Would Britney Spears have turned into such a mentally unstable, drug-abusing, overweight, neglectful mess if she weren't hounded by photographers everywhere she goes? Yeah, probably. But being forced to drive through a wall of aggressive paparazzi at every stop sign certainly doesn't help matters.
There have been gossip magazines and celebrity photographers since A Trip to the Moon captivated audiences, but it seems like they've never been so bold and invasive. It was only a matter of time before someone made a television series about this side of the business, and Dirt - which airs on FX in the United States and Bravo! in Canada - is a flawed but interesting look at this fascinatingly sleazy world. The first season is now available on DVD, with only a few special features (three short making-of featurettes, a blooper reel, and several deleted scenes).
Courtney Cox Arquette, who produces the series with husband David Arquette, stars as Lucy Spiller (real subtle), editor of not one but two celebrity magazines. The venerable Now is struggling to hold its audience, while the racy Drrt is popular but too lowbrow to attract advertisers. (Think People and Star, respectively, and you'll get the idea.) Spiller merges the magazines, and with only occasional pangs of conscience, uses blackmail, bribery, and trickery to break stories about celebrities' drug abuse, pregnancies, and other important stuff.
One of Spiller's major sources is Holt McLaren, a talented actor who makes a Faustian bargain to provide information in exchange for favorable coverage in DrrtNow. But her secret weapon is Don Konkey (Ian Hart), a paparazzo who regularly obtains remarkable shots, despite suffering from schizophrenia and being simultaneously tormented and tantalized by the late actress whose corpse he photographed. I won't tell you what he does to get a crucial photo in episode three, but it has to be seen to be believed.