Tabloids silent over filmmakers' hoax story claims

The Sun and Mirror today declined to comment on reports today that they were duped by documentary makers into publishing fake stories.

The Star and Express were also reportedly hoaxed by the makers of Starsuckers.

The film, which opens on 30 October, describes itself as “a feature documentary about the celebrity obsessed media, that uncovers the real reasons behind our addiction to fame and blows the lid on the corporations and individuals who profit from it”.

The filmmakers are now encouraging others to call into newspapers with fake stories saying: “For decades the tabloid press have made a fortune inventing tales of celebrity gossip. Now it’s your turn.”

The makers of Starsuckers say they placed their fake stories by simply calling the tip-off numbers printed in tabloid newspapers.

Stories which the film-makers say came from fake tip offs include:

  • Avril Lavigne falling asleep in a nightclub: The Daily Mirror;
  • Sparks from a fuse which blew at the flat of singer Amy Whinehouse set fire to her beehive hairdo: Mirror and Star;
  • Director Guy Ritchie received a black eye after juggling cutlery: The Sun;
  • Singer Sarah Harding is into quantum physics: The Sun;
  • Comedian Russell Brand wanted to be a banker when he was a child: Daily Express;
  • Pixie Geldof stuffed pick and mix sweets into her bra: The Daily Mirror.

Director of the movie, Chris Atkins, told The Guardian: “Had those fake stories been fact-checked by the newspapers before they were printed, they would have realised – I think within minutes – that they were about to publish complete and utter babble.”

The Starsuckers website contains a guide on how to sell fake stories to tabloid newspapers.

In a section headed: How tabloids print lies they say:

“Journalists know (or should know) that paid sources are prone to gild the lilly with their stories to push up the price. The celebrity world is riddled with flakes, bullshitters, alcoholics, layabouts, coke heads, speed freaks, acid baskets and – worst of all – PRs.

“‘The basic fee for a celebrity tip in a nightclub is £50, which is co-incidentally the going rate for a gram of cocaine.

“Celebrity journalists know this more than anyone, so they are supposed to check the veracity of their sources before they print anything.

“So if you had tried to flog a paper your McFly story, it would be extremely simple for the newspaper to check it out by calling up McFly’s people: ‘Hello, this is The Sun newsdesk. We’re looking at a story about your client skipping out of a black cab in a pink tutu singing show tunes… what? He’s in Paris? Oh, right, sorry to disturb.’ Simple.

“But in reality this often doesn’t happen as the journalists are too overworked to perform this basic check, or they couldn’t care less.”

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