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MOVIES : Hollywood's Real True Lies : In show biz, one person's truth can be another person's speculation or someone else's little white lie. Who can you believe? And when is a story really a story? Well, here's the inside scoop. Trust us.

July 31, 1994|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN | Patrick Goldstein is an occasional contributor to Calendar

People magazine Insider columnist Mitchell Fink said that weeks before Jackie Kennedy Onassis announced she had cancer, he received a tip saying she was ill. "I had a moral decision to make," he recalled. "Do I pester Jackie O?

"I was tempted, but my wife said, 'Leave it alone.' And I decided, if someone's sick, let them be sick in private."

The Daily News' Linda Stasi said she sat on her scoop that TV star Jerry Seinfeld was dating a 17-year-old high schooler.

"But then I took my daughter to a Knicks game where we saw the two of them together at courtside. My daughter looked at the girl through our binoculars and she said, 'Mom, I know her. I play basketball against her in high school!'

"Once he took her to a Knicks game, all bets were off. When I called his people for confirmation, they denied everything. But once the story came out, nobody denied a thing."

Fink said he has never written about a celebrity having AIDS or going to a rehab clinic. Yet he's critical of Kurt Cobain's management for putting out a fake accidental-overdose story a month before the rock star killed himself.

"If I'd gotten a tip that he'd actually tried to commit suicide, I would've written about it," he said. "It's fair game. His people were making an economic decision to protect their client, not a moral decision. Maybe if the whole world had known what really happened in Rome, it's possible his behavior might have changed. Maybe he'd be alive today. Who knows?"

Goldberg, who was Cobain's manager before he joined Atlantic Records, heatedly took issue with this attitude.

"Sometimes I think the media have a God complex," he said. "I actually read some rock writer comparing the handling of Kurt's drug problem to Nixon's Watergate. We're dealing with private torment here, not public issues. If all the people close to him couldn't stop him from doing drugs, when everyone was confronting him in every way possible, do you really think some story in a newspaper could've changed anything?

"What it comes down to for me is that sometimes the media simply want a better backstage pass to the tragedy."

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