"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 28 August 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run XCVIII


[Cover of the National Enquirer boasting the headline, 'Lisa Marie to wed Michael Jackson again!']

While the National Enquirer has been

online for some time now, today

it launches a more ambitious

version of what up till now has

been mostly a promotional site.

At this point, it's not quite

clear whether America's favorite

scandal sheet will indeed be

breaking news as it occurs, or

simply portioning out its weekly

print version on a delayed daily

basis. If the former happens,

Sidney Blumenthal may become the

least of Matt Drudge's worries.

At present, we're just a little

disappointed by the Enquirer's

initial interactive features.

It's true that its Celebrity

Forum probably offers you the

only chance to speak to former

TV mountain man Dan Haggerty

outside of a San Bernadino biker

bar. So what? If we want

pleasant celebrity conversation,

we'll go to E! Online, where

there's an abundance of chatty

stars not yet past their

expiration dates. Frankly, we

were expecting something a

little more invasive from the

Enquirer, and also something a

little more upscale; after all,

the site's creators said they

were aiming to attract a

younger, more affluent audience

with the online version. So how

about an Obsession Java applet,

sponsored by Calvin Klein, that

would allow us to pinpoint the

current locations of our

favorite stars at all times?

Isn't that the sort of

relationship marketing the Web

has been promising us for the

last three years?


[The promo picture of Dee Snyder's new website, www.dee.org. Org? Isn't that reserved for non-profit organizations? Hmmm...]

Dee Snyder and Quentin Tarantino

prove that if Hamlet and Othello

had switched roles, two

tragedies would have been

averted. As shooting begins in

Colorado Springs on the

"gruesome thriller" Rune

(scripted by the former Twisted

Sister front man), the

regurgitating auteur is

considering taking his ongoing

acting catastrophe to Broadway

(playing the heavy in Frederick

Knott's imperiled-blind-woman

chestnut Wait Until Dark). Maybe

Tarantino - who in Four Rooms

turned in the most obnoxious

performance since Triumph of the

Will - and Snyder - whose

writing career peaked with

"We're Not Gonna Take It" -

should change jobs. At the very

least, Dee would make a scarier

villain than the increasingly

Billy-Bob-Thornton-ish Quentin.


[Religious logo with cheesy font and tired crucifixion iconography.]

In last week's "Your Pet Peeves

Ought to Be in Pictures," Wall

Street Journal op-ed writer Dave

Shiflett opined that Conspiracy

Theory represented a new form of

populist product placement. As

is usually the case in its

analysis of cultural

commodities, however, the

Journal got it only half right.

"Corporations would not

underwrite this sort of thing,"

wrote Shiflett, "but average

citizens would gladly pony up to

have their most-hated consumer

products drawn and quartered on

the big screen." Shiflett had

his briefs in a bunch about

negative references made to

Coca-Cola and KFC, but the real

genius of Conspiracy Theory is

that Joel Silver and Warner

Brothers did in fact trick

certain major companies into

paying for product placements -

the trick being that they were

companies that are themselves

the subjects of unnumbered

conspiracy theories. Remember

Julia's cell phone? Lucent. Her

mobile phone? MCI. Then there's

Republic National Bank, long a

source of fodder for

LaRoucheites and others.

Shiflett's other oversight? That

it hasn't been done before.


[Morphing image of Nicholas Cage and some guy I can't recognize to save my life.]

When elephants fight, only the

ivory smugglers win. As tobacco

foes and pros continue their

pissing match, one industry is

enjoying the golden shower:

advertisers. "We've spent all

these years convincing people to

smoke," said one exec, "and now

we have the opportunity to do

just the opposite." Turns out

there's a tidy profit to be made

in advertising apologias, a line

of work we suspect will continue

long after Joe Camel's turned to

dust. First of all, the nice

thing about combatting lethal

addictions is that you're

guarranteed an enemy for, er,

life. Second - tobacco

advertising doesn't die, it just

gets cancerous, feeding on the

ailing body of work known as

American film. Variety reported

that a "cigar-themed" script,

Blowing Smoke, is in

development. It's described as

"a cross between Sex, Lies and

Videotape and Swingers," and is

set to star Jim Belushi and

David Caruso, which sounds kinda

like Smoke with less talented

actors. Wonder if Dee Snyder's

free. Nevermind, in all the

recent talent farts of today's

news, think we smell a trend

here - actors looking for their

second wind give blow jobs to

products that have run out of

steam! On the slate for next

summer: Core Values, an

"Apple-themed" script starring

Keanu Reeves as Steve Jobs and

Crispin Glover as Bill Gates.

courtesy of the Sucksters

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