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The Untold Story: My 20 Years Running the National Enquirerby Iain Calder
Synopses & Reviews
The flashing bulbs of the paparazzi. The iconic names: Liz, Michael Jackson, Jackie O, Jen and Brad. Americans are obsessed with the famous and the beautiful — their lives, loves, break-ups, and breakdowns. From Entertainment Tonight to People, from primetime to the E! channel, our appetite for celebrity news is seemingly insatiable. But in the beginning only the National Enquirer went boldly where other publications feared to tread.
In this no-holds-barred account of the most infamous tabloid in America, Iain Calder, its former editor-in-chief, tells all. Over the course of a career that spanned four decades, Calder brought the lurid newspaper to new heights, dramatically raising circulation by combining his streetwise journalist background with the genius of Enquirer publisher Generoso Pope, Jr.
Calder was born in a small village in Scotland, left school at sixteen, and rose through he ranks of the Glasgow newspapers. His intense work ethic, ruthless tricks to throw competitors off his scent, and nose for a story served him well, and he was tapped to head the Enquirer's London bureau. At that point, the lowly Enquirer was a collection of gory photos of car crashes and murder victims, but Calder corralled the best freelance journalists in Europe and started honing the formula that would transform the tabloid: a unique mix of celebrity scandal, hard-nosed reporting, and feel-good stories. Pope moved him to the American offices of the Enquirer, and the duo transformed the tabloid and, in the process, American journalism.
Calder exposes the stories behind the headlines and the wickedly intrepid Enquirer tactics for getting the scoops. With Calder at the helm, the National Enquirer ran the infamous shot of Gary Hart and Donna Rice and the record-breaking photo of Elvis in his coffin. And it was the New York Times that dubbed the Enquirer "the Bible" of the O.J. Simpson trial after reporters infiltrated O.J.'s inner circle. From the contents of Henry Kissinger's trash and the identity of John Belushi's drug dealer to Princess Grace's tragic death, the Enquirer told us what inquiring minds wanted to know as it took celebrity news from the back pages to the front pages and television screens of mainstream publications and programs.
Calder re-creates the exhilaration of being at the Enquirer during its most extraordinary period and details the way he and his staff broke the biggest exclusives of the day. At its core, The Untold Story is also a love letter from Calder to the glorious tabloid he helped create.
"On September 3, 2001, Newsweek stated, 'you could make the case that The Enquirer almost single-handedly created our celebrity culture.' Calder, executive editor of the topselling tabloid for 23 years, substantiates this claim with dozens of entertaining anecdotes about Elvis, Judy Garland, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Roseanne Barr, Donald Trump, Oprah, O.J. Simpson and Carol Burnett (the only star to win a lawsuit against the publication during Calder's tenure). The refreshing surprise here is that Calder's own tale of his rise and reign proves just as compelling as his superstar portrayals. Born in a coal-mining Scottish town, Calder became a 'young kamikaze' journalist at 16. He worked under Gene Pope, a visionary who never took no for an answer, called presidents without hesitation and demanded total courage from his staff. Unlike many Enquirer employees, Calder flourished under Pope's pressure, developing a network of contacts, and infiltrated the unions and business affairs offices of major networks, studios and agents. He takes great pride in his paper's research, fact checking and overall accuracy. The book is a compulsive page-turner, like the tabloid it describes, written in clear, conversational style. It offers valuable psychological tools and blunt reality about coming up through the trenches and discovering the secrets they don't teach you in journalism school. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The Untold Story would not be worth telling if it were just a litany of Enquirer grave-robbing exclusives...but this book earns a legitimate, if small, place in journalism's history..." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"The book is a compulsive page-turner...written in clear, conversational style. It offers valuable psychological tools and blunt reality about coming up through the trenches and discovering the secrets they don't teach you in journalism school." Publishers Weekly
"[A] zippy memoir....If the National Enquirer is where reporters go to die, it must be America's most exciting retirement community." Kirkus Reviews
"[B]riskly written...as pithy as a National Enquirer article....The best part of this account, of course, is Calder's guided tour of the Enquirer's Hall of Fame....But Calder also takes pains to stress the Enquirer's legitimate good works..." Booklist
"Calder makes good points about the Enquirer's revolutionizing effect on the news industry and the uneasy complicity it forged between celebrities and journalists. Nonetheless, his reminiscences tend to showcase his starstruck side." The New Yorker
"It takes a heap of chutzpah to write an autobiography unless you're a president or a first lady or a serious achiever. Most media moguls don't qualify, Iain Calder among them. Still, there's reason not to dismiss his effort out of hand." Providence Journal
"Calder delivers precious little in the way of 'untold' inside poop about the Enquirer — and what he does deliver isn't interesting....Calder's memoir is occasionally amusing, infrequently revealing and surprisingly flat." Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World
"If nothing else, you might assume [it] would be juicy, salacious fun. Alas, you would be dead wrong....Calder...is an unimaginative, lazy writer." Bill Vourvoulias, Newsday
"If your inquiring mind wants a nuanced look at this controversial institution, look elsewhere. But if you enjoy a no-holds-barred seat at the rowdy table, pull up a chair. Calder's The Untold Story is worth reading." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Calder is a whiny, preachy, self-righteous, chest-thumping kind of regular guy....The book...is every bit as disposable as anything else in Calder's domain." San Francisco Chronicle
"Overall, this tell-all makes for a fun read....And with its insights into creative marketing and publishing practices, it is essential reading for budding journalists as well." Library Journal
The former editor-in-chief of the "National Enquirer" tells all--exposing the entertaining, edgy stories behind the most famous headlines and cover photos--in this no-holds-barred account of the most infamous tabloid in America.
About the Author
Iain Calder worked for The National Enquirer for over three decades and held the paper's senior editorial post for nearly twenty years. He lives in Boca Raton, Florida, where his greatest joy is his grandson, Harrison Alexander Iain Calder.
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