Uh-oh! Hollywood’s red carpets just got more crowded.
The gridlock is due to the return of snarky fashion cops Joan and Melissa Rivers at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards. Standing her ground will be newcomer Star Jones Reynolds.
Star replaced Joan and Melissa as E! Entertainment Television’s red carpet reporter at last September’s Emmys after the mother-daughter duo quit to join the TV Guide Channel.
An exclusive agreement between E! and the TV academy prevented the Rivers women from covering Emmy arrivals for the TV Guide Channel after signing a three-year deal reportedly worth up to $8 million.
Now they’re back, leaving viewers to choose between the diva persona of Star Jones and the devilishly catty Joan and Melissa.
So is Star worried? With a throaty laugh, her answers amounts to: As if!
Playing the diplomat, Melissa said, “There’s plenty of room for everybody.”
“No, there isn’t,” her mother retorts.
Fawning vs. acidicThe difference in their styles is as wide as the carpets they cover.
A host of the ABC daytime talk show “The View,” Star favors a friendly tone as she doles out air kisses and heaps compliments on the stars. She’s pals with most of her celebrity guests, so they know to expect a lot of love.
Some critics loathe her fawning style, but she makes no apologies.
“Why can’t I gush a little? Why can’t I make them feel tremendously special?” Star told The Associated Press. “Who says you have to go in there and be critical and acerbic? I will not be that jaded journalist, I will not add to any of that nastiness.”
Of course, Joan and Melissa offer more acidic commentary.
“We’re a little sharper, we’re a little more critical,” said the 71-year-old elder Rivers with uncharacteristic understatement. “At my age, who gives a damn? You’re not going to like me? Get to the back of the line. You want to sue me? Get back to the end of the line.”
Star, 42, says several celebrities have told her she was a refreshing change on the carpet.
“I would rather be thought of as the friendly face than the mean face,” she said.
“Joan is an original, how could I ever compare to her?” Star says sweetly before the slam: “There’s nothing phony about me.”
If it had been up to Joan Rivers, she would have slung some pre-Globes mud at Star Jones — presumably of the day-spa variety and not what’s sliding down Hollywood hillsides this week.
“I wanted to make it into a feud and Melissa wouldn’t let me,” she said in an AP mother-daughter interview. “I was going to call Star and say, ‘Let’s say terrible things about each other.”’
“I was like, ‘Please don’t do this to me,”’ said Melissa, 36, who worried she would forever be stuck answering questions from people wondering if her mother and Star really hate each other.
“There’s nothing there, which kills me,” Joan said in mock despair.
Joan and Star are both board members of God’s Love We Deliver, which provides free meals for people living with HIV-AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses.
So, yeah, they actually like each other.
“I like her very much, as long as she’s not wearing my same dress,” Joan said.
Star’s take on Joan?
“I would never say anything mean about her. The whole thing is a little made up, but that’s our business,” she confided.
Red-carpet rite of passage
Joan and Melissa had been at E! since 1996, and pioneered TV coverage of celebrity arrivals on award-show red carpets.
“We’ve become a rite of passage. You go on the carpet and talk to Joan and Melissa and you’ve arrived,” Joan suggested. “The biggest mistake we ever made was not patenting ‘Live from the red carpet.”’
“Once we left, E! patented ‘Live from the red carpet,”’ Melissa said.
“They were very naughty and never told us,” Joan said.
E! reaches 85 million cable and direct broadcast satellite subscribers in the United States.
“E! is like the granddaddy of this. They originated the genre, they made it appointment television,” Star said. “How can I screw this up?”
TV Guide Channel is in more than 76 million homes and is making the transition from a listings service to an entertainment network. The scroll at the bottom of the screen listing the nightly programming won’t be seen during the Rivers’ red carpet coverage on Sunday and their “Golden Globes Fashion Wrap” the following day.
This being television, the ratings always have the last word, and all three women will shift their attention from vanity to viewership once the red carpet is rolled up.
“She’s obviously going to get higher ratings,” Joan said, referring to her E! competitor as she takes a page from the political world’s lowered-expectations strategy.
Melissa assuages her mother by pointing out that they’re taking a cable channel into new territory.
“We need to plant the flag for TV Guide,” she said. “The frustration is going to be that the press picks up that Star won. Whatever we get (ratings-wise) is going to be more than whatever they got before.”
On the red carpets of Hollywood, it’s all about appearances.