When Britney Spears Federline popped out her little Cheeto earlier this month, it should have ranked among the greatest moments in lowbrow celebrity journalism.

Brandishing faux hospital credentials, "reporters" should have slipped crisp $20 bills to any staffer bearing even the slightest wisp of information ("Britney's aunt brought the child a Charlie Daniels hits CD and his very first tin of Skoal!"). Imaginations should have run amok, with one tabloid reporting that the new parents were kaput as a couple, another claiming that paternity had yet to be conclusively established, and a third touting the kid's uncanny physical resemblance to Elvis.

Here's how new tabloid kid on the block OK! heralded the event on the cover of its October 3 issue: "Congrats Britney & Kevin! OK! Welcomes Brit's Bundle." Talk about not understanding your competitive landscape.

I don't know anything about the overseas history of OK!. I don't know, or care, if it pays for exclusives or gives its subjects final approval over stories and photos. All I can do is evaluate the product in front of me, which -- cheesecake Jessica Alba photos notwithstanding -- offers precisely nothing that can't be found elsewhere in vastly more entertaining form.

Judging from the contents of the Oct. 3 issue, OK! seems to have already settled in as the dry white toast of the celeb-worship genre. It devotes eight pages to Jenny McCarthy (who?) and six to Mark Consuelos (who who?), breaking up the banality with an EXCLUSIVE on Enrique Iglesias' new fragrance commercial. Get this, kids: the guy endured "a grueling 15-hour day, with only a short lunch break of grilled chicken and Caesar salad." And to think we still waste valuable hours lamenting how Kathie Lee Gifford once populated her sweatshops with infants and orphans.

OK! also reveals meandering gossip nuggets that likely won't cost too many publicists their jobs ("Mariah Carey is said to be looking for a house in a remote part of England") and publishes what would appear to be the maximum number of pursed-lipped Hilton sister glam shots permitted by the Geneva Conventions.

Then there are the celebrity Q&As. OK!'s cover interview confronts the aforementioned Ms. Alba with the tough questions -- "Are you a shopaholic?" -- that gossip hawks like Jeannette Walls don't have the cojones to pose. Too, in its insatiable thirst for the raw, unflinching truth, the mag also asks -- nay, forces! -- Gwyneth Paltrow to comment on working with Jake Gyllenhaal ("It was nice. He was very sweet, a nice guy").

Will readers accustomed to "Style Police" bitchiness and unsubstantiated innuendo warm to the OK! approach? I highly doubt it, no matter how many stars the title might lure with its promise of niceties. What the mag adds to the celeb-mag equation in the form of mostly in-focus photography and meatier paper stock, it loses in creativity (a Fashion Week photo spread presents six pages of near-identical layouts) and credibility (it presents the news as filtered through a street gang of publicists and attorneys). There is no place for manners in this category, and there should be no place for OK! on your powder-room table or in your media plan.

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