Gossip Mongers Battle Over Sex and Violence in 'Tabloid Wars'


July 24, 2006 — -- Hungry for sex, lurid crime and stories of celebrities doing what they do best -- embarrassing themselves? Bravo takes an inside look at the bloodthirsty battle for lurid headlines in "Tabloid Wars," a six-part reality-TV style documentary on the inner workings of the New York Daily News.

"The premise is how we put out the paper every day … what we go through ... daily ... to chase down stories, whether they be a helicopter splashing down in the East River or a celebrity story or a cop getting shot … and the pressure and what goes into getting the story in the paper before the first deadline, says metropolitan editor Gregory Gittrich.

The documentary, filmed last summer, is, in many ways, a paean to the race between daily newspapers, of which New York City has several. The Daily News often goes head-to-head with rival tabloid the New York Post.

"The biggest concern was that it was going to be a reality show, which none of us wanted any part of," said Gittrich. "So, once we were comfortable that it was going to essentially be a documentary, generally there was a sense we would do it."

In the first episode, airing tonight at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo, Daily News city reporter Kerry Burke races against the paper's 10:30 p.m. deadline to cover a brutal Howard Beach beating that leaves three men hospitalized as editor in chief Michael Cooke worries that the story will stir up race issues.

Burke, 43, speaks of life on the murder-and-mayhem beat, and he later investigates a tip that one of Robert De Niro's employees is stealing his wife's jewelry. Burke is assisted by crime reporter Tony Sclafani, who also investigates a report that actor Christian Slater may face charges for pinching a woman on the behind.

Viewers will also hear how married gossip columnists George Rush and Joanna Molloy balance work and family life. When their son suffers an injury, Molloy cares for the boy while Rush covers a Gotti family event.

"Working for a newspaper, you can't simply print any rumor, the way you can on a blog," Malloy says. "And in a way, the Internet has made our job harder, because you're battling a million gossip columnists.

"I mean, pretty much anyone today can have their own gossip column on the Internet and not have anyone stop them."

ABC News Radio contributed to this report.

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