Comedian and actor Martin Short has managed to keep himself out of the tabloids in a career that has spanned five decades. It's easy to see why, as he deftly avoided any feud rumors in the wake of Kathy Lee Gifford's gaffe on "Today" earlier this week. Apparently whoever did the pre-interview with Short before his segment with Kathy Lee forget to brief her on a very important fact about Martin's life: his wife of 36 years passed away in 2010.
Gifford though, obviously unaware of this fact, kept asking questions about Short's marriage as if Nancy Dolman were still alive. "You and Nancy have one of the greatest marriages of anybody in show business," Kathy said. Short was obviously taken aback but managed to smile that trademark smile of his, and roll with it. He didn't storm off the set, or angrily tweet about it later.
In fact, when reached for comment, Short simply said, "...people make mistakes and there's no ill will intended." It's refreshing when a star takes a situation where there's a potential for drama and simply side-steps it, taking the high road. Short was the epitome of class and respect both during the segment and afterward, there was no tirade or tantrum, just a showbiz icon who understands that to err is human.
So why don't more celebrities just take a step back, keep perspective and move forward in situations like this? It does seem like more and more celebrity feuds have become the rule and not the exception. Every week there's another fight between one star or another, and they very rarely start over issues as personal as a mistake of not knowing someone's spouse had passed away. Gifford's gaffe could have evoked some strong personal emotions in the "SCTV" star, but instead it was cleaned up and taken care of without any further issue.
One reason that perhaps more celebrity feuds are breaking out over misunderstandings is the desire for publicity in the age of the Internet and the twenty-four hour news cycle. Stars more and more need to say and do things that capture the public's attention, and we all know a little drama can do just that. After all, a story that involves a little controversy will get a lot more press than a story like this one would.
You could take the publicity argument to a slightly more cynical conclusion, that at least some of the celebrity feuds we see these days could very easily be cooked up by both parties' publicists. While there may not be any real animus between the two fighting celebrities, there's a need to fuel the sensationalism and so they buy into the hostility for no other reason than to get everyone's names in the papers and online in bold type as much as possible.
Whether or not the nature of fame has changes so much that celebrity feuds are now just a necessary tool of the trade, it's still great to see that there are some stars who refuse to get down in the mud. To her credit as well, Gifford was appropriately remorseful, and she apologized immediately after the commercial break, after being told by Short himself of his late wife's passing.
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