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'When You Step Upon a Star' Recounts Encounters with Hollywood Celebrities

‘When You Step Upon a Star’ Recounts Encounters with Hollywood Celebrities

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By the time I began working with William Keck at TV Guide Magazine, his tabloid days seemed to be behind him. However, with a twinkle in his eye, Keck still knew how to dig up a compelling story, even if it caused a stir among celebrities or their protective publicists.

At TV Guide, I witnessed Keck reveal on-set turmoil during the final seasons of “Desperate Housewives” and stir emotions with his eyewitness accounts. There was also the time Victoria Principal promised him an exclusive about her absence from the “Dallas” revival. Being a massive “Dallas” fan, it was a major scoop for Keck. However, she gave the exclusive to a competitor, and Keck, in frustration, vented on social media, acknowledging that he had “lost his mind.”

Keck’s fearless nature makes him an exceptional journalist and has provided him with a trove of outrageous stories, many of which he has chronicled in his new memoir, “When You Step Upon a Star: Cringeworthy Confessions of a Tabloid Bad Boy.”

Most of these tales stem from his three years at the National Enquirer in the mid-1990s, a period when the publication was at the peak of its influence. The Enquirer was then gaining reluctant respect from mainstream media for breaking exclusive news on the O.J. Simpson case. Keck was behind one such scoop: shortly after the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, he managed to sneak into the Brown family’s residential area in Laguna Niguel, Calif. Surprisingly, the family did not eject him but instead shared their news, maintaining contact with the Enquirer for months.

Many of Keck’s stories have a more sordid twist. For instance, he once spent hours camped out on a tree branch to document Dean Martin’s funeral. He also found ways to access hospital rooms to report on the “brave final days” of various aging celebrities, and would crash weddings and more.

One legendary tale involves Keck stealing Kelsey Grammer’s garbage and taking it to the Enquirer office. Though he didn’t find much, the trash was crawling with maggots, which infested the office’s carpet.

Keck’s interactions with Grammer’s fiancée, Tammi Jo Baliszewski, particularly angered the “Frasier” star, who accused Keck of claiming he had proof that Grammer was HIV-positive, a claim denied and never published. Grammer’s anger was palpable in his 1995 autobiography, where he hoped Keck would “fry in hell.”

In reality, Keck had regular conversations with Baliszewski about her relationship with Grammer, and most shocking revelations remained private. However, the pressure of his tabloid job began to affect him.

Keck joined the Enquirer because of his love for Hollywood, especially the old legends. He compared it to working for the mafia, describing how they encouraged and financially rewarded his digging into scandalous stories.

Keck’s background also influenced his work. The loss of his father at age 5 had him looking to TV for father figures, taking a particular liking to Mike Brady from “The Brady Bunch.” When he later learned that Robert Reed, who portrayed Mike Brady, was a closeted gay man like his own father, it deeply resonated with Keck, who also hadn’t come out during his Enquirer days.

After three years, Keck left the Enquirer to pursue feature writing, desiring more straightforward journalistic work. He moved on to stints at USA Today, TV Guide, and various reputable publications, continuing to gather wild stories along the way. He even experienced a high-speed paparazzi chase and landed on Scientology’s “suppressives” list.

Recently, Keck worked as a talent producer for Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family,” organizing classic TV cast reunions and working for NBC and Discovery Channel. He always knew he wanted to tell his story and saved every notebook and recorded interview from his career.

Instead of exposing celebrity secrets, Keck’s memoir aims to reveal his own. He contacted many celebrities, including Christopher Knight, Melissa Gilbert, Cybill Shepherd, Carlton Cuse, Marc Cherry, and Marcia Cross, to obtain their perspectives for his book. Others, like Victoria Principal, allowed him to share their interactions but chose not to contribute.

“When You Step Upon a Star: Cringeworthy Confessions of a Tabloid Bad Boy” is set for release on July 11 by Jacobs Brown Media Group. Keck retains the audiobook, podcast, and adaptation rights and hopes to explore those further in the coming months.

Source: Jacobs Brown Media Group