Everyone loves a good bit of gossip, and none more so than those of us who work in the industry. Welcome to Unreliable Sources, where you'll find the juiciest scandals, most shocking stories, and buzzy bits of info currently circulating in the halls of power throughout American culture. If you don't have anything nice to say, come sit by me...
Page Six Vs. The People
There’s a secret behind-the-scenes battle raging between two of gossip’s big heavyweights: New York Post’s Page Six and People.
Page Six, helmed by Emily Smith, has taken particular grievance with the Dan Wakeford-led People magazine over the past few months.
It seems these two Brits are at each other’s throats, Unreliable Sources has learned. It starts here…
Part One: Kanye West and Irina Shayk
On July 13, Page Six reported the fauxmance between Kanye West and Irina Shayk had fizzled fast and lasted just “FourFiveSeconds.”
“She likes him as a friend, but doesn’t want a relationship with him,” said their source.
At the same time, People scoffed at the Page Six reporting.
Three days later, People boldly declared: Kanye West and Irina Shayk Are 'Very Much Still Dating' — and Model Is 'Upset' at Split Rumors.
Fast forward more than a month-and-a-half to August 30 and People had done a complete pirouette.
Who was there to notice? Page Six, of course.
It highlighted how the People source had reversed course: “It was never a serious thing that took off.”
Shayk meanwhile, just brushed the whole relationship off when asked about Kanye by Highsnobiety: “Tomorrow there is going to be a rumor that I’m dating my doorman, okay? Then after tomorrow, it’s going to be someone else. Look, there’s always something there, and I’m just keeping it to myself.”
Gotcha. Scorecard: 1-0.
Part Two: John Mulaney and Olivia Munn’s Romance Timeline
Page Six called bullshit on People for swallowing a publicist’s word as gospel after John Mulaney announced that he’s expecting a baby with Olivia Munn.
Smith and her team were first to report (way-back-when) that Mulaney, 39, spent several months in rehab in 2020, leaving his “most recent” two-month stay in February.
At the same, he asked his wife of nearly seven years, Anna Marie Tendler, for a divorce.
But over at People, the timeline made for a real modern-day love story.
It wasn’t until after Mulaney had asked for a divorce that he met Munn, at of all places, church!
When Mulaney went on Seth Meyers last week and declared — “I went to rehab in September, I got out in October, I moved out of my home from my ex-wife… when in the spring I went to Los Angeles and met and started to date a wonderful woman named Olivia” — the claws came out at Page Six.
Looking for blood, Smith & Co. shrieked with a headline: “Not Everyone is Buying John Mulaney’s Olivia Munn Romance Timeline!”
“This timeline appears to be tenuous,” reported Smith and Sara Nathan, herself another British-born newshound.
The Page Six pair quoted a “celebrity agent” source who had supposedly worked with Munn.
They said, “I don’t think it’s any coincidence that John broke the news of Olivia’s pregnancy the way he did in terms of basically giving a timeline of his past few months — when he moved out of his house, how it was the spring when he fell in love with Olivia.
“It seems to me that he is going to great lengths to dispute the idea that he cheated.”
Page Six went on to quote an insider who had something very pointed to declare about People and its report the lovebirds first met under the watchful eye of God.
“That was BS!"
Gotcha. Scorecard: 2-0.
People Person Not Making Friends
People — one of the most bloated and overstaffed newsroom in the biz — has room for only one ego.
Unreliable Sources has heard there is a serious clash between Wakeford and Rob Silverstein, the former Access Hollywood Executive Producer and creator of Access Live, who was tapped to run the People television spin-off in 2020.
So who has editorial control?
Silverstein, if you ask people in his camp. Wakeford, if you ask people in his camp. Both, if you ask Meredith, the publisher.
“It’s a colossal clash of egos,” said our spies.
“Rob is a newsman and hasn’t always meshed with people. Here he has a television show that is a spin-off of a magazine with a whole separate staff. It’s like asking the Democrats and Republicans to work together! It will never happen.”
Now that she has been moved to ABC News, Tamron Hall has some spring in her step… and high hopes that the move will save her eponymous show from the scrapheap.
When Tamron Hall was green-lit in 2019, she was given a three-season deal. With two down, it’s now do-or-die for the one-time TODAY show television talker.
Either the ratings go up—and soon—or she’ll be without a job, Unreliable Sources has been told.
ABC News believes it has the secret sauce to deliver ratings—news—while Hall’s production team believes the key to daytime domination is big name and bold guests.
“ABC has way too many news shows saying the same thing all morning, day, and evening,” said one TV tattler.
“The point of difference between her show and news department driven shows was that Tamron was energizing, funny, and informative with her guests.” (In fairness, the show did win an Emmy for Informative Talk Show Host in 2020.)
This means Hall splashed the cash before re-starting for season three to ensure her show secures the household names over her rivals as guests.
We’re told salaries of six figures were being thrown behind-the-scenes to booking producers in a last-ditch attempt to save the show from an early grave.
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Live Or Let Drew
In television, the booking wars are just as interesting as the shows themselves—because everyone wants the same guest … and they want them exclusively.
It’s a tiny peek into who likes who, as well.
I.e., a Hollywood star might choose to appear on Show A over Show B because they can’t stand Show A’s host.
The Live with Kelly and Ryan team has been ordered that anyone that does The Drew Barrymore Show is banned from their studios.
Is there a deep-running feud between one of The Live hosts and Drew?
A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss
It was with big fanfare that it was recently announced that Noah Shachtman, former Editor-in-Chief of Barry Diller’s dying digital news wasteland The Daily Beast, was to lead the pop music title.
“It’s got to be faster, louder, harder,” said Shachtman, when hired. “We’ve got to be out getting scoops.”
One recent “scoop” Shachtman did not miss was a local story out of Oklahoma about a doctor who claimed ivermectin cases were filling Oklahoma hospitals.
According to Rolling Stone, Dr. Jason McElyea said overdoses were causing backlogs in rural hospitals, leaving both beds and ambulance services scarce.
It seems Shachtman and others picked up this local news report and in a quick attempt to deliver clickbait, failed to fact check the report.
When it all turned out to be a hoax, Schactman added a note to their “scoop” that read:
“One hospital has denied Dr. Jason McElyea’s claim that ivermectin overdoses are causing emergency room backlogs and delays in medical care in rural Oklahoma, and Rolling Stone has been unable to independently verify any such cases as of the time of this update.”
Six years on, it seems, the lessons from the publication – and ultimate retraction – of a Rolling Stone story about an alleged gang-rape at the University of Virginia hasn’t sunk home... even if there is a new man at the helm.
Catch & Kill: The Untold Secret Of A Top Editor
2021 has been a watershed moment for moves in media.
At one major international outlet, one newly minted newsroom appointee is hoping their own untold story of “catch and kill”—how they nixed an exposé after ceding to an effort to discredit and suppress a story because of corporate pressure—remains a tightly guarded secret from their troops.
[Insert guess here.]
Dead Men Tell No Tales
When BuzzFeed reporter Krystie Lee Yandoli published her investigation into gossip behemoth TMZ, titled TMZ’s Newsroom Is A Hotbed For Racism, Misogyny, And Verbal Abuse, Ex-Employees Say, much of the blame for "inappropriate behavior" was attributed to an unnamed executive.
Two weeks later, The Hollywood Mis-Reporter followed up with its own investigation, titled Daytime TV's Dark Side: Former 'TMZ on TV,' 'Ellen' and 'Rosie' Employees Detail Abusive Work Culture.
The focus was laser sharp on the one-man who is no longer around to defend himself—because he is dead.
Jim Paratore died in 2012, seven years after he created the tabloid news site under the Telepictures Productions umbrella.
"He was a hothead from New Orleans," recalled one unnamed staffer who described Paratore as a "bully." They said he "set the tone for everyone else, barking and calling people ‘fucking idiots’ without regard for the humiliation or embarrassment of it happening in front of your peers."
We couldn't help but think back to one of Unreliable Source’s favorite programs, HBO's Succession, and the plot-line of the season two finale.
There, media magnates “The Roys” spend a vacation on their extravagant yacht in the Mediterranean to debate over who should be the company's public scapegoat for a scandal in its cruise ship division.
Logan, the family patriarch, ultimately chose his son, Kendall.
Paratore, we're told, viewed Levin like a son, too.
But surely Levin didn't turn on his father-like mentor in Jim’s life after death and instruct his public relations machine to throw Paratore under the proverbial bus?
Who’s Next For Their Close-Up?
It’s a game of whack-a-mole.
These days lazy news editors pick a rival and speak with "at least" twenty-something "whistleblowers" to expose the inevitable: yes, [insert name here] is running or working in a toxic workplace.
The Hollywood Mis-Reporter went after NBC Universal, winning the scalp of Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy, who was pushed out pending an investigation into claims of harassment.
Emojis were in overdrive when BuzzFeed took aim at Ellen DeGeneres, and later, the aforementioned Harvey Levin's TMZ.
Pinterest — is that still a thing? — got the Business Insider treatment, too.
It got us guessing who will be next to get the media mallet whacked at his or her metaphorical mole?
Whispers on the streets of Gotham suggest a certain late-night talk show is in line for a hit piece.
British investigative journalist John Sweeney is perhaps best known for shouting at Scientology representative Tommy Davis in Scientology and Me for the BBC's Panorama program.
Working at the BBC comes with all the bells and whistles of rules and regulations as it pertains to paying sources.
Now that he has left the BBC, Sweeney has found himself in the dark world of tabloid-esque journalism — having decided to take on the topic of Ghislaine Maxwell, the alleged madam to the late Jeffrey Epstein.
This is the type of story where cash is considered king in persuading people to provide intel.
But Sweeney didn’t want to compromise his BBC-like principles in the production of a podcast, so he developed his own form of “checkbook journalism” to lure people to work with him on Hunting Ghislaine.
In lieu of payment for participation, guests bemoaned the “checkbook” wasn’t full of cash… but rather a measly signed book.
The good news we’re told: sources were able to pick from Sweeney’s collection of 12, ranging from North Korea Undercover: Inside The World's Most Secret State or the non-fiction The Useful Idiot.
Where’s Mall Cop?
Former Us, NY Daily News, and Star reporter Michael Lewittes went from one of us… a gossip columnist… to a turncoat when he launched Gossip Cop in 2009, his citizens on patrol tabloid fact-checker.
The goal was to keep the likes of this column honest.
“Gossip Cop investigates entertainment stories that are published in magazines and newspapers, as well as on the web, to ascertain whether they are true or false,” the site once boasted.
The only problem was that the premise for Mall Cop — aka Lewittes — was built off the dishonesty of publicists — aka Hollywood’s paid liars — who would smack down stories… even when true.
One notorious incident took place when one of the weekly rags broke the news that Sandra Bullock had adopted her second child.
Mall Cop declared it was completely untrue. But alas, about a month later Bullock confirmed the report was correct in an on-the-record cover interview with People.
(That was before Wakeford’s reign, FYI.)
Instead of correcting his egregious error, Mall Cop changed the zero on his self-serving scale of one-to-ten, to make it a five.
He also refused to correct his utterly incorrect report that trashed the reporting of the magazine.
In any event, Gossip Cop last week quietly died a slow death. It now redirects to www.suggest.com.