First off, let’s get the hypocrisy part of this out of the way. If you’re a producer on a show and you hear “ET” is coming to interview one of the stars, your reaction is, “Great, free publicity for us!” and you move the production schedule around to accommodate them.
But as a viewer, sitting home watching one of these shows, listening to the opening theme, seeing the host or hostess strut out onto the set and smiling with almost deranged glee over whatever super-hot breaking celebrity news they have to impart, I want to blow my brains out.
From a creative standpoint, whoever invented the concept of entertainment news should be shot. War is news. Entertainment is often what you seek out to forget about the news. Or occasionally to shed some light on it or make fun of it. Though from a business standpoint, whoever invented these shows should be given their weight in gold, as they pull off one of the most brilliant feats of alchemy in broadcasting: that of presenting advertising and promotion as content.
Not that these shows are the only ones guilty of this. The other pimps in the celebrity whorehouse are magazines, from the cheesy supermarket gossip rags right up to People, Us and Entertainment Weekly.
Then there are the Barbara Walters softball interviews with recent Oscar winners and on Bravo, the king of the celebrity asskissers — James Lipton, the host of “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” or, as we called it in the writers room, “Inside the Actor’s Anus.” This guy’s unbelievable. With sycophantic glee and a “Tell us about the wonderfulness that is you,” interview style, he can snake his tongue up an actor’s ass from six feet away and tickle their eyeballs from the inside.
Don’t get me wrong: I love actors. It’s the hero worship I don’t get. These people are not curing cancer, they’re just pretending to be a guy who cures cancer.
Gurvitz has penned episodes of “Frasier,” “The Wonder Years” and “Becker” in his 20 years as a TV scribe and producer. This is adapted from ” ‘Hello,’ Lied the Agent,” published by Phoenix Books.