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Dish:: The Inside Story on the World of Gossip Hardcover – March 7, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (March 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380978210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380978212
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,349,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Who wouldn't want to know who Peter Lawford called to "clean" Marilyn Monroe's apartment hours after her death? Or Eddie Fisher's blunt views about dating Jewish women? Or what deal Ted Kennedy made with the National Enquirer to suppress the more incriminating stories about him? Like it or not, gossip is an integral part of our information-driven world; even many who decry its increasing prevalence in mainstream news venues enjoy and even relish it. Walls, a former gossip columnist for the E! Channel and novelist (Pest Control), has written a well-researched, witty history of the role gossip has played in U.S. media, politics and life. While she doesn't hesitate to produce plenty of choice information in the course of her survey, her intent is serious and well executed. Organizing her book around specific historical moments in the gossip industry's evolution--the rise and fall of Confidential Magazine in the 1950s, the power that Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper wielded in Hollywood, Elvis's death (and the endless refutations of it), Tina Brown's editorship at the New Yorker--Walls deftly examines and illuminates her main points: among them, that public figures exploit and benefit from "gossip" as much as they claim to be harassed and harmed by it (Princess Diana is a perfect example); that the thin line between "news" and "gossip" always depends on the media's biases and self-interests (JFK's not-very-secret affair with Monroe); and that the concept of "privacy" for public figures is always political (Monicagate). Provocative and invariably entertaining, Walls gives dishing the dirt its historical, social and political due. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

MSNBC celebrity reporter Walls traces the evolution of gossip in the media from the 1950s through the 1990s. The heyday of celebrity columnists Hedda Hopper, Louella Parsons, and Walter Winchell ushered in the first star scandal sheet, Confidential, in 1952 and with it a host of imitators like Hush-Hush and Uncensored. Later that decade, the National Enquirer paired celebrity exploitation and gore to reach new circulation heights. Television followed with provocative interviews of the famous, thinly veiled as news reporting. Walls dishes up plenty of gossip while chronicling the escalating American lust for insider information on celebrities. She recounts controversies surrounding the deaths of Elvis, Marilyn, and Princess Di and run-ins between the media and Cher, Donald Trump, Michael Jackson, and others. Both an entertaining insider's look and a solid history of gossip, this will be popular in public libraries and has a place in research collections on media and popular culture.
-Kelli N. Perkins, Herrick Dist. Lib., Holland, MI
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Jeannette Walls lives in Virginia and is married to the writer John Taylor. She is a regular contributor to MSNBC and has worked at several publications, including Esquire, USA Today, and New York.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By MLPlayfair on April 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure what I expected from this book when I picked it up. With Princess Grace on the cover (it doesn't talk about her at all) and a chapter about Diana, I guess I thought it would be about how great women took the hounding by the media. Well, it sort of is. But mostly it's about the gossip reporters, and about how the news industry, over the last few decades, slowly but solidly lost its integrity and turned toward sleaze for ratings and "scoops." Fascinating stuff! It doesn't so much repeat the gossip as it does tell how reporters get their story and what they do with it. I couldn't put this book down, except that every once in a while the sleaze factor was so great, I had to go and bathe just to feel clean again. There were parts I didn't really find captivating, but others where I laughed out loud, mostly at someone's arrogance. There's something in here for everybody. Easy to read, well written. I wanted more!
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By "koranda" on January 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
If you have any fascination with gossip/celebrities or how the "media machine" works, this is a great book. It is very fast pace, tracing the history of gossip columns from the early "penny papers" through Walter Winchell, Louella Parsons, the ET tonight type programming, and Matt Drudge. Lots of interesting tidbits about celebrities that I never knew, plus lots of information on how exactly the "publicity people" in Hollywood earn their keep. Who gets access to stars, why, and the hoops they jump through to keep it. I have to admit, it made me wonder about my own character (why am I so interested in what perfect strangers are up to) but then again, it is all in fun. A fun, quick read, with lots of historical information and background.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By andy behrman on April 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Dish was an incredibly entertaining book that read like a thriller of the gossip industry - - I don't think I put the book down more than two or three times. I was fascinated by the history of the world of gossip that the author traces from Confidential to the Enquirer to the birth of tabloid television. Interspersed throughout the book, the author manages to skillfully "drop" gossip of her own about celebrities, past and present, adding an "up to the minute" feeling to the book. If you're a media junkie, it's a must read!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By sandra pearson on March 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
At first glance I thought Ms Walls was going to tell me more about gossip than I really needed to know. After reading DISH, I was impressed by how well she kept my attention to the whole topic because she actually writes as a serious journalist giving the history of a form that is a well established part of our culture. The book is entertaining and informative and moves as a very rapid pace. I think it will delight all those readers who followed the news of previous celebrity watchers. It is well researched and written in a story fashion that does not lag. I couldn't put it down
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone interested in learning how the line between journalism and gossip has been forever blurred. But Walls--or her editor--glaringly mis-identifies some major players by name. For example, she calls former NBC news president Reuven Frank "Frank Reuven" and refers to Brown and Williamson scientist-whistleblower Jeffrey Wiegand as "Jeffrey Wigland." These mistakes are repeated in the book's index as well, along with some others. Somehow, I can't bring myself to give this more than 3 stars because the author's own errors in accuracy erode some of her credibility for me. Too bad, because otherwise, the book is exhaustively researched.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Chaunie Langland on August 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ms. Walls obviously did a lot of research for this book. It is well written, easy to read and a real eye-opener. The book follows the development of information published in newspapers and on television from the early days of Hollywood.

The biggest shocker in here for me was the revelations about how 60 Minutes operates. I grew up watching 60 minutes and believing in their stories whole heartedly. Well, the integrity level is not quite where I thought is was.

I don't avidly follow celebrity news, but since reading this book, I view it with a very different outlook and spend time considering who may actually be doing what to whom. (Or should it be to who?) When the recent Tiger Woods bru-ha-ha hit the news, it left me with some questions. The first one being - why now? Obviously this has been going on for a long time, why are the media reporting it NOW? Why not several years ago? Tiger must of ticked off the wrong media person.

For a great read, some interesting tidbits on past celebrities, and some insight into how the news is selected for reporting I strongly recommend this book. I also recommend Ms. Walls story of her childhood, The Glass Castle. A gripping story, sometimes I had to put it down for a while because I wasn't sure I was strong enough for what was coming next. At the beginning of the book I had to keep reminding myself that is was not fiction but a true story.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By andrew jackson on March 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A very good history on the convergence of gossip with poltics, entertainment and the media (television and magazines). However for recent events in the 1990's, Ms. Walls simply re-cycles old "Gossip."
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