Goodbye, Bill Gallo; Good grief, Will Smith

Today's tabloids, May 11, 2011. ()
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Each day, the New York tabloids vie to sell readers at the newsstands on outrageous headlines, dramatic photography, and, occasionally, great reporting. Who is today's winner?

Daily News: The News finally gave up on the death of bin Laden for its cover today, but not I think because of any judgment on the continuing news interest in that story.

It was always on the cards that the day their sports cartoonist Bill Gallo died, he'd get the wood. It was presumably a bit intimidating for Ed Murawinski, who joined the art staff as recently as 1968, to draw a portrait of Gallo, who joined the paper before World War II and returned there after fighting with the Marine Corps' Fourth Division in Roi-Namur, Tinian and Iwo Jima. And while his sports cartoons, which he'd been doing by the time of his death from pneumonia at 88 for over 50 years, are what he's most famous for, it's two of his recurring editorial characters, Basement Bertha and Yuchie, that are pictured on the wood in a layer above Murawinski's portrait of Gallo with tears on their cheeks. It's the full celebrity-obituary treatment: nothing but his name and years on the cover.

The New York Post: If you're not dedicating your cover to an obituary of a beloved employee, there's apparently not much else to do. Which is why the Post must have decided to complain about the size of Will Smith's trailer at the Soho set of his coming movie, Men in Black III. The Post has only gathered two neighborhood residents and one shopkeeper to complain along with them, and there's no statistic for us about 311 calls or anything similar; there's been no community board discussion that we're aware of from the article, and no statement from a councilmember, though that may follow their front-page story. It's just a very big trailer.

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Observations: I don't think the News is overestimating the newsstand value of a Bill Gallo obituary; it's just not the calculation. The calculation is to do something big for a well-loved and famous star from their staff. I don't begrudge them this! It's a little mystifying that the Post should come up so short on a day when basically they had a bye. This Will Smith trailer should have been a short Page Six item, and perhaps even began that way. It's a make-work piece. Still, it's Will Smith, and it's outraged. With a special commendation to the News for doing the right thing by Gallo, the win still goes to the one with the biggest seller.

Winner: The New York Post.