No, The New York Daily News' Aussie gossip maven Ben Widdicombe isn't dead. But the celebrity-party-booze beat is dead to him. After a recent vacation in his native land of 'roos and convicts, Widdicombe has decided to start enjoying life again. His farewell Gatecrasher column will run tomorrow, but he was good enough to share his feelings with us in advance.
"I have been a gossip columnist for all my 10 years in New York-first with the online fashion column 'Chic Happens,' and six years full-time with the Daily News. But for a writer New York is like a fairground, and I think it's time to go on some of the other rides. Also lately I've developed a peculiar attitude towards scandal-with some of the items that have crossed my desk I've thought, 'This really isn't any of my business.' Which is problematic for a professional gossip columnist.
"I approached Gatecrasher as essentially a humor column that happened to be about gossip. But now for me it's time to Leave Britney Alone. Two weeks ago I went down to Palm Beach for Ivana Trump's wedding, which was a hoot. Around midnight, as the reception was winding down, I found Kathy Hilton alone in a corridor. She was in front of a full-length mirror, holding her dress and dancing with her own reflection like a happy teenager. Something about that moment struck me as the perfect image to leave Gossip with."
Ben's retirement completes a circle. Every single New York City gossip columnist who started out around the same time as I did are all gone now, victims of the inevitable burn out. Well, all but one...