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Posted at 10:44 AM ET, 09/12/2006

Celebritology 101: The Art of Cheek!

By Liz Kelly

Today we turn our attention to the satisfying pleasure afforded by a well-written headline. Particularly in the world of celebrity news, a headline can make a paper buyable, a link clickable and elevate the subject matter from the mundane to the sublime. The surreally sublime, that is.

The New York tabloids have made a passable sport out of headline-writing, mainly relying on the power of the pun to sell a few more copies. Still, New York has nothing on the British, who win the world title for clever cheeky headline-writing. No contest.

Some recent examples:
'Drunken Twit' Tarrant Thrown Out by His Wife for Canoodling
Busty Liz is Simply the Chest
Lo' Unsteady as She Goes!

It's the vocabulary, you see. The British press has embraced the colloquial and freely use slang and the latest in pop culture references (see above's "Unsteady as She Goes") when composing. Also, gone is the silly requirement to include a verb. In its place is a reverence for the salacious and a creativity that artfully peppers headlines with Britishisms like "twit," "snog" and "shag." It helps that editors aren't afraid to pair these words with some heavy-hitting names, including the British royal family.

Another difference is the uninhibited use of punctuation, usually in the form of an exclamation mark! Try it! It's liberating!

Exercise: Take a lesson from Fleet Street and punch up the wire stories below by re-writing the headlines on the model of the British press. Here's a British slang dictionary to get the creative juices flowing, but extra credit for using American slang and references to the same effect.

1. Naked Cowboy's Got the Music CD in Him (story)

2. Diddy Can't Be Diddy in Britain (story)

3. Gest Wants Minnelli Prenup Dismissed (story)

By Liz Kelly  | September 12, 2006; 10:44 AM ET
Categories:  Celebritology 101  
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