OFF THE GRID

Warren Beatty’s Daughter: The Media Is Kind and Gentle—Or Carefully Controlled

Sep 23, 10 | 8:06 AM   byMichael Wolff
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I missed the story about Warren Beatty’s 18-year-old daughter planning to have a sex-change operation. Beatty’s wife, Annette Bening, apparently canceled many of her appearances related to the movie The Kids Are All Right when it opened this summer because of her own family issues. Bening is said to be supporting her daughter; Beatty himself is distraught and opposed to his daughter’s decision.

I could have read this in the New York Post’s Page Six a few weeks ago, but I missed it. The Post could have picked this up from the National Enquirer and a few of the British papers in June, but seems to have missed it, too.
It’s not a hidden story. It’s been out there. And yet it’s hardly made an impression (we missed it at Newser). This is because…the media is incredibly decorous and understanding?

Or because a story about children of big stars who have sex-change operations is so ho-hum (Cher’s daughter)?

Or is there some more complicated politics here? Some secret double standard as to who is subjected to intrusive media inquiry and who is not? Some unseen hand giving special dispensations?

Forgive me, but as for stories providing a look into the real lives of celebrities—their pathos and dysfunction—this seems like a juicy one. I’m not sure you can get juicier: The roué father with gender issues coming home to roost; the stoic mother with her inopportunely timed film; the determined daughter. What’s more, the Beattys are not just any actors but Hollywood royalty. How is this not on the cover of every celebrity magazine? Why aren’t the morning shows earnestly plumbing all the family gender issues illustrated by the example of the Beatty family? This is Oprah stuff, no? Can anything be more Oprah?

It may be that, undetectable to the naked eye, the media goes easy on families and on the children of celebrities. Perhaps this is an unwritten code. Good to know. Maybe there are many celebrity children in the throes of great personal dramas that we are not being told about. If so, that would be nice. Or, if this is to your taste, something of a cheat.

Or it may be that the media protects its own. This seems like a counter-intuitive point because so much of the media is about people in the media. Or it protects its own who have protection—and Warren Beatty has not worked in the field for a half-century without knowing who to call. Indeed, you would think that Fox News would be delighted that such a well-known Hollywood liberal as Beatty was being cursed by such a permissive society issue. On the other hand, the Beattys know Wendi Murdoch.

But, frankly, it is a surprise that such power still works. There is, after all, no blog mogul for Beatty (or Beatty’s people) to call. And yet, mirabile dictu, even the trans-gender blogs seem quiet on the subject.

Of course, after his half a century in the limelight, Beatty may have learned secrets about media management that all other victims of schadenfreude and scandal and tabloid fascination and justice can only dream of.

For the record, I am pleased that the Beatty daughter’s privacy is being protected, but it's very suspicious.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWolffNYC.

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