day (7/12). Celebrities mentioned: Mario Cuomo, Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Media mentioned: NBC's Tim Russert, The New Yorker's Connie Bruck. Sample sentence: "The new rumor clearly derives its force from the old rumor, which, improbably enough, has turned out to be true." Categories: Political rumors, Hillary Clinton.

Subject: Georgette Mosbacher, three-time wife turned fundraiser for John McCain's presidential campaign (7/5). Product placement: The Four Seasons. Celebrities mentioned: Michael Bloomberg, Pete Peterson, Ron Perelman. Favorable comparison: Mosbacher and Melanie Griffith in Working Girl. Category: Scary Republican women.

Subject: The New York Times's internal dispute over the correct spelling of the exclamation "D'oh!" (7/5). Product placement: The Simpsons. Media mentioned: The New York Times, The Hartford Courant. Favorable comparison: Times disputes over spelling and Times disputes over national security issues. Category: Any minutiae about The New York Times.

Subject: Gay men in New York throw a bridal shower for a woman they love (7/5). Product placement: Jack Daniel's, Pucci, Bergdorf Goodman. Media mentioned: CBS News, VH1. Favorable comparison: the engaged woman and Britt Ekland, Ann-Margret, Lina Wertmuller, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Lolita. Sample sentence: "She air-kissed violently." Category: stories that might have run in The New York Times SundayStyles section.

Subject: Bianca Jagger's advocacy of Kosovo intervention (6/7). Media mentioned: Tucker Carlson of The Weekly Standard (and of Crossfire, and of Talk magazine). Sample observation: Carlson was afraid to ask Jagger a prepared question on Crossfire, for fear she might know the answer. Cate- gory: Silly celebrity causes.

Subject: Anachronistic movie reference to a cell phone emitting a dial tone (5/31). Product placement: Never Been Kissed, starring Drew Barrymore. Telecommunications companies mentioned: AT&T, Bell Atlantic. Sample sentence: "What is the purpose of this sound, as common and plain as a dulled penny, which we encounter dozens of times a day?" Category: Tech stories with a Hollywood twist.

Subject: Party for new book on Audrey Hepburn (5/17). Product placement: Bergdorf Goodman, Prescriptives. Celebrities mentioned: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn. Sample sentence: "Whether Audrey Hepburn's sophisticated-schoolgirl look owes everything to Givenchy or is a reflection of her own taste, as well, is the stuff of bitchy speculation." Category: Plugs for New York stores we love.

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