10:45 am Nov. 28, 2012
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?
'PSYCHO SLUT' SQUAWKS: Since I'm not sure where to begin here, I'll start by laying out the facts, which may make it easier to sort out the giddy tabloid piss-up that is today's New York Post.
Way back in 2000, when Quebec native Genevieve Sabourin was still in her 20s, she was working as a publicist on the film Pluto Nash, which was filming in Canada. Alec Baldwin had a cameo in the movie and the two met. At a dinner during the filming Sabourin sat next to Baldwin. Fast forward to 2010, when Sabourin finds herself looking for a job in the movies here in New York.
It's a little unclear how, but producer Martin Bregman found himself calling in favors on her behalf, including one from Baldwin, who contacted her. The two, according to Sabourin, began a correspondence on Facebook. Sabourin and Baldwin met.
Baldwin's account of their evening together is pretty terse. His lawyers admit the two had dinner, and won't say more. Sabourin says they took a "car ride" in Central Park, which carried an inexplicable thrill of romance for her, perhaps because it's so close to a carriage ride, which is a tourist trap anyway. (This reminds me a bit of a woman I met who moved here from Toronto to work at the publishing house where I had my first real job. She was a big cheese and lord of all of us, but didn't know much, and bragged to us underpaid assistants that she had bought the apartment of her dreams: "I finally have what I've always wanted: a Lexington Avenue address," she said.)
Anyway: Then they had dinner, then they had sex in her hotel room, then, the next day, texting her from the Hamptons, Baldwin told her it was over.
Sabourin marched over to his Greenwich Village apartment and Baldwin's girlfriend (now wife) Hilaria Thomas called the police. Since then Sabourin's attempts to engage Baldwin have continued erratically. She was arrested in April for sending emails and text messages to Baldwin in which she pledged her love to him and told him she wanted to have a baby with him and also that she wanted money.
An aggravated harassment case against Sabourin is ongoing, and it was in the course of yesterday's otherwise standard proceedings that Sabourin managed somehow to make news.
First of all, her lawyer, Maurice Sercarz, initiated a sidebar asking to be removed from the case. "Miss Sabourin feels it is a good idea to tweet, to appear on television and discuss the case in the media contrary to my advice," Sercarz said.
It was during this sidebar that Sabourin turned to reporters, crossed her fingers and flashed a smile at photographers. Sercarz got his wish.
Then, suddenly, she was arrested, for violating an order of protection by directing Twitter messages to public handles maintained by Baldwin and his wife Hilaria. They're kind of crazy messages, including a series of four to Baldwin's brother, Daniel. Putting on a black trench coat with a broad, fur collar, she was taken to the station house, where a medic treated her for an asthma attack before police returned her to the courthouse for her arraignment on the new charges.
It's certainly possible that the last straw for her lawyer was Sabourin's decision to meet up with Post columnist Andrea Peyser Monday for a chat in the lobby of the InterContinental Hotel. It is impossible for me to fathom what Sabourin hoped to gain by this interview, notwithstanding Peyser's own history with Baldwin. It did not go well for her.
Peyser describes Sabourin as a "crazypants Alec Baldwin 'stalker'" and "psycho slut done up in 4-inch Michael Kors purple do-me pumps," who got "lucky and stupid" with Baldwin one night in 2010. She found the "lovelorn wackadoodle" and "devoted star-lover" was still clinging to Baldwin "like a Band-Aid" as she "cradled an Alec substitute, a hyperactive, rat-sized 15-month-old Yorkie named Charlie, for Charlie Chaplin," who "cried like a demon" that it was all "'a love triangle gone bad!'"
So it's a bit mystifying to me that the paper didn't put the interview, billed inside as an "exclusive," on the front. Don't get me wrong: Sabourin is the entire front. But it's Laura Italiano's sober-minded (by tabloid standards) court report that leads the paper. No reference to the exclusive interview, which inside is headlined "'ONE & DONE' GAL TELLS ALL! THE SEX! THE KISS-OFF!"
Is Peyser doing self-parody now? It's hard to tell.
That's not to say that they didn't try to have fun. "STAR CROSSED" reads the knockout-white text below the picture of her in a sleeveless, retro-looking dress with a Kenneth-y hair-do crossing her fingers and smiling conspiratorially at the press gang. (Get it? "Crossed.") The finger theme continues over into what the Post editors know perfectly well is a kid's dirty joke: "Alec's 'lover girl' fingered in NY court." The text of the piece begins in a white box with a silhouetted picture of Alec Baldwin's head, a sour expression playing across his face.
IF THEY COULD JUST REACH THEIR TRUSTY THESAURUSES: So I'm not sure what's up with the Batman theme on the front of today's News. It seems a bit like getting a story in about LIPA and power outages and quoting Shazam. But let's go with it for a minute: A giant red irregular comic-book starburst is emblazoned with yellow comic sound-effect lettering reading "KA-POW!" Above that it says "HOLY COW, BATMAN" in similar lettering in white. They then do the thing where there are three bullet points made to look like bullet holes. (These bullet holes are done kind of shabbily, though. Remember when the News could create the effect of bullet punctures in metal? These just look like sloppy bullet points.)
The bullet points are: "No shootings," "No stabbings," "No slashings." "Crime-free day in Gotham" reads the triumphant last line on the page. It's billed as an exclusive, and though the city did yesterday release new crime statistics for the last month it does seem as though this story, which covers the only full calendar day, Monday, in which none of these three kinds of crimes were reported, was come across independently.
By way of contrast, look what am New York made of the statistics that were released by the police yesterday: "CRIME SURGE," reads text rendered as black-on-yellow police tape. "NYPD reports burglary spike in neighborhoods hard hit by storm." Well, at least those aren't shootings, stabbings or slashings.
It's been a strange obsession of this administration to hope for and hype up any news of crime reductions related somehow to the storm. And while the News makes no effort to explain, via Hurricane Sandy or anything else, the relatively nonviolent hours between 10:30 p.m. Sunday night, when a man was shot in the head and badly wounded in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and 11:20 a.m. yesterday when a 27-year-old man was shot in Flatlands, it's clear they're running with a story that the police are perfectly happy to see.
The tabloids have also been boosters in their editorial pages for the city's stop-and-frisk policy. It's one of those situation in which crime statistics can be used to bolster pretty much no matter what they are. (More guns recovered? It's working, because look at all these guns. Fewer guns recovered? It's working, because look at how deterred people are from carrying guns.)
But of course, this un-manic Monday is only the lede of a short story about the actual statistics. Crime is up three percent this year, by the way. But murders are down 23 percent, shooting 10 percent. Then there are some gymnastics: Police tell the News they think more people are carrying knives, because the penalties are less if they are caught in a stop-and-frisk operation, but the News doesn't give us the data on "slashings" or "stabbings." (What is the difference between those, from a criminal-justice standpoint, by the way?)
OBSERVATIONS: It's not worth a separate mention really, but the News also has a sidebar with pictures of David Wright and Andy Pettitte advertising two off-season baseball stories. The reason I mention it is that the paper gets a giant visual out of the "KA-POW" and two recognizable faces on the front today. But as we know, the combination of these two elements loses power when they are not knitted together in the same story. The real question is whether this "KA-POW" actually packs any kind of punch. Let's put aside the fact that it doesn't make much actual sense.
It's got to go up against the Post's Alec Baldwin obsession (something Peyser jokingly admits, ending her column with the words "Admit it Alec. You don't want her. You're mine").
So, "KA-POW!" is a big word, and comic books are all about visual impact. Still, I don't think this reads. There's a strip ad at the bottom advertising the New York Lottery's $500 million Powerball jackpot for one thing, and it almost at first glance seems like a package about the lottery. It also leaves the paper with an incredibly text-driven front. "STAR CROSSED" is not exactly a 50-pound weight, but the eye darts from pretty Sabourin to famous Baldwin to the big, big words. And there's a dirty joke.
Winner: New York Post.