Battle Of The Gossip Rags: Us Vs. In Touch

Who needs print celeb gossip anymore? After all, you can get updates on Jessica Simpson's activities all over the Web, seemingly by the hour.

And it's not as if these mags provide any kind of fresh spin or deep analysis that's lacking online. Here's what In Touch considers an exclusive scoop: "My weekend was good," says John Mayer, quoted after his first liaison with Jennifer Aniston.

Seems like gossip rags now exist primarily as a market for the paparazzi -- a theory suggested by the many remarkably similar photos in the May 12 issues of Us and In Touch. Both mags show Natalie Portman walking with her surgical-cone-wearing dog, before- and during-pregnancy head shots of Nicole Kidman, and -- hey, you can't have too many pix of Danny DeVito shopping for new eyeglasses, can you?

So are there any differences at all between the two mags, which I qualified for this gossip-off because of their identical cover stories? (People is often cited as Us' direct competitor, but People is in a different class. That's not just because of its no. 1 status in 2007 ad dollars -- as tracked by PIB, more than triple that of Us -- but because People acknowledges humans beyond the Hollywood axis.)

The J&J show: Both Us and IT feature stories about Jen and John's hot weekend together in Miami, with varying details about how they first hooked up, but the same overall theme: Is the ladies' man compatible with the world's most-famous jiltee?

The difference comes down to whether you like your voyeurism with an up-close, you-are-there vibe, or a focus on celeb perks.

IT provides blurry shots of the couple lying by the pool together -- both in bathing suits -- with details like "At one point, John and Jen's heads touched." Ugh! There's something so heavy-breathingly pathetic about viewing from this vantage point.

I prefer Us' focus on the services you get in a $3,000-a-night suite. As a former travel editor suffering from luxury hotel deprivation, I sigh for details like the couples' massage at Jen's Miami resort.

Us also gets clarity points for including all the lurid details in John's statement about Angelina Jolie; IT's incomplete quote may be PG-rated (no mention of blow jobs), but doesn't make much sense. (If you're wondering, it all has to do with Brad's presumed lack of a fantasy object because he's got the real thing.)

"Real" journalism?Us does a better, more even-handed job of parsing a "scandal" in a piece on the Miley Cyrus photo brouhaha. There's a sophisticated take on whether or not posing semi-nude was a calculated move; a disingenuous putdown of Vanity Fair, where the photos ran; and a sidebar on other "Young Stars Who Grinned and Bared" for an edifying touch of historical context.

IT's all about overblown headlines -- "Divorce Shocker: What Star Found Out"-- with no follow-through. What Star (Jones, natch) actually found out: nothing much, it seems. She's not even quoted in the story, which relies on lots of innuendo on whether or not hubby Al Reynolds is really gay ("I don't want to spoil my image of him," says his mother). In fact, IT has another story ("Lindsay Moves In With Her Girlfriend") where the subtext is, everybody's saying yes, she's really gay while at the same time denying it. Weird, and sadly not very gay-friendly.

Fashion Police: This Us feature, in which style experts sometimes too cutely rag on stars' rags (hey! It's catching!) adds a bit of welcome snark to the generally worshipful tone of most gossip mags. In IT, "Who Wore It Better?" does criticize fashion mistakes, but much more respectfully.

Most titillating tidbits:
IT and Us both major in short items -- photo captions, really, in which sources invariably trot out the tritest quotes they can think of ("They're really sad. They were very in love," about a breakup). Within this format appear some odd and funny bits: In Us, Julia Roberts and Matthew McConaughey admit they don't wear deodorant; in IT, Kelly Ripa explains how wearing a pair of padded panties for a shapelier rear view feels "like I am sitting in a very cozy chair!"

Is this the end of civilization as we know it because trees are being killed for this crap: "Finally, Nicole's Bump Is Showing!" in IT.

Bottom Line: I rank Us higher because of its slightly less-sleazy approach to putting celebs under a microscrope.


In Touch Weekly

Published By: Bauer Publishing Co.
Frequency: Weekly
Web site

Us Weekly
Published By: Wenner Media
Frequency: Weekly
Web site

Next story loading loading..