Tuesday, May 24, 2011

THE ROYAL WATCH: Five Things You Need To Know Right Now

Now that the royal wedding is over and the newlyweds have settled into married life in Anglesey, Wales here's a primer on everything you need to know to keep up with William, Catherine and the in-laws right now:

1. For the moment, Kate and Wills are back on the PR trail Now that Prince William and Kate (I just can't get used to calling her Catherine yet) are back from their media-free honeymoon in Seychelles, they are back on the 'walkabout' circuit (the Brit's term for photo ops). On Tuesday, the couple met with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama (Evidently, there are no hard feelings about the Obama's invite getting lost in the mail) at Buckingham Palace. In a series of photos released earlier today, it looked as if while the president and the prince chatted, the women struck up their own conversation where Catherine appeared to show Mrs. Obama her engagement ring. (AP has the whole series of snaps). For the record, Michelle wore a floral dress by Barbara Tfank with her signature shrunken cardigan and wide belt (Im not a fan of this silhouette) while Kate sported a chic taupe sheath by Reiss for the occasion. Who wore it better? I'm giving this round to a rapidly shrinking Kate (who may or may not be on the Dukan diet)

2. Pippa is the new media darling of the family Outlets from The New York Times to People have christened Pippa Middleton a star. People even went so far as to say that Kate's younger sister "stole the show" at the wedding. No other celebrity bridesmaid in recent memory has garnered so much attention for simply showing up. The moment she stepped from the limo in her figure hugging white dress with its strategically placed buttons running down the back, the web exploded. To wit: 150,000 fans of "The Pippa Middleton Ass Appreciation Society" are showing their enthusiasm for Pippa's size 2 um, assets on Facebook. Thanks to a penchant for posh but price-friendly high street style, Pippa is fast becoming a style icon, too. The same day she was spotted carrying a grey leather handbag from Modalu, the site sold out of the item. And here's a newsflash: The New York Post ran a fashion story touting the return of blazers thanks to Pippa and Kate. Interestingly enough, all this attention to Pippa actually works out very well for the royal family since it takes some of the heat off Kate. But her mother and father must be under some pressure to keep things on an even keel. According to a source with ties to the Middletons, Carole and Michael Middleton are being very careful to maintain the dignified image they demonstrated throughout the engagement and at the wedding which means keeping a watchful eye on Pippa and her brother, James.

3. Prince Harry is now the most eligible bachelor in the world Having long endured being second string as "the spare" to William's "heir," it looks as if Harry has finally come into his own as a star in his own right. Let's face it, he is a lot sexier and suddenly better looking than William and seems to have transformed his inner bad boy urges (no more Nazi uniforms or druken dust-ups with the paparazzi) into a very charming persona. He was simply wonderful with his young charges at the royal wedding (and even produced some toys from his pocket to keep the pages and flower girls occupied on the carriage ride to Buckingham Palace). His whispered comment to William, "Wait until you see her" when he spotted Kate walking down the aisle as the two brothers stood at the altar is one of my favorite moments from the wedding. Harry's on-again, off-again lady love Chelsy Davy was at the wedding (looking a bit bedraggled, if you ask me) and attended the private dinner afterwards with him so things seem to be back on for the moment. This summer, the couple will be living near each other about 80 miles outside of London where she'll be working in a law firm close to where Harry is stationed to fly military helicopters. Some reports say its Chelsy, not Harry, who is reluctant to take their relationship to the next level. It seems free-spirited Chelsy is not at all enamoured of life as a royal and doesn't want to give up her freedom. I'm sure there's any number of duchesses-in-waiting who would gladly take her place. My money is on Harry for next year's winner of People's Sexiest Man Alive title.

4. Despite all rumors to the contrary, Charles will be England's next king Reports have been circulating for months that Charles will never be king and William will succeed his grandmother because an overwhelming number of people in the UK would like that to be so. These rumblings were supported by several polls taken by British media outlets. Polls are one thing, but the line of succession is another. There is no end in sight to long reign of Queen Elizabeth so it's likely that Prince Charles' reign, when it happens, will be a relatively short one and Prince William will likely be nearing his forties by the time he ascends to the throne. One royal insider told me: "Tradition is not something William takes lightly. He would never push for a change of this magnitude. He knows his father has waited his whole life to be king. He wants to see his father in the 'top job.'" For now, William is enjoying married life and pursuing his passion as a RAF search and rescue pilot. "He is in no mood to hurry destiny along," said the insider.

5. Prince William and Catherine will keep a low profile for the next year -- or two After inviting 2 billion people to witness their nuptials, the royal newlyweds are trying to maintain some semblance of "a normal life" and won't be making a ton of official engagements during the next year. The reasons for this somewhat low profile approach are myriad. One is William, still contemptuous of the press after his mother's death, is not eager to assume the role of lead PR pitchman for the royals -- and has made that clear to all involved -- although he has filled in for his grandmother when the occasion calls for him to step in and support of one of the many charities patronized by the British royals. The other rationale is that the decision has been made behind the palace walls to carefully dole out access to William and Catherine in such a way that satisfies public interest but does not create a media superstar (a la Princess Diana) that overshadows the rest of the family. William and his bride will attend the Trooping of the Colour next month (June 11 -- the Queen's official birthday) and have previously announced an eight-day trip to Canada in July which will also include a two-day stop in Los Angeles. Some time after that, William will be leaving on a ten-week training exercise in the Falkland Isles leaving Catherine at home (or more likely visiting with her parents in London which is sure to bring out the flashbulbs). Kate will not, according to the palace, be undertaking any royal appearances on her own. Look for the tabloids to make hay with the couple's first "separation."

So there you have it. That's the latest on the royals right now. Look for the next installment of The Royal Watch coming next week!

Photo credits: Reuters,Getty Images

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

THE ROYAL WATCH Was Diana Murdered? A New Documentary Says It Was an 'Unlawful Killing'

If the British royal family thought the wedding of Prince William and his new bride would wash away the last remaining vestiges of controversy surrounding their treatment of Princess Diana they were very much mistaken.

Just as word comes that William and Catherine are blissfully enjoying their honeymoon, a new documentary unspooled at Cannes this weekend alleging that Princess Diana was murdered as the result of a plot that was hatched behind the walls of Buckingham Palace.

The film's premiere comes at a time when the royal family was likely breathing a sigh of relief that the public seems to have put the scandal-ridden Diana era behind them and embraced Prince William and Catherine as the hopeful, non-controversial future of the monarchy.

While the world is fascinated with the royal honeymooners it's plainly obvious the origins of our interest lie in the couple's connection to Diana. Their story is the next chapter in her story -- the one that was cut short when she died on that fateful summer night in 1997.

The wedding was indeed the fairy tale spectacular that the public -- and the royal family -- had hoped for. The royal couple, who did not seem all that fascinating during their engagement, completely captivated us for their wedding. A new, blessedly scandal-free chapter on the British royals had begun.

Not so fast.

The debut of director Keith Allen's (father of pop singer Lily) controversial documentary, Unlawful Killing, which raises the issue that Diana's death may not have been an accident but may, in fact, have been murder, brings Diana back into the forefront reminding everyone that the most sensational figure of Britain's royal family does not have be alive to be the most compelling figure of the group.

The truth is she is even more fascinating in death than she likely would have been in life at this particular time. If she lived, chances are Diana either would have been living abroad (she had been looking at houses in California the summer she died) and settled into a life focusing on her charitable causes or she would have made some spectacularly bad choices (like a marriage to someone like Dodi) which would have prevented her from having much regular contact with the royals. Her strong relationship with her sons, particularly William, would have prevented total banishment but either way, she would not be the beloved icon she is today had she lived. That kind of reverence is reserved for those who die an untimely, tragic death at the peak of their promise and beauty.

Which of course, she did.

Unlawful Killing brings it all back. Those frenetic last few days spent in Paris. (I've always wondered what she was thinking -- what wealthy person that has everything at their disposal goes to Paris in August?) The unlikely romance that seemed to bloom out of nowhere since Diana was madly in love with Pakistani heart surgeon Sr. Hasnat Khan up until the minute she met Dodi. That fateful night at the Ritz where the couple inexplicably decided to leave the security of the hotel despite the presence of the scrum of paparazzi who were waiting to follow them into the night.

The documentary resurrects all the details about the night that still leave many people with the uneasy feeling that the truth about what really happened has yet to be uncovered.

While the film reexamines the questions surrounding what happened that night it also raises others about the intent behind the film. Mohamed Al Fayed, father of Dodi Fayed, who was killed with Diana and has long claimed that both his son and Diana were victims of a nefarious plot headed by Prince Philip, is the film's producer. In it, he is depicted as a man dealing with such profound grief that he can not sleep in any of his mansions preferring to live in a tent near Dodi's grave. His claims that the couple was killed because they intended to marry and the English establishment would not allow the mother of the future king of England to marry a Muslim are given another airing and the portrait that emerges of him is of a man profoundly mired in his own emotions and understandably devastated by what's happened.

Allen weaves the most sensational details already revealed around Diana's death into the film's narrative including:

In 1993, Diana wrote a letter to a friend predicting her own death would occur as a result of a car accident "clearing the away" for Prince Charles to marry. She also gave a letter to her then butler Paul Burrell to be opened in the event of her death which stated if she died under suspicious circumstances her ex husband should be held responsible.

Numerous friends including former British tabloid editor Piers Morgan are interviewed in the film giving their reasons as to why her death may not have been an accident.

One of the most unsettling details about the events surrounding her death is also re-examined. On the night of the crash, all of the cameras in the tunnel, which are ordinarily on 24/7, were turned off.

The official inquest, longest and most expensive in British history, concluded the deaths of Diana and Dodi to be the result of a drunk driver. Their chauffeur that night Henri Paul, who was also killed, reportedly had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit. Allen's point in making the film is: How can a judicial body called the Royal Court of Justice be trusted to tell the truth about the event which involved the most problematic ex-member of their family?

More than anything else, the film is a reminder of a very dark time in the history of the British royal family when the world saw how the fairy tale (that never was) turned into a horror story once the world's favorite royal was banished and left to flounder outside without the protection of their inner circle. Looking back on those months leading up to her death, Diana clearly was on a collision course with fate and one way or another was going to ignite a controversy for the family that wasn't going to be easily resolved. Stripped of her HRH title and having to navigate the difficulties of sharing her young sons with Prince Charles, Diana was left to forge a life for herself for the first time since she was a teenager. There is no doubt she made some bad choices that summer. How directly they led to her death remains a question that I think will never be satisfactorily answered for some royal watchers.

A few weeks ago, we all believed in fairy tales -- at least for a few hours when we saw Diana's son walk down the aisle of the same cathedral where the world had witnessed her funeral. We saw her son marry for love, not duty. We imagined how proud she would have been. We saw another young woman walk into the church an outsider and walk out a royal. Would Diana have approved? How would she have felt about sharing the spotlight? Would she have had a new husband to stand with opposite Charles and Camilla? After causing such controversy with her divorce from Charles, would the family have made peace with her?

"Unlawful Killing" will clearly benefit from our collective renewed interest in the British royals which in and of itself feels more than a little opportunistic. It is no coincidence that its premiere at Cannes happened two weeks to the day after Prince William's and Catherine's wedding. Knowing how much William has struggled to live with the series events the culminated in the death of his mother and how much he wanted to make Diana a meaningful part of his engagement by giving Catherine her ring only engenders sympathy not suspicion for at least two members of the British royal family. It's hard to imagine that anyone living in Buckingham Palace would have a hand in anything that would bring such heartbreak to William and Harry.

But yet, the simple truth is everything is much easier for the royals without Diana. With her gone, no one is going rogue and telling tales from behind the palace walls. (Sarah Ferguson's sad attempts to trade what little ties she has left to the royals were simply the pathetic actions of a lost soul still looking for their approval -- she even told Oprah as much) As a result of Diana's death, Charles was able to marry Camilla just as Diana predicted. So, depending on what you believe her death was either the result of one of the most sinister plots ever carried out or an just incredible coincidence.

All I know is just when we thought we'd witnessed a fresh start for the British royals, Diana will not let us forget her. As she told Piers Morgan, she won't go quietly.

Here's a look at the trailer for the film:

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Ann Curry Named New Cohost of Today

This morning Meredith Vieira announced she will be leaving the Today show in June. Her replacement is long time Today show vet Ann Curry. I have known Ann since the mid nineties when I was covering Today for TV Guide. Besides being one of the best journalists out there, she is one of the warmest, most caring people I've ever met. It's great to see someone who has worked hard and dutifully hung in there finally get the recognition she has long deserved. I'm reposting a condensed version an interview I did for mediabistro with her a while back where she talks about her tenture on Today, how she felt about not getting the job when Katie Couric left and how she wound up with Angelina and Brad on her speed dial. Congrats Ann!

During her twelve year-long tenure at Today, Ann Curry has been game for anything the producers could dream up from climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro (she made it within striking distance of the top but had to turn back when her team began suffering the effects of altitude sickness) to bungee jumping off the landmark Transporter Bridge in England to raise money for charity. At the time, she said, “I was really thinking, ‘I hope this does some good.’ If you’re going to do something as crazy as that, you want some good to come out of it.”

While Curry has always good naturedly participated in Today show stunts like dressing up for Halloween and hot air ballooning into a viewer’s backyard, it is her deep desire to do “meaningful work” that has sustained her throughout her broadcast career. She’s never been content sitting prettily behind the anchor chair reading the news. Curry is much more at home reporting from Baghdad, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Rwanda and Darfur among other global hot spots. Earlier this year, she traveled to Iran when she landed the first interview with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after the June elections on the eve of his visit to the United Nations. She was the first network news anchor to report from war-torn Kosovo, the first on the ground from the Southeast Asia tsunami zone and the first to document the genocide in Darfur. While hard news is Curry’s “first love,” she’s also managed to land the big celebrity gets, too. When Brangelina was sequestered in Africa preparing for the birth of their twins, Angelina Jolie spoke only to Curry.

The self-described “army brat” and eldest of five children born to a Japanese mother and Caucasian father was the first in her family to graduate from college and still marvels that she landed on Today. “I never imagined that anyone who looked like me would have a place here.” But she makes no bones about what it takes to stay there. “I’ve come to a point where I’ve gained a terrific opportunity to do the work that means the most to me and the work, in the end, I’ll always be grateful I did. I work really, really hard,” says Curry. “

Name: Ann Curry

Position: News anchor Today; anchor Dateline NBC

Resume: Joined NBC News in August 1990 as Chicago-based correspondent; named anchor of NBC News at Sunrise in 1992. Helped launch MSNBC and joined Today in March 1997 and was named co-anchor of Dateline NBC in May 2005. Substitute anchor on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Prior to coming to NBC, worked as a reporter for KCBS in Los Angeles and as reporter/anchor for KGW, the NBC affiliate in Portland, Oregon. Began her television career as an intern in 1978 at KTVL in Medford, Oregon where she became the station’s first female news reporter.

Birthdate: November 19

Hometown: “I grew up all over the world, but we ended up in Ashland, Oregon and I still consider it my home town.”

Education: University of Oregon, BA Journalism

Marital status: Married to software entrepreneur Brian Ross; two children daughter MacKenzie and son Walker.

First section of the Sunday Times: “The Front Page”

Favorite television show: “The Office. I love Steve Carell. I like House as well.”

Guilty pleasure: “Sometimes I feel guilty about going to yoga. Like a lot of people in this world at this time, to take time out to exercise, breathe and think about your own health makes you feel guilty. But it’s what you should be doing all the time. I often feel guilty thinking, ‘I should be home.’ I’ve organized it so I can take a yoga class and still get home in time for dinner. But even then, I still feel a little guilty.”

You’ve been at NBC for nineteen years – coming up on thirteen with Today. What is the secret to your longevity?

There are two things. I aspire to be valuable. I try not to lean on too many other people. I try not to have other people do my work. The other thing is trying to keep a sense of humility and trying to always remember to be grateful for this opportunity and proceed in that way. Having that humility can help you. It can certainly stop you from getting too full of yourself.

Which is all too rare in this business.

It is. The loss of humility is a disease of this profession for a lot of reasons. I don’t want to catch that disease.

You’ve been part of the mix of so many different personalities on Today. How has that affected the way you do your job?

I’ve been grateful to have the ear of the managers of this network who have trusted me to do the stories that I am most proud of. That’s not the work that involves sitting on any couch or being in front of a camera on a live broadcast. It’s about being in the field. That’s really something I intend to continue to pursue. This was not something I ever figured out how to do when I first began at NBC and the Today show. But I’ve figured it out and it’s working so far.

I can work on the nightly news broadcast, the Today show, MSNBC and msnbc.com and I’m still exploring ways of getting information out. I’m a serious photographer now and it’s another way of getting the story out. That’s my motivation – to get these voices heard and get these stories out because I know they’re important to do.

Did you want Katie Couric’s job when she left? If you had gotten it, it’s unlikely you would have been able to do the type of work you just described.

I did think about that job. The one great thing about that job is you have the opportunity to interview newsmakers and have access to major stories. I would have been a fool to not want that job, but the thing about life is that sometimes not getting what you think you want has a silver lining. Had I gotten that job I might never have been able to go to Darfur four times. I might never have gotten to do what some have said was a transformation hour on Iran and the interview with Ahmadinejad or gone to Congo and brought attention to the crimes against women there. That’s just the short list.

I think people are often disappointed by not getting exactly what they want. I think the secret is keep your eyes open and not to blink because you need to see that what is possible is something you may not being paying attention to. This road I’m on has been so deeply rewarding. I realize I’m in an unlikely and incredibly lucky position to be able to get this work done because of people like Jim Bell, Bob Epstein, Steve Cappus and Alex Wallace have really let me do all this stuff. It’s interesting that you sometimes get a chance to do exactly what you should be doing because you didn’t get what you wanted. I would have loved that job and I would have relished it, but you’re right, I wouldn’t have been able to do this other work.

When we did an interview back when the Today show was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, the headline from the interview was ‘I want you to care.’ That seems to sum up so many of the stories you’ve done from Kosovo to Darfur. Would you say that’s what drives you?

Absolutely. I believe that our job as journalists is to work for the future. I believe journalism is an act of faith in the future. I believe if do our jobs with the pure motive to inform people so that they can have power over their lives, the world will be better. It’s not for me to say how or how much, but if it’s only a little that’s enough. It’s not about us anymore. It’s about our children and what they’re going to inherit. I think we all have an obligation to step it up a notch and leave them a better place.

You have personally witnessed so much of the devastation the world has seen in the past decade both natural and man made. Is there one event that you could say has affected you the deepest?

It’s difficult for me to compare them. Kosovo was the first one where I recognized there was nothing I could do to stop what I was witnessing. I will say I’m proud to say that our reporting in Kosovo was an early part of the wave that did bring change. It was transformative to see these people stuck in these camps crying without food or milk for their babies. In Darfur, I was face to face with an elderly woman who tried to save her husband from the burning house where a thatched roof fell on top of him. He was an invalid and she was in her eighties. I found her in a hospital a few days later with her whole body covered in third degree burns and her husband was dead. How do you compare that to anything? When I went to Congo I met a girl who saw her parents killed right in front of her and she ran away. She was caught by the same men who killed her parents and then chained up and raped for months. She became pregnant and when she delivered her baby, everything inside her was broken. I found her on an operating table having surgery so she could go to the bathroom normally. When I asked her if she wanted revenge she said to me, ‘All I want is to rise from this bed and thank the people who helped me and work for God.’

I see all of these events as one. That’s the one thing I’ve come away with – I recognize that every one of those lives matter. There is no life that is less precious than another. There is no culture that is less important than another, and when we allow these kinds of crimes against humanity to continue, we are hurting our human family.

In addition to doing so many important stories, you’ve also managed to get unprecedented access to the tabloid couple of the decade having scored a number of exclusives with both Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Talk to me about your relationship with them separately and as a couple. How did you establish such a good rapport with the both of them?

I think it’s based on mutual respect. I first interviewed Angelina a long, long time ago when she was first emerging as an actress. Even then I could see the depth of her wish to be useful. A lot people didn’t see her for who she was, but because I had this opportunity to sit and talk to her I could see she was far more than people realized. I really don’t know why we were able to hit it off except that I have a lot of respect for her work and I think she might have some respect for mine.

Did you find that she knew a lot about you when you met?

Not the first time I interviewed her, but certainly in subsequent interviews it was clear that she knew about my efforts. As she became a force for humanitarian work, I understood her efforts and motivation and my respect grew for her as well. Brad is very much like that as well. He has got a sense of altruism and a sense of justice. He’s really old fashioned and delightful. Maybe it’s a surprise to some people, but he’s serious about the injustice that has lingered for so many people in New Orleans. He’s not only talked about it but he’s done something about it. Some people actually want to elect him mayor although he’s not planning to run. I respect that. I respect people who stand up for what they believe in and do something.
I think they are people who get it.

It’s fascinating that you know them in such a different context from their separate tabloid personas.

I think it’s hand in glove, though. It’s because of their celebrity that they can make the movies which then in turn allow them to give money and do these good works. They have been pioneers creating that kind of trail from celebrity to altruism.

Speaking of celebrity, Today has always mined the lives of the show’s key players in such a way to connect to the audience on a personal level with segments on your family lives and background. Have you grown more comfortable with that over the years?

I’m a little more comfortable, but I still am pretty largely uncomfortable with stories about us because I think the story should be on everybody else but us. I recognize that there is an interest. The first time we did it, the response was so enormous. It was surprising because people responded not just to us, but about how they felt about their own experience through us. That’s made me feel a little more comfortable. If someone can feel something about his or her parents because you’ve been honest about your own experience about losing a parent – if you can help them in their grief – then that has value. I think that the broadcast is a soup-to-dessert broadcast. It’s going to have all that stuff, but balance is the key.

Has any of that affected the way you do your job?

I just did an interview with a woman who is dying of breast cancer and for the first few moments she said, ‘I just can’t believe I’m actually sitting with you.’ I didn’t take me that long, but it did take me a minute to have her stop thinking about that and start thinking about what I really wanted to talk to her about. That’s not good. It was an interesting kind of situation, but I don’t want it to bleed over into the work and I struggle against that.

On a happier note, you’ve got two kids and a demanding job. So many women are juggling so much especially these days. How have you made it work for you?

I finally came to the conclusion that doing a good job at work is taking care of my kids. When I’m at work, I work one hundred percent and when I go home, I work one hundred percent. I don’t think about work. I don’t worry about work unless there’s a crisis. I really do put down the Blackberry especially on the weekends. But more important than any kind of juggling is love: expressing it to your children, talking to your children and playing with your children. If I had to choose between paying my bills, cleaning the kitchen, making dinner or talking to my kids, it would be the latter. Prioritizing your emotional relationships with your family is the most important thing you can do. You can’t get everything done. The thing you can’t not get done is being connected in an emotional way with your husband and your children. Everything else you can do later. I procrastinate on almost everything else. (Laughs)

So what do you do to decompress?

Photography has really helped me decompress because it makes you look at things differently. It can sweep you away. The other thing I’m starting to do when the kids are in school on Fridays instead of going to lunch is to go to with a girlfriend to an art museum. I love art. When the kids were born I couldn’t go very often and as they grew up they didn’t really want to go. I love looking at paintings and looking at art. I have yoga, art and photography. That’s a lot.

It beats retail therapy.

I used to do that. I find that retail is not therapy anymore because I feel bad buying for myself. Shopping your closet is pretty good. I’m amazed at what I can put together, but I guess the viewers should be the judge of that. (Laughs)

How would you say you’ve gotten to where you are?

I don’t know. I’m as surprised as anyone. If I can get to where I am, anyone can. I’m the girl who wasn’t even supposed to go to college raised by a woman with a thick immigrant’s accent and grew up mispronouncing words as a result. How the hell did I get on national television? I want so much to be a journalist that meets the needs of this time. I keep trying to be good enough and I think it’s the effort. I’m never satisfied.

Do you have a motto?
Be of service and help people. Always.

A longer version of this interview originally appeared on mediabistro.com in December 2009.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

THE ROYAL WATCH: The (Media) Honeymoon is Over

That was fast. It took barely a week for the royal newlywed formerly known as Kate Middleton to go from princess bride gliding down the aisle at Westminster to posh housewife perusing the pizzas in the frozen food aisle in her local supermarket.

The front pages of the British tabloids published on Friday morning boasted several pictures of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, navigating a shopping cart in Anglesey, North Wales where she and Prince William live with snickering headlines ("Kate's back up the aisle" snarked The Daily Mail). In skinny jeans paired with ballet flats and ruffled wrap over her white t-shirt, her enormous 12-carat sapphire engagemment ring was the only totem of her newly 'royal' life in evidence. Unless, of course, you count the five royal protection officers that accompanied her on her errands. (She did drive herself to the market in her Audi A3)

I, for one (make that two if you count Queen Elizabeth, I'm betting) am not amused.

Let me explain: Last week when I speculated as to why the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have reignited royal watchers' fascination with the British royals I made the case that the newlyweds embody a sense of tradition and tastefulness sadly lacking in the celebrity stratosphere. And, let's face it, the over the top fairy tale element of seeing a "commoner" marry into royalty and imagine all that comes with it has made Catherine a pretty compelling figure.

Having said that, I do not want to see her picture in the pages of Us Weekly splashed across the 'Stars Just Like Us!' feature. For me, and I suspect for millions of others like me, the reason I am interested in Catherine is because her life is nothing like mine. She is not just 'like us' and not amount of photos of her hauling grocery bags into the back seat of her car is going to prove otherwise.

Celebrity journalism (and I use that term loosely) is completely schizophrenic these days. The same outlets that breathlessly anointed Catherine as a modern day Cinderella last Friday are the same ones that are now lying in wait for that photo of the duchess looking bedraggled taking out the trash. They are also trying to drum up whatever traction they can from the non-story that Catherine's sister Pippa was photographed 'dancing in her underwear' with a similarly clad fellow once upon a time. Nice try but a) the picture was taken in 2008 and b) she's wearing more than Kim Kardashian does every time she hits the red carpet in the photo in what looks to be a bra top and skirt. Have we grown so cynical in the media that we can't possibly believe that people want to focus on the positive about a person for more than five minutes? In order to feel good about our own lives do we really have to tear down the very same people who we looked up to five minutes before?

I am so sick of the trashiness, banality and negativity that fuels the celebrity media complex. I am equally tired of non-stories that consist of a large photo and three sentences that basically recount where a 'star' has been and what she wore end with the question: "Hot or not?" Just because the Internet exists in a limitless space doesn't mean we have to fill it with absolute nonsense every minute of every day in order to keep the masses entertained.

I do not begrudge Catherine and William their attempt at living "a normal life" -- whatever that means if you are the future king and queen of England. I think it's kind of charming that they decided against having servants. Mark my words, that will change the minute their first child is born. At least they are doing it out of London where the press, who gave William a pass for some many years, are revved up to cover every detail of the couple's daily life. It's curious to see that for everything that William saw transpire in his mother's life as she, too, attempted to live a "normal existence" --especially after her divorce from Prince Charles -- that he would opt go this route. Surely, when the couple is expecting the frenzy surrounding the 'royal bump watch' will keep Catherine largely away from such everyday venues as the local market or shopping on London's high street for fear that the paparazzi will be in overdrive. If William and Catherine are thinking that by being (somewhat) accessible they are de-clawing the beast, they are very,very wrong.

Last Friday, Catherine proved herself to be capable of acting more royal than a lot of the royals themselves. She was flawless not only in her appearance but in her demeanor which was equal parts dignity and delight. Her family, having endured endless sniping in the press about being strivers and nouveau riche, "didn't put a foot wrong" -- as the Brits like to say.

But how will they hold up under the 24/7 microscope they are now living under? The pressure must be enormous. For Catherine, who has been schooled by the royal handlers and William himself about just how difficult life can be, there will be a learning curve that is sure to have some bumps along the way. As much as we think she is up to the job, the realization that your every move is now being documented and instantaneously broadcast around the world must be quite stunning.

So, while the couple have yet to go on their honeymoon, it's clear the one they had with the press is now over in record time. And that's too bad for them -- and for us.

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