Comics : Star

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Al Observes

This review was first published on: Feb 2012.

Background...

Nicole and Spider-Man Red-Hot Romance!

No self-respecting Spider-Man fan could pass up that headline. I couldn’t, at least, when I saw it on the front of the tabloid rag called the Star (“The #1 Celebrity News Magazine”) as I stood in the supermarket check-out lane 10 years ago. It is even cover-dated with my birthday! Sold! The picture shows, as the caption states, “Nicole Kidman with Spider-Man star Tobey Maguire” both looking very dressed down and out for a stroll. Both are smiling and Tobey has his left arm crossing his body and grabbing onto Nicole’s coat. Very suggestive. And just in case you don’t get that Tobey is the Spider-Man referred to in the “red-hot romance,” there’s an inset photo of Spider-Man’s head right next to Tobey’s head with a yellow triangle serving as an arrow pointing to Tobey’s head. Other cover headlines are, “Trisha Yearwood’s Outraged Ex Tells Pals: Garth Brooks Stole My Wife,” which sounds like a big ho-hum, “Sally Jessy Uncensored!” for anyone who remembers who Sally Jessy Raphael is, and “Backstreet Boy Back on Booze,” who I don’t recognize even after looking up his name inside the magazine. So, clearly, the Nicole-Spidey story is the cream of the issue. Let’s page through the magazine and see what we see.

In Detail...

"Nicole Caught in Spider-Man's Web of Love"
Star
May 2002 : SM Article
Summary: Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire, Nicole Kidman on Cover
Editor:  Jim Lynch
Article Writer:  Martin Gould
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Review

I’m not much for celebrity worship, particularly ten-year-old celebrity worship, but I’ll see if I can pick out some highlights. Here’s a photo of George Hamilton (remember him?) called the “Man of Tan” posing next to a Superman statue “at a Sharper Image store in Manhattan” which is a nice comic book-related moment but is probably more interesting now because there are no Sharper Image stores in which to pose. Actually, a lot of the appeal of this issue is the realization of how fleeting fame can be. Here’s a photo spread of celebs at the Kentucky Derby featuring Dixie Carter, Jean Smart, Ivana Trump, Melissa Joan Hart, Jason Alexander, Bo Derek, Jessica Simpson, Dennis Hopper, and “Puff Daddy.” Let’s scan some other headlines: “How Debra Messing Fooled Hollywood with Wonderbra,” “Val Kilmer: I’m Not the Bad Guy Everybody Thinks I Am,” “Johnny Depp: I Gave Up Drugs to Be a Dad,” and “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Michelle Pfeiffer” (#8 Michelle’s great desire is to see her late father in heaven.)

Page 20 brings us the article we’re looking for. “Nicole Caught in Spider-Man’s Web of Love.” There are four pictures of Tobey with Nicole (but one is the same shot as the cover). In one, Tobey is helping Nicole into a car and there are what appear to be two mostly-obscured hearts behind their heads. They could be neon hearts on a storefront, fortuitously placed or…they could be photoshopped in by the magazine. There is also a photo of Tobey with Kirsten Dunst at the Oscars. (Caption: “Tobey had a romance with onscreen lover Kirsten Dunst during the making of Spider-Man, but it ended when filming did.”) And a photo of Spidey from the movie. (Below that, the caption, “Tobey Maguire romancing Tom Cruise’s ex.”)

The article itself is, not surprisingly, much ado about nothing, complete with breathless quotes from anonymous sources. Apparently, Nicole “broke off from filming in Canada to rush home for a romantic weekend with the hot young hunk.” They were seen at A Votre Sante restaurant. “It’s the sort of place where you might go if you don’t want anyone to bother you,” says one “regular,” but apparently it doesn’t stop the diners from spying and then blabbing to the Star. “An eyewitness says that Tobey and Nicole chatted and flirted with each other over their late breakfast, long after most of the rest of L.A. had gone to work.” Since we know that Nicole and Tobey don’t have to go to work, I’m not sure why the last part is mentioned, except to imply, perhaps, that these are rich, pampered movie stars who live much better lives than you poor slobs who buy this magazine. The article then quotes several eyewitnesses willing to pronounce a romance just from watching the couple leave the restaurant. “[T]hey had that look of love all over them…This looked like a couple who were starting out on a hot romance.” And so on. More proof? Well, “The following afternoon, the coosome twosome (yes, you read that right) were seen leaving his Hollywood house, with him behind the wheel to take her to her home in Pacific Palisades. And to complete their three-day love session, Maguire and Kidman were together at his home again the next day. And again he dropped her off at her home the following afternoon.” And…that’s…it. Notice how the time gaps (and comments like “three-day love session”) imply that she spent the night both times but, if she had, I’m pretty sure they would have come out and said that. The rest of the article recounts previous, equally unsubstantiated romances that Nicole has had. Why we should suddenly believe this one rather than those is anybody’s guess. But, hey, one “friend” says, “Tobey and Nicole have become good friends over the last couple of months. They have gone out together, more as friends than lovers. Now, though, it looks like their relationship has progressed beyond that. Everyone who knows either of them will be delighted.” Well, that’s good enough for me!

So, that’s how you concoct a gossip rag cover story out of nothing. Pretty impressive, really, but not as impressive as the story entitled “Secrets of Hollywood’s Love Goddesses” that spotlights the four deceased starlets, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Joan Crawford, and Jean Harlow. I mean, Jean Harlow has been dead since 1937 and she’s still grist for the scandal rag mill. That’s impressive.

Next to that article is a story with my favorite headline: “ER’s Noah Wyle to Deliver Own Baby!” As far as I can tell, this didn’t happen.

There’s one other spider-related story here: “GL Beauty: My Spider-Bite Nightmare.” The “GL” doesn’t stand for “Green Lantern” but for “Guiding Light,” a soap opera. Actress Crystal Chappell was bitten on the forehead by a brown recluse spider that was hidden in her hat. “It hurt!” she says, “It took a big chunk out of me.” A week later (yes, it took a week), “I got pock marks and the bridge of my nose and eyes got all swollen like I’d been in a car accident.” She went to the hospital where doctors diagnosed the cause and treated her with steroids but could do nothing for the scar. “Fortunately for me, the bite is on my forehead, so I can wear bangs to cover it and continue working,” she says, “Otherwise I would have had a career change, probably. It could have been worse.” You can say that again, Crystal!

One final headline highlighting how fleeting fame is: “Diet Coke hunk romances JAG beauty.” Even after reading the article, I have no idea who these people are but as far as I can tell, this romance did not pan out. This could have had something to do with it: “I’d like five children,” he tells Star, “I want kids so bad.” Then his mom gets involved! “If he wants a new wife and five kids, I guess I’ll have five grandkids,” she says. Yeah, sign me up for that relationship.

In General...

So, how do you rate something like this? The absurdity factor? The ridiculousness factor? The obscure-celebrity-nostalgia factor? The articles make the most of practically nothing. The one with Jean Harlow in it regurgitates gossip from 70 years ago. You’ve got to give them points for that. But the whole thing feels so insubstantial, like its sly insinuations of Nicole and Tobey’s relationship or the Diet Coke hunk’s desire for five kids were silly and passé one week after publication. I can’t imagine anyone hanging onto these issues for very long or that insubstantiality would become increasingly apparent. So, if you suddenly decide you need this in your Spidey collection, good luck to you. I’m not sure you’ll find it. If it makes you feel any better, you don’t need this. You really don’t need this.

Overall Rating...

But, yeah, let’s face it, it’s an amusing read. I’ll give it two webs.