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Mailbag for September 15, 2023
Am I friends with Meghan, are shitty Late Night hosts the norm, crazy fandoms, and more
It’s our first Friday mailbag! Every week Emily, our site manager, will start a new chat with an invitation to post questions. And every Friday the newsletter will come from the mailbag. Today, though, we’ll start with a question I’ve been getting just in general from way before we started The Squawk and continue to get here and there like once a month, and it’s related to some questions that were asked a lot in the mailbag about royal coverage.
The question is:
Are you friends with Meghan Markle and how much is she paying you?
No, I am not friends with Meghan Markle. I’ve met Meghan Markle exactly once and I wrote about that dinner that resulted in that photo that’s been conspiracy theoried all over the place – you can revisit that post here.
I’m not repeating what I said in that post. What I will add is that that was a private dinner in honour of Michael Bublé, and Meghan and I sat at opposite ends of the table. About two hours into the dinner, once all the food was served, people started moving around, so I did end up next to her at one point and we talked for 20 minutes tops. Mostly, the conversation was about dogs because Jacek and I live with two beagles and she lives with a beagle, only her beagle is adopted from a shelter and honestly? I’m pretty sure she wasn’t all that impressed with us that our beagles came from a breeder. My point is, I didn’t get the sense that she had any interest in getting to know me and I was more interested in watching Jacek fanboy over Trevor Linden – it wasn’t the kind of interaction where there’s a spark of potential friendship.
But when she and Prince Harry started dating, and then got engaged and married, and all the haters started hating all over the place and accusing me of biased coverage, that photo fueled the very wrong assumption that, as her friend, I was doing spin for her. And profiting off of it…which…
Show me the money. I wish I had the money, LOL.
That brings us to the next question from Monica:
Did I miss why there's so much less coverage of Harry and Meghan, and especially his family's game with publicity games, leaks, and jostling to sway public opinion when it comes to them?
There is less coverage because I am bored, that’s the short answer. I wrote about their Netflix and Spotify deals but beyond that, there’s not much that’s all that interesting or new. Like, for sure, there are stories about them in the British tabloids almost every day because the British tabloids are obviously still generating all kinds of traffic with headlines about how Harry and Meghan aren’t popular anymore (even though they’re probably the most popular subjects on their website), but I think by now, if you’re here, you know that none of that shit is true. So, for me, as eye-rolly as it sounds, it’s a matter of principle in this time of misinformation and disinformation.
At a certain point, even writing about something that isn’t true and saying that it isn’t true is amplifying something that isn’t true. That’s one of the reasons why Harry and Meghan are so polarising. Everything that people think they know about them is shaped by so much inaccuracy and, quite frankly, a nefarious agenda. It’s not like I think they’re perfect – because they are far from perfect and kind of annoying at times, which Allison P Davis captured cleverly in her piece in New York Magazine last year, but not so annoying that I want to get in there and add my voice to the cacophony of racist trolls on social media who are fueled by racist royal reporters and the content driven by the British papers.
When there’s actually news, we’ll definitely post about it, but there really hasn’t been any actual news or legitimate gossip. As for the other royals, they’re dull as fuck. We don’t need to have a boner for every story that we cover at LaineyGossip, but we also don’t want it to feel like a chore. Right now, if you asked me to write a royal story every day, whether it’s about Harry and Meghan or Will and Kate or all those beiges like Edward and Sophie and Charles and Camilla, there would be only one article on the site every day because it would take me a whole fucking day to come up with something fresh to say.
Question from Rachelle G:
Show your work topic - is there something inherent in the talk show/late night workplace that makes it so susceptible to these dynamics from hosts and/or show runners??
I’m not sure it’s just limited to the talk show/late night workplace. I know that The Morning Show is a mess but at the same time, the reason why so many people who work in television watch it is because they get so much of it right, and you don’t know unless you’ve been in the environment. Which I know is such an obnoxious thing to say and I’m not here to boast about working in television – my point is, so much of the behaviour that’s been coming out about what it’s like behind the scenes is normalised. On talk shows, on scripted shows, on news shows…
There’s a book by Patty Lin that came out recently called End Credits: How I Broke Up With Hollywood about her experience writing on shows like Friends and Desperate Housewives and Breaking Bad. Also, Maureen Ryan’s book from this year, Burn It Down. Both of them write about the toxicity on set with showrunners being abusive and racist to cast members, behaving like brats and deliberately fucking up jokes they didn’t like, and producers exploiting crew and other staff members. I’m not saying every set and every studio is a shit hole, and in daily live TV, where it’s a high-stress environment and you are dealing with crazy deadlines and developing stories, it’s understandable that sometimes people lose their temper and behave regrettably.
But there has also been a cultural condoning of certain chronic behaviours within the industry. In the same way that certain acclaimed film directors, with all kinds of awards, are known to be screamers. You remember that infamous video of David O Russell losing it on Lily Tomlin on the set of I Heart Huckabees? Same guy that George Clooney decked on the set of Three Kings. I’m sure they’ve all moved past it by now, but the takeaway here is that if he was speaking like that to his STARS, imagine how he was treating the non-stars? And then when you consider that David O Russell may not be the exception, that he was allowed to act this way on multiple films, and that so many people are conditioned in these environments, it’s not just limited to late night and talk formats, but to the system overall.
And it’s a vicious cycle. Because this is also a stupidly conservative system that often doesn’t give new voices a chance. That showrunner who was mean to people on their previous show has the credit from the previous show. Credit = experience. And experience gets the next job, so they continue take their old patterns to the new place. But the network executives are often resistant to hiring those who they don’t think have enough experience but who could actually change the culture. Every day on social media there are screenwriters who have the vision, and the talent, who are overlooked for the same because supposedly they don’t have the experience. But how are they going to get it when they’re not given a chance?
Many of my friends are aspiring showrunners who are totally right for whatever new series is coming up. And yet they keep getting told by the networks, time and again, that they’re looking for someone who’s done it before. This happens in Hollywood, but it also happens in Canada where the pool is smaller.
For every toxic boss story in the talk show space, remember that Conan O’Brien has people on his staff who have happily been there for 20+ years. Remember that he is widely known as a good boss—not a perfect person, but a good boss—and he came up through the same system as the others, Harvard Lampoon, SNL, writing for network series, et cetera. And he didn’t turn out like them, so it doesn’t HAVE to be this way, he’s proof that system can (occasionally) produce normal fucking individuals. But despite his longevity and popularity, Conan’s always been an outlier. He’s never been the center of the talk show space, and the one time he got close, the system swept him away right quick.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase “lions like tall grass for a reason”. When thinking about why are talk shows so toxic, why are there so many bad bosses in this space, ask yourself this: who are they covering for? We saw this with Roger Ailes and Les Moonves—the on-air talent is often only a symptom of what’s truly putrid at the top. That Rolling Stone expose on Jimmy Fallon? That’s the tall grass. We haven’t seen the lion yet.
Question from Maggie:
Something that was touched on already today is messages you receive from ‘fandoms’ that verge into threatening or just crazy territory. Which groups are the worst for actually concerning threats? Which are the craziest, like out of touch with reality?
As mentioned above, the royal people are pretty wild. When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle say that they’re afraid because of the mess that’s out there, they’re not fucking exaggerating. You know how some of the insurrectionists or the Trump supporters can twist a situation that’s clearly black and white into something that’s totally fucked? Like that theory they were trying to push that the Capitol Hill rioters were actually tourists? It’s kinda like that with anything that Meghan does. She’ll be out somewhere holding hands with Harry and suddenly she’s a slut that trapped him with her shameless sexual overtures.
Back in the Twilight days, the TwiHards got pretty aggressive with their insistence that Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson were still together, secretly married, and having babies. Those emails were funny but also sad. It is sad when someone’s reality is clearly… not reality.
Like earlier this year we kept getting messages by a woman who claimed that she was Brad Pitt’s undercover lover. And she was targeting Ines de Ramon, accusing Ines of stealing her money or something. She was sending text messages supposedly between her and Brad, in which he professed his love for her with assurances that he was fauxmancing Ines and that he remained loyal to her. The text messages looked reasonably believable if the story wasn’t so fucked up, so this person would have had to spend some time manipulating images, etc, and sending them all over the place.
I was a little worried last year with the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial because that situation was so volatile, and I think we all saw what was happening on Twitter with bots and the algorithm manipulation and some of the DMs I was getting were pretty threatening. We were worried about our site security because if they can fuck with huge social media platforms, what would happen if they targeted us? And some did.
I would love to stop getting death threats from DC nerds because I don’t like most of those movies. Zack Snyder’s fanbros are completely unhinged, and Jeremy Renner has an inexplicably passionate fanbase of middle-aged women who will defend him with their lives. I still get hate mail about my piece on Justin Bieber’s exotic cats. The last Instagram post for Sushi and Tuna was on October 21, 2019, by the way.
Question from Rachel:
One more very trivial thing- can we know what shoes Lainey is wearing (rainbow sneakers) with the white babydoll dress posted on IG today for etalk? Thanks 😊
If you’re talking about these shoes…
…they’re McQueen holographic sneakers from a few seasons ago. I got them on sale at the time and you might be able to find a reseller? They hold up really well.
Question from HufflepuffLizLemon:
Frivolous question: Can we get some examples of what Lainey called "Light Crimp" texture in the "What Else' yesterday, 9-11? I've been rocking more or less the same hair for years and occasionally I get sensitive about Kate Middleton's hair because I have some similarities. I love texture and can get down with trying anything that will let me get out the door faster than blowout/loose curls.
Here’s a shot of me from the other day with what I call the “light crimp”. I don’t know if anyone else calls it this.
This is not extensions, it’s all my hair, and you can get this texture with a tool!
So, it’s not quite a wave but it’s also not a tight crimp. My inspiration for this hair texture is Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen, particularly Mary Kate. I think it’s natural for them and for years I’ve been trying to reproduce it. The closest I could get was day two or three after a tighter wave, after putting it up and down in a bun and having several showers and sleeping on it. And then I saw it on Jisoo in her video for “Flower” ….
…which is definitely not her natural texture (she’s also added extensions, accounting for the added volume) so I asked Keisha to see if she could make it happen.
Keisha, aka Blue Will (you can find her on Instagram here) figured it out. Just a note on Keisha because she is one of the most creative and imaginative people I’ve ever met. Keisha is a musician. She is super talented, has the most amazing voice, and she’s going to blow up soon. She makes her own clothes, she styles her own videos, she writes her own songs. And hair styling is her side hustle. She was Key Hair on The Social until recently because she’s having another baby soon.
Anyway, Keisha used a three-barrel curling iron to achieve this look. Google three-barrel curling iron, they are all over the place. But instead of pushing down on it super hard and holding it, she just clamped the hair lightly and let go after like maybe a second, max two seconds. My hair holds heat well, so this might be different if your hair doesn’t take to heat. Holding it down longer gets the full crimp. Lightly holding and releasing quickly gives a softer crimp. And then she just sprayed product all over it.
OK, we’re wrapping it up now because we’ve just made you read 2600 words, LOL.
Thanks for your questions. If you have more, put them in the chat for next week’s mailbag. And a reminder, we’ve unlocked all the Squawk features for paid and free subscribers for the past week. After next Friday’s “all subscribers” mailbag, we’ll start locking down paid subscriber features including the daily chat threads for LaineyGossip articles. So if you’re still on a free subscription, please consider singing up for the paid version. We’d appreciate your support!
Keep squawking, keep gossiping!
Lainey and Sarah