Love it or hate it, create it or repeat it, America is obsessed with gossip. Here is a fascinating look at five decades of dish: a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the personalities that control what we read and see; the unholy and unchanging trinity of celebrity, publicist and reporter that has stoked the American appetite for gossip from the salad days of silver-screen magazines to the instantaneous communication of the scoop-filled Internet.Insider Jeannette Walls delivers a tantalizing tell-all that features not only gossip itself, but its history, its movers and shakers (including quite a few tony Ivy Leaguers), high and low points, and the watershed events and personalities--like Elvis, Diana, Michael Jackson and O. J.--that altered it forever. Here is the famous formula for People, the astonishing magazine that began amid sneers and snipes but went on to become one of the publishing industry's greatest success stories. Here too is the incredible truth behind explosive material that didn't see the light of day.From the humble beginnings of the National Enquirer, aided by the avuncular beneficence of crime kingpin Joe Costello, to the lurid Hollywood trial of Confidential magazine, where the "libeled" stars were proved more guilty than not of the salacious episodes the publication revealed, Jeannette Walls expertly traces the formation and development of the hush-hush industry. She shows us that tabloid TV shows are nothing new: they were preceded in the Fifties by the wildly successful Night Beat, hosted by none other than Mike Wallace, who turned the show into a forum for sex and scandal with his relentless prying and probing into the lives of celebrated figures.