|ROCK AND A HARD PLACE: JARED PAUL STERN, GOSSIP MONGER.|
Jared Paul Stern used to be big shit ... and now, he has a Website. Okay, so that's not entirely accurate. Stern's got connections, a career's worth of favors yet to be repaid and a cushy gig at the New York Post as their book review editor and a part-time Page Six scoundrel. Before this, the nattily dressed wordsmith was paid major beans at Star magazine as Bonnie Fuller's numero deuce. That didn't go so well, apparently. However, he's got a history of writing for many publications like the Wall Street Journal, Details, and, of course, a couple of magazines that died horrible deaths, namely Talk and Detour. (Oh, just read the about the whole darned thing in more flattering detail at JaredPaulStern.com.)
Yeah, this guy's got a few bones to pick. And what better place to do so than The Black Table's Q-and-A Mardi Gras called Rock and a Hard Place. So, let's commence bone picking.
Quienes mas macho? Jared Paul Stern!
BT: Now, you used to be write for a column called "Nightcrawler" when you were doing the gossip dodge full-time. Did you ever go all McInerney and just blow fucking rails all night with any of the party
people in order to get your scoop? Gossip people do that, correct? I heard Liz Smith once banged a line out of Robin Byrd's hiney beard.
JPS: Blowing rails isn't really my bag, though there've certainly been occasions when enough nose candy was being hoovered up around me to fill a week's worth of columns. I don't know that gossip writers are more prone to ride the white horse than anybody else though. Wasn't Jayson Blair coked to the gills when he made Raines Howell? And that wasn't Robin Byrd. It was Donald Trump's hair.
Booze is another story of course; I have plied Cameron Diaz with
BT: Why do gossip pages run blind items? Is there a lack of confidence in the story? Is it used as a cryptic message to publicists and celebrities to let them know that they're being watched?
JPS: It's not neuroscience. Some items have to be blind 'cause you'd be sued for saying so-and-so was banging a pre-teen crack whore. Too good a story to pass up altogether of course. The guilty parties know who they are, while the rest of the world has fun trying to figure it out.
BT: What's with your dopey fucking hat?
JPS: When I first came here after college I decided it was better to be known as "that asshole in the hat" then not known at all. (I'm wiser now.) But I also discovered why those old dudes used to wear 'em -- keeps the head warm. So the hat stays. The older I get the less ridiculous it looks is the plan. Sinatra said "A hat looks right when no-one laughs." And if anyone does laugh, kick their ass.
BT: Do gossip pages really attempt to 'protect' certain people and ruin others? Does Tara Reid have a legitimate complaint about allegedly getting shit-winded unfairly by the press?
JPS: If Tara wasn't dumber than a sack of hammers, she'd quit bitching and realize that no-one would have ever heard of "Tara Reid" if not for her gossip-worthy drinking decathlons. It's a little late for her to decide she wants to be Meryl Streep. She's a fun girl -- gets her tits out at parties and all that -- but she's flattering herself if she thinks anyone's out to get her. Good gossip is the coin of the realm and the only thing that matters. Everything else is either paranoia or wishful thinking.
BT: As a former (and part-time) gossip dog, can you name one instance in your career where you just said, "I can't do this anymore. I feel like such a piece of shit..."?
JPS: Publicists try to play the guilt card all the time and they love to yap about "karma," but it's hard to feel sorry for celebs with oceans of money who employ armies of sociopathic assholes to call you up and bitch about every little item. You sign away your
Great Men With Hats!
And, Lest We Forget: Great Men Without Hats!
privacy when you become a star or boldface bigshot and agree to play this game. You took our money, so we own you. If you don't like it buy an island and stay on it. Give that gullible dumbass John Q. Public back his $50 million or shut the fuck up and entertain us. Guilt is for sissies.
BT: Would you rather choke on Tara Reid's pancake nipple or go
JPS: Well, the problem is you would choke 'cause the goddamn thing'd break off being plastic and all. And who the fuck is Joe Franklin? Your cultural references are a little obscure. Also a little unclear on "taint," but it sounds decidedly unpleasant. Better the devil you know, I guess. Bring on Tara's tittie; let the choking begin.
BT: So, now that you're editor of the New York Post "Books" section, do you ever get totally frustrated when you bust your ass putting together your section knowing full well that the majority of the Post's audience has the mental capacity of a shoe? Do you ever just want to totally fuck with people and insert a graph in Sunday's paper like 'IF YOU CAN READ THIS, WHY THE HELL AREN'T YOU READING THE NEW YORK TIMES?'
JPS: And just who the hell do you think is trolling Black Table for gems about Joe Franklin's taint -- Stephen Hawking? Wake up and smell your demographic, asshole! Actually your average Post Books section reader is a multilingual supermodel with a chateau in France and an advanced degree in astrophysics. (I've got a marketing study to prove it around here somewhere.) And look at our writers: Whit Stillman, Chip Kidd, Simon Doonan, Toby Young, Michael Gross, Choire Sicha, Steve Garbarino, to name a few, all fans of the paper. Better content does bring in better readers, and in any case the Times can no longer afford to look down its nose.
BT: Is it true that Steve Dunleavy -- him being an Aussie and
JPS: Soup-can? More like a fucking fire hydrant. Tara Reid told me it barely fits in Robin Byrd's hiney-beard.
BT: Alright, now let's get into the good stuff: You were once
JPS: Twatzi doesn't begin to cover it (but nice try). Between Bonnie and her deputy dildo Joe Dolce the place is a soul-destroying black hole of despair. It's no wonder the assistants piss in her soup. (I know I did.) I did it for the money, which I knew was fucking stupid, but I didn't know how stupid at the time. Didn't take me long to figure it out though. Almost everyone who was there at the time has quit now as well; most of them are writing books about what a bitch Bonnie is. Word on the street is Dolce's working on his own bitchy little tell-all.
BT: Do you think Star is getting its money's worth out of Bonnie Fuller? I mean, they just turned it into Us Weekly. But with more photos of fat celebrities on the beach, of course.
JPS: Strip away the Gucci leathers -- which by the way look like ass -- and Bonnie Fuller is a fat celebrity on the beach. Minus the celebrity and the beach. She never stopped eating except to yell at people because her soup tastes like piss, or whatever. Hiring her and spending all that dough was a big fucking gamble for David Pecker, and I think he's probably feeling very sorry about now, having pissed away $50 million with fuck all to show for it. Rumor has it he's wants to get rid of her ass ASAP -- especially after Star royally fucked up on the Brad Pitt/Jennifer Aniston story.
BT: Alright, let's get back to the money thing: Tell me -- ballpark figure -- how much you sold your soul for at Star? Do you think you'll ever get an offer like that again?
JPS: The popular press reported it to be $300,000 a year. Let's just say that as usual they were mostly accurate. It only sounds like a lot of money, and after taxes it was a lot less. Plus corporate perks are pretty much a bunch of bullshit unless you're working for a blue-chip company. Hopefully I'll get lots more offers. If you're not in demand then you're nowhere. But I won't make the same mistake twice.
BT: When you got the contract did you rejoice or were you apprehensive? Did something seem a little off from the get-go?
JPS: The dough was cause for celebration, but like I said that was pretty short-lived. And it seemed very fucking off from the get-go. It's not that I didn't know it was going to be a world of shit, I just chose to ignore it. Profit by my mistakes, young impudent sir, and do not be at home when the devil comes calling.
BT: Attn. Satan: You can reach A.J. Daulerio at 917-854-3630. Leave message. Will call back immediately.