The general consensus seems to be that with my last few gawking hours, I might as well write the stuff that I couldn't write before. When you put it like that, though — it's your last chance ever! — I kind of space out. There's so much shit-slinging every single day, I can't even keep track of all the dramatics. But there was one recent incident that I'd been saving for when it might prove useful, and now seems like a good time for sharing.
We get our content from all over the place, including magazine editors, many of whom have great gossip about their competitors' foibles. If it's a decent tip that checks out, we'll go with it, axe-grinding or not. Not too long ago, an editor who I actually like very much, even if he works at Star, sent us one of these tips. It was a good story, scoopy enough to run with, and so we did. The item ended up getting a little mileage, and all was right with the world.
Until, shortly thereafter, I posted the following Gawker Stalker sighting of Star EIC Joe Dolce:
9/16 - I had the pleasure of hearing Joe Dolce screaming into his cellphone trying to get the autopsy report for Anna Nicole's son, while 200 other people were trying to listen to a wedding toast a few yards away. By the way, if you have the toxicology reports for Anna Nicole's son, Star magazine is willing to pay $10K for them.
An amusing sighting, but not unexpected — of course a shifty celebrity weekly editor is going to be working overtime on securing some morbid material, and he's not going to let some special day of eternal love get in his way.
About three minutes after that business went up, however, a frantic email arrived from the nice Star editor, which said something along the lines of: "Jessica, Joe is PISSED." Well, of course Joe was pissed. God forbid we use his name in vain. Move along folks, nothing to see here.
Then the phone rang, and I really shouldn't have answered (I think that should actually be a rule around here: don't answer the phone during business hours, because it's almost never good. Email good, phone baaad). It was the friendly Star editor, the one I like, and he was whimpering to me about how the item needed to come down, especially after Star had given Gawker that recent story. But Gawker isn't really a bastion of favor-trading, especially not if something is funny and should be posted. "I'm sorry," I explained, "but once items go up, they don't come down unless it's a legal thing." Which, for better or worse, is absolutely true. Until the lawyers tell us we're fucked, we try not to back down. I really felt bad for the nice editor who called — he was almost begging, and I could tell that he was being badly beaten.
After it was clear that I was not going to budge, he asked if Dolce could call me. "I don't really see the point in—" I started, but click! I'd been transferred to the man himself. That, really, was such a blessing, because it'd been at least 10 years since I was last spoken to like a naughty child. I can't possibly convey to you the tone of Dolce's voice and how disgustingly condescending it was, so take my word for it. Imagine Tim Gunn scolding a 5-year-old for shitting on a Chanel dress, and that'd be about how he sounded. I'm paraphrasing, but the conversation went something like this, all in disturbingly measured tones:
"Jessica, that item needs to be removed now."
"I'm sorry Joe, but we just don't do—"
"Jessica, I am asking that the item comes down. Now. We have been very good to you and have given you items to help ensure your success. [HA! I really loved that part.] This, in the business, is what we call biting the hand that feeds you." He said the last part really slowly, as if he were introducing me to a strange and foreign concept.
"Listen, I appreciate the help you've given Gawker, but we don't pull punches and—"
"Jessica. No — Jessica — Jessica, I am not happy. I do not like to see my name used in these matters. I am demanding that you take down the item."
"No. The item is not—"
"Jessica. Jessica, listen to me. Listen. To. Me. If you do not immediately remove the item, this will be the end of our relationship." I'd no idea, of course, that we were in a relationship. If I'd known, I'd have worn something nice.
"Well, Joe, I'm sorry to hear that [polite lie], but it is what it is."
"Jessica, I am giving you one more chance—"
And this annoying banter went on for some time. I got to the point where I was ready to pull out my hair and use it as a noose, so I finally passed the buck. Any phone call of this nature that lasts for more than 15 minutes is above my pay grade, so I said the best I could do was let Dolce talk to Chris Mohney, Gawker's managing editor, whose pay grade ostensibly does cover dealing with megalomaniacs. I assured Dolce that Chris would have the exact same response, but he didn't care. "You have whoever is above you call me." And...scene.
Poor Chris was briefed on the absurd situation, called Dolce's office, and was transferred directly to the cranky princess. As soon as Chris identified himself, Dolce hung up on him. Nice! Later, an assistant said it was "a mistake" — huh? — and asked that Chris call back. Chris, who is far too kind for his job, actually did so and had a very haughty Dolce inform him that "the young lady" who had he dealt with earlier "refused to remove the offending item." As if Chris were going to do something to rectify this life-threatening situation? Chris gave him the same spiel as I had, and the take away was that Dolce was actually quite pitiable, being so deeply upset about a Gawker Stalker sighting, of all things. The item remains and Dolce probably spent that weekend crying into his Laura Ashley pillow, his houseboy trying to comfort him with chamomile tea.
I suspect that this may be one of the last times I ever get to write the word "douchebag" and have it published, but I can't think of anyone more deserving of the honor. So, to clear the air: Joe Dolce, I'm sorry you're such a douchebag.