WASHINGTON • At first glance, the new memoir I'm Your Biggest Fan: Awkward Encounters And Assorted Misadventures In Celebrity Journalism just looks like a breezy collection of stories about Hollywood stars from People magazine executive editor Kate Coyne.
While that does describe the majority of the book, released last month, it also gets into the nitty-gritty of the tabloid world - from a look behind-the-scenes at the tawdry Page Six to just how far magazines will go to get a star on their cover.
Coyne mixes inside details with bizarre anecdotes about celebrities. There is no better example than her chapter on Tom Cruise, who is one of the most mystifying stars to cover as a journalist, from his erratic behaviour to the fact that talk shows are apparently banned from asking him about Scientology.
Coyne, a former entertainment editor for Good Housekeeping, writes how she interviewed him for a cover story during his press tour for Mission: Impossible III in 2006. It was less than a year after he argued with Today host Matt Lauer, criticised actress Brooke Shields for using anti-depressants and jumped on talk show host Oprah Winfrey's couch declaring his love for actress Katie Holmes.
Cruise was gracious and friendly, and the interview went smoothly. The weird part? Just how much Cruise's team monitored his press coverage. While Coyne was waiting for Cruise to show up, she spotted a tape recorder on a table of the room. As soon as Cruise entered the room, his publicist quietly walked behind him and turned on the tape recorder and then walked out.
"To this day, he is the only celebrity to have recorded an interview that I was recording," Coyne writes. "When I think about how much sense it makes for a celebrity, particularly one known for having to handle controversy, to have proof of what he said, I'm surprised more subjects don't do this."