Kiss of the Trampire? ‘Daily News’ to overhaul its gossip beat

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The Daily News is overhauling its gossip coverage.

"We're in the midst of rethinking our entire gossip enterprise and what shape it will take," John Oswald, managing editor for features at the News, told Capital. "The whole thing is under review."

What that means, said Oswald, is that the paper's flagship gossip column, Gatecrasher, will at some point in the near future cease to exist as it does now: a standard two-page spread of scoops, party items and celebrity photos similar to Page Six, the long-running gossip column of rival tabloid The New York Post.

This latest development follows the departure last month of Frank DiGiacamo, who took the lead on Gatecrasher two years ago. Since DiGiacamo left, Gatecrasher writers Carson Griffith and Adam Caparell have been holding down the fort with the help of newcomer Brian Niemietz, a former Post permalancer who previously contributed to Page Six and the features desk.

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Rounding out the expanded News gossip team will be Nate Freeman, the former New York Observer nightlife reporter who'd lately been writing for Artinfo, and another new hire whom Oswald declined to name, though he said she begins on Thursday.

The makeover will be the second major change to hit the News' gossip pages since 2010, when veteran gossips George Rush and Joanna Molloy ended their eponymously-named column after 15 years. (Rush took a buyout; Molloy stayed on as a news columnist.) Oswald said the whole process would be completed within a month or two, but he wouldn't say any more about what the reorientation might look like or whether they'd be keeping the name "Gatecrasher."

At different times in the years since Mortimer Zuckerman and Rupert Murdoch bought the News and the Post, respectively, gossip has been a major front in the battle between the two tabloids, depending on how much effort either paper was actually putting into the beat at any given time. It's been looking more and more like an on-moment for a gossip battle, with Page Six in the hands of relative newcomer Emily Smith, formerly of U.K. News Corp. tabloid The Sun (longtime former Page Six editor Richard Johnson now helms the Hollywood bureau for Murdoch's tablet newspaper, The Daily), and the News in the hands of Colin Myler, another veteran of News Corp's racy British tabloids. (He edited News of the World until it was shuttered amid the escalating phone-hacking scandal last summer.)

Myler has no shortage of celebrity-gossip chops, and he's already upstaged the Post in this department once or twice, most notably with the News' treatment of l'affaire Kristen Stewart. (Its coverline was "TRAMPIRE,"  an exclamation good enough to be appropriated by Will Ferrell for comic bits, while the Post was left with the clumsier, "Vamp tramp comes clean".) Insiders suspect that the type of lurid celebrity fare native to Gatecrasher will continue to be featured more prominently in the paper and, even moreso, on its website.

Oswald acknowledged that the gossip overhaul reflected the broader currents of change that are underway at the News.

"Clearly since Colin came in there have been tremendous changes with how the paper looks, its energy, its appearance," said Oswald. "Certainly gossip and features have been a part of that. He's looking at all aspects of the paper."

Oswald, who was previously deputy managing editor for news, has been running the features department (which includes Gatecrasher), since a few months before the May death of former features chief Robert Heisler.