Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hollywood on Parade!

I don't flip through Parade magazine, the Sunday supplement that claims a readership of 71 million (making it the most widely read magazine in the country), as often as I used to back when my Sundays were more leisurely and kid-free. But I still take a perverse interest in Walter Scott's Personality Parade, the Page 2 gossip column where (supposed) readers write in with their burning celebrity questions.

"Supposed," because it's difficult to imagine what ordinary citizen would come up with a question like this:
Is Colt McCoy, star quarterback of the Texas Longhorns, related to the McCoy Family Singers? -- Billy Joe Oliver, Temple, Tex.
Is Regional-Celebrity related to Family-of-Regional-Celebrities? Just the thing for my national column! Of course, nobody who cared about the regional celebrities in question would ever write to Parade to find out the answer. It seems far more likely that the McCoy Family Singers' hardworking publicist planted the item. Witness the suspicious facility with which "Walter Scott" (actually conservative author Edward Klein, who frequently issues schoolmarmish quasi-political scoldings in his answers) is able to reach the McCoy patriarch and get a quote:
"Our kids and grandkids all sing well," says Burt McCoy, Colt's granddad ... "Since Colt was a child, he's sung in our summer concerts."
I picture Klein sitting in a corner booth in Hollywood, hounded by dozens of hungry press agents. Every once in a while some enterprising Tony Curtisesque youngster manages to get an item about a quarterback or a folksy family group (or both!) in his influential column. ("Hm, who would care about this question other than the McCoy who signs my checks? Probably somebody from Texas ... what kind of names do those rubes have? I've got it -- Billy Joe! Falco, you've done it again, you smooth PR devil!")

Isn't it wonderful to know that the days of Sweet Smell of Success still live on in middle America's favorite Sunday timewaster, next to the Claritan ads and just a few pages away from Howard Huge?


Adam Villani said...

Oh man, we were just talking about that this morning. Golly, I wonder what Mark Wahlberg is up to! I think I'll write in to Walter Scott to find out. Oh, what a coincidence, he's got something new coming out soon!

the secret knitter said...

If I bother to flip through the weekly TV programming guide in the Sunday paper, invariably I will read the page with reader questions, usually about old stars or shows I've never heard of. I read these pieces with fascination as a kid, but now they're basically for old-timers who don't know about IMDB or Google.

Eric B. said...

Your post makes me feel better about my internalized "who?" when I read about the McCoys last Sunday. I'd never given much thought to those Q&A things, much less as potential PR outlets.