Tina Brown's Must-Reads: Celebrities Behaving Badly The editor of The Daily Beast gives her picks for the best reading on celebrity antics, from Tiger Woods to Roman Polanski.
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Tina Brown's Must-Reads: Celebrities Behaving Badly

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Tina Brown's Must-Reads: Celebrities Behaving Badly

Tina Brown's Must-Reads: Celebrities Behaving Badly

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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm Steve Inskeep.

If you like stories about famous people behaving badly, it's a good time to be alive. And we have some recommendations this morning in our segment, Word of Mouth. Tina Brown, editor of The Daily Beast, suggests reading we shouldn't miss.

So we're talking here about notoriety and about celebrities behaving badly. And you begin with an article about the choices that celebrities might make that would allow them to get away with such things or not.

Ms. TINA BROWN (Editor, The Daily Beast): Absolutely. Well, of course, you know, this is the season for celebrities behaving badly it seems. So I thought I'd obviously have to begin with Tiger Woods, because on The Daily Beast the former call girl Tracy Quan offers extramarital dating advice to Woods from one top ranked professional to another.

Her view is that Tiger's biggest mistake was dallying with amateurs who didn't subscribe to the call-girl code of protecting, above all, her client's secrecy.

INSKEEP: Like journalists protecting their sources, so to speak.

Ms. BROWN: Exactly right. I mean, she makes a really quite valid point that Ashley Dupre, the prostitute who was exposed when the former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was busted, she never actually offered him up to anybody until the time came when the press and law enforcement blew the whole thing wide open. Before that she'd protected his secrecy like the state's secrets.

INSKEEP: And so the advice here that's being given to famous people who want to misbehave, is go deal with a profession rather than someone who will get emotionally involved and get angry at you later?

Ms. BROWN: Yes, absolutely. She really accuses Tiger of vanity. She says that, you know, he was a fool to trust these women, because for them it wasn't a business arrangement. It was all about having a dream, a dream of moving up and being arm candy to a celeb. And, of course, once one girl, you know, is exposed, then all of them come out of the woodwork.

INSKEEP: You have also sent us an article from your former magazine, the New Yorker, "Annals of Law: The Celebrity Defense" by Jeffrey Toobin.

Ms. BROWN: Jeff Toobin is a wonderful writer, but this piece I think is one of his best on Roman Polanski, because he very coolly dissects the impact that celebrity has had on the vicissitudes of Polanski's whole course with the law in the last 33 years.

The rape the he's accused of, of course, took place in the late '70s. He skipped the country, went to live in France and ever since, of course, has been trying to come back to the United States without facing justice. And he was only recently apprehended, as we know, in Switzerland, just a couple of months ago.

And the question really is why was he suddenly arrested after all this time. And Toobin makes the case, very persuasively, that he was only arrested because, in fact, for the first time he was getting close to having his whole sentence sort of repealed. It was because he was near to getting it actually concluded, that the D.A. decided it was time to arrest him before that happened.

What is fascinating, and that is what's so clever about Toobin's piece, is he shows how first, you know, celebrity really worked for Polanski. But then it turned against him, because basically antagonized the judge, who really himself was a big showboat. He allowed Polanski to go off and do a working assignment.

He went to - Polanski went off to Germany, and very unwisely he allowed himself to be photographed carousing one night in Munich during the Oktoberfest with a rather glamorous young woman. And that picture appeared in the papers, and that picture made the judge absolutely crazy - absolutely crazy. He felt that Polanski was flouting the judge's authority, and that really set him on the course for the second round, where, in fact, everything was really weighted against him. There's no doubt that probably, today, he would've been given a very light sentence and got out.

INSKEEP: So basically, the lesson here is that if you're a celebrity you can get special treatment as long as you keep it quiet?

Ms. BROWN: Very, very well put.

INSKEEP: Now, you do have another article here, that you call our attention to - CNNMoney.com. Why Kozlowski should get clemency. Dennis Kozlowski, remind us who he is.

Ms. BROWN: Well, Dennis Kozlowski was that wonderful kind of comic business fraud really, who was the CEO of Tyco. And seven years ago he was convicted for really, in a sense, looting his company. And he's been sent to jail, where he's been sitting moldering at the Mid-State Correctional Facility in upstate New York, really, for the last seven years. You've got an eight to 25-year sentence.

I mean, Kozlowski, I think, captured the public imagination because of the famous $6,000 shower curtain in his Manhattan apartment. And this writer David Kaplan says, compared to a lot of the villains we're seeing in the last sort of economic meltdown, it's almost as if Kozlowski is kind of a small fry.

I mean, he almost seems quaint. He was just a common old garden fraud looting money, nothing actually collapsed. You know, Tyco is still standing. So here's Kozlowski sitting moldering and Kaplan says maybe he should come out at this point.

INSKEEP: Because he's not as bad as certain bankers we can name?

Ms. BROWN: Because he's not as bad as certain bankers. I have to say that I think that seven years is enough time for Dennis. He's not going to hurt anybody. They should let him out.

INSKEEP: I wonder if this is another example of that double edge. While he was famous and powerful and seen as successful, he thought he could get away with anything, and he did for a while. But once he was caught and became this notorious poster child for corporate malfeasance, he was going to be harshly dealt with.

Ms. BROWN: Well, that's absolutely right. And it is so interesting here. This is the common thread between all these people who fall. It is this hubristic thing where they just feel they were above the law. I mean, it's so clear in the Polanski story, that he just really didn't feel that he was doing anything wrong, you know. He was just giving this girl Quaaludes. He was giving her champagne. And, of course, you know, then suddenly there's a moment of a reality check where they're confronted with the real world and they just can't handle it. Certainly true in Kozlowski's case, he really did think that it was going to go on forever.

And of course, with all these CEOs, they're surrounded by yes people all the time who just - they think that they can do anything and they all make the mistake of thinking that the D.A. is someone they can treat like their help. That's their mistake. It's certainly true in Polanski's case with the D.A., and it's certainly true, really, I think in Kozlowski's case. They always think they can blow off justice and, of course, they can't.

INSKEEP: Word of Mouth from Tina Brown. Tina, thanks very much.

Ms. BROWN: Thank you.

INSKEEP: You can find links to all the stories we just talked about at our website, npr.org.

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