Talking heads, part one

Pub date December 10, 2008
SectionArts & CultureSectionTrash

TV DRIVE-BY Are TV commentators covert celebrities? Showbiz Tonight fosters this impression. Instead of junket interviews with fame’s roadkill or TMZ-style rampage-cam footage of them at Starbucks, it devotes the majority of its daily, endlessly-rerun hour to carefully curated prefab arguments about the stars. The show’s reliable go-to panelist crew gets more regular airtime than any celeb-bot. It’s startling — shocking! Thus, in the first of what may be a series of infotainment drive-by portraits, Trash dares to take on the chattering skulls of CNN’s self-billed "most provocative entertainment news show." Please, AJ Hammer, don’t hurt ’em.

Lisa Bloom Based on her facial expressions, celebrity doings leave a slightly lemon-y aftertaste for this lawyer — the literal offspring of Gloria Allred — and host of the truTV series Open Court. According to Bloom’s official Web site, TV Guide deems her "Plucky!" In addition to legal expertise, she’s prone to the occasional psychiatric diagnosis, labeling Britney Spears (a fave topic) "bipolar."

Steve Santagati Need a misogynist bro-down dude with tousled yet dirty hair, tanned and muscular (yet not too muscular) physique, and permanent "Yeah, I’m an asshole" smirk? Santagati, the man who authored 2007’s The Manual, is your go-to guy.

Dr. Judy Kuriansky Let’s keep it simple: she’s the Dr. Joyce Brothers of the 21st century. Along with Bloom, she’s a reliable nemesis of Santagati’s.

Carlos Diaz Cherubic but sometimes party-worn, this ExtraTV correspondent is throwing a Vegas New Year’s bash where people can "party like its $19.99!"

Howard Bragman You have to love CNN for erasing journalistic ethics completely by bringing a PR agent into its editorial fold. Head of the firm 15 Minutes — the Web site of which greets visitors with quotes from Will Rogers, Chuang-tzu, and, of course, Andy Warhol — this out and proud master of the soft sell has never met a comeback kid who didn’t deserve some sympathy, or a train wreck that didn’t deserve rescue efforts. (Except maybe Paula Abdul.)

Ken Baker No stranger to controversy himself, this friend of Ryan Seacrest has blazed a trail from an especially litigious era of US Weekly to his current day gig as Entertainment News Editor of E!.

Janelle Snowden To quote a Bratmobile song," "Janelle! Janelle! She’s so swell! Oh, Janelle!"

Jane Velez-Mitchell Lady justice demands this roundup end with a bang, or in this case, the bewigged bangs of Velez-Mitchell, the campiest and wittiest of Showbiz Tonight‘s growing legion of talking heads. The most surprising thing about Velez-Mitchell’s 100-percent pulp book Secrets Can Be Murder (2007) is that her analysis of tabloid fodder is thoroughly feminist in a manner that contradicts the old canard about feminists having no sense of humor. She may be fond of adding -cide to every other word in the dictionary (e.g., "gendercide," "teenacide"), but she even quotes Shakespeare in the intro. Give this lady a CNN show already. Oh, wait, she just got one: Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell.