It’s only a matter of time before the papers start yapping about a “Batman curse.” First we had Heath Ledger’s death in January and now we have the bizarre news of the arrest of Batman himself, Christian Bale. The actor was detained and questioned for four hours yesterday in London for allegedly assaulting his mother and sister. The Post goes with the puntastic “BAD MAN” banner hed, while the Daily News notes there’s “Trouble in Bale’s Bat Cave.” The best front page, however, goes to subway freebie am New York, with its “BATMESS” logo that rips off the schlocky 1960s TV series insignia.
But why not take it to the next level? His last name is Bale! Only the Metro went with an “Out on Bale” pun. On top of that, the other big movie that Bale is known for is American Psycho. Our tabloid overlords are holding out on us! (To be fair, Bale was born in Wales, which may make the American Psycho angle a little problematic, especially since the alleged assault occurred in London.)
Details around the arrest are sketchy, but what the papers have pieced together is that Jenny Bale, 61, was allegedly pushed when Bale, 34, his mother and sister Sharon, 40, came back to the actor’s suite in the Dorchester Hotel after Sunday’s London premiere of The Dark Knight. The Bale women left the hotel hours after the incident and returned home to Dorset, despite Christian booking them rooms at the Dorchester for the premiere. Reached for comment at home, Sharon Bale told reporters that “there was an incident, but the police are dealing with it. It is an extremely sensitive situation and I don’t know how the press got hold of it.”
The Post has an advantage in its coverage, since it can grab content from its sister paper, The Times of London. The paper dedicates almost two full pages to the arrest, which includes a piece on the “Inner turmoil for son of a circus clown.” (Yes, Bale’s mother was a circus clown! More fun trivia: his late father was married to Gloria Steinem.) The “inner turmoil” is that Bale described himself as a “jerk” in an interview once and that when he was a teenager (he made his film debut in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun at the age of 13), he was mocked for being an actor by his fellow students. The News suffices with a sidebar on Bale’s background.
Part of the appeal of this story — beyond the lurid family drama — is that it seems so random. Bale is not an actor to court the press, and he tries to remain out of the spotlight, despite starring in this massive blockbuster film. (Next year he’ll appear in another giant action franchise: the new Terminator film.) He tries to be a common, working actor. Also, The Dark Knight‘s massive success is pretty much the big entertainment story right now — there was no way this was getting swept under the rug. We’ll have to see what develops, but chances are both sides are going to stay tight-lipped until September, when Bale has to return to police pending the results of the investigation. That, of course, won’t prevent rampant speculation on this whole “BATMESS.”