But when it came to drugs, the cons began to outweigh the pros. Gardner was becoming an addict -- and that caused him to miss one of the biggest gossip stories of 2005: the break-up of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt.
At the time, he said, "I was at a house above Sunset Boulevard, Sunset Plaza, stowed away doing drugs for two days straight."
Gardner unraveled: He wasn't paying bills and he was skipping work. Partying, friends said, had taken over his life.
It finally caught up to him as he headed to an important assignment: covering an Emmy Awards party. Police pulled him over and threw him in jail for unpaid parking tickets.
He missed the party and the Emmy Awards ceremony ... and then lost his job.
"I got out of jail on Monday and my editor called me into her office immediately and she was just like, 'This was really bad. You're the insider gossip columnist, and you missed our Emmy party. How could you do this?'"
But if you think that was when Gardner hit rock bottom, you'd be wrong.
His talent and celebrity access kept landing him jobs, including a position as a film reporter at Daily Variety. An assignment for the publication landed him at a Mariah Carey music video shoot at midnight.
Then things got hazy.
"I think I had done a lot of coke in the car before I went inside to watch this video shoot and then I came home at 5 in the morning and there was a party still going on in my apartment for afterhours and so I just joined right in," Gardner remembered.
During that afterhours party, Gardner said, he blacked out.
His twin brother, who shared the apartment with him, woke him up the next morning.
"He said, 'You were outside smoking a cigarette on the patio and you fell through the glass doors. The glass broke and you started having a seizure. And you overdosed," Gardner said.
A few weeks later, Gardner headed back home to Iowa.
"I thought, 'I don't really want to be here anymore'...I just kind of had given up,'" he said. "I went home with my tail between my legs."
But Gardner wasn't done with Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard for good.