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Celebrity Journalism: A Heads-Up Guide to Talking Heads

10/10/2011 02:41 pm ET | Updated Dec 10, 2011

Just who are all those loud, irritating "talking heads" you see and hear giving soundbites on celebrity news shows? Here's a question-and-answer guide to set you straight!

Q: Celebrity stories are always filled with soundbites from "insiders." What exactly is an insider?

A: An "insider" is usually a person whose phone calls are not returned by the celebrity's public relations people. They get mad, so they make stuff up.

Q: If "insiders" make stuff up, why do they get on television?

A: Because they're available and they're enthusiastic. In the absence of actual information, enthusiasm is much appreciated.

Q: A lot of celebrity journalists on TV are identified as "editors at large." What does that mean?

A: It probably means the magazine didn't want to give them office space, or pay for medical insurance.

Q: In terms of celebrity soundbites, who are the worst talking heads?

A: It's a toss-up -- doctors and academics.

Doctors says things such as, "It seems the cutting of the craniofacial muscles has led to a trauma of the subcutaneous tissues," when all we want them to say is: "Boy oh boy, that 'Real Housewife of New York' got herself one lousy facelift!"

Academics go on and on and on. Example: "Though George Clooney has been severely criticized for his forthright political views; and let's keep in mind that though extremely political, he is not, after all, a politician; still, one has to wonder if he, like Ronald Reagan before him, will venture into the political arena, head held high..."

Ironclad rule: good soundbites do NOT contain semicolons. Ever.

Q: What's the most ridiculous title ever to appear under a celebrity talking head?

A: "Body Language Expert." ("In this photograph, we see Ashton Kutcher leaning away from Demi Moore, indicating a lack of intimacy...") Body language experts are to soundbites what voodoo is to medicine. Even "insiders" sneer at body language experts.

Q: Who's the best talking head, in terms of soundbite satisfaction?

A: Can't reveal his name, but there's a shrink TV shows turn to every time a celebrity gets arrested for something stupid (domestic violence, DUI) -- and he always delivers with snappy, succinct, non-litigious answers. The guy is a soundbite jukebox! You put a quarter in his head, and he spits out the words you need.

Q: What advice would you give to young people who dream of becoming celebrity talking heads on TV?

A: Be bold. Be thoroughly caffeinated. Don't say "uhhh" in the middle of a bite. Most importantly, do not be too well informed. Facts have a way of interrupting the flow of a dream celebrity sound bite.

Charlie Carillo's first two published novels, Shepherd Avenue and My Ride With Gus are now available on Amazon Kindle. His website is www.charliecarillo.com.