Sunday, May 26, 2024

New York Times Style Section Goes Tabloid, Snookered into Half Baked Story About Natalie Wood’s Sister by First Time Writer


I can’t imagine why the New York Times Style section published their piece today about Lana Wood, sister of screen star Natalie. The Times allows Wood to accuse Robert Wagner once again of killing his wife in 1981. It’s a tabloid story with no merit.

Lana Wood is a tabloid regular, no stranger to the National Enquirer, Radar Online and any supermarket publication that will pay her to re-tell her allegations.

The strangeness of today’s story is that it’s written by someone named Elinor Blake. A search of the Times archives indicates no other stories ever by Blake. The only Elinor Blake I can find is an illustrator, animator and a singer-songwriter who’s worked with the White Stripes’ Jack White. She has an IMDB page under the pseudonym April March, with soundtrack and animation credits.

Whoever Elinor Blake is, she fails to mention a lot of things about Lana Wood: that two years ago she went to the tabloids claiming to be homeless. The Daily Mail in particular went with that story, and a GoFundMe page emerged. They raised $38,925, exceeding the $10,000 goal. None of that is included in the Times story, which presents Lana as a doting grandmother and faded Hollywood ingenue.

I don’t mind saying I like Robert Wagner. I interviewed him around 18 years ago in person at lunch and we discussed Natalie, her death, Christopher Walken, all of it. I’m probably the most skeptical cynic around, and I didn’t suspect he was lying to me. I ran into him last year, with Jill St. John, by accident in New York. He was charming and affable. Jill St. John and Wagner’s daughters are not idiots. I doubt they would be loyal to him if they thought he’d killed Natalie Wood. I also doubt Christopher Walken would have kept that a secret for 38 years. There was nothing in it for him.

Well, it’s summer, and there’s not a lot going on in the Styles world. If anyone knows who Elinor Blake is, drop me a line at Her lack of previous bylines may account for the Times already adding a Correction to the story. As for Lana Wood, the whole thing is quite tiresome by now. But I give her credit for snookering the Times.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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