INSIDE PEOPLE by Judy Kessler


The Stories Behind the Stories
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 A lively, fast-paced account of the first 20 years of People magazine, from former People staff writer and author Kessler (Inside Today, 1992). In March 1974, when People brought out its first issue--with Mia Farrow on the cover and lots of white space and short text inside--staffers at Time, Inc., joked that the entire publication could be devoured, cover to cover, on the ride down the elevator from the 29th floor, where People's editorial offices were housed. Two decades later, People's unique brand of confessional journalism has been featured in TV talk shows and magazines around the country. In addictive, People-like prose, Kessler narrates the rise of the ``queen mother of personality journalism.'' Covered are Kessler's own disastrous interview with Danny Kaye when he insulted the Canadian head of UNICEF, spewing obscene and unprintable remarks; Harry Benson's photo session at Attica Prison with John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman; the Gary Hart-Donna Rice affair in which People pays Rice's sleazy friend, Lynn Armandt, $150,000 for her photos of Hart and Rice aboard the ``Monkey Business''; and the poignant saga of AIDS victim Ryan White and People's role in creating a celebrity of the teenager and extending his life a good five years. What Kessler fails to address, however, is the larger question of why so many people are so eager to confess the intimate details of their lives to the world. Why is Princess Di willing to appear on the cover of People over 50 times (more than any other cover subject in the magazine's history) and tell the hoi polloi about her rotten marriage, suicide attempts, battles with anorexia, etc? And why do we People readers--at last count, one out of ten Americans--hunger so shamelessly for news of Di and Charles, Liz and Larry, Julia and Lyle, or Burt and Loni? An entertaining yarn for the People mavens, but not for those in search of serious commentary on American culture. (16 pages b&w photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: March 7th, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-42186-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1994