Nipped, Tucked and Talking
Faced with a month off between jobs, TV newswoman Greta Van Susteren was lounging in her three-bedroom stone house in Washington, D.C. Suddenly she looked up from her Sunday paper and asked John Coale, her husband of 14 years, "Do you think I should get rid of these bags under my eyes?" Coale, an attorney, was startled. "We had never talked about it," he says. "Greta always looks like she's 25 to me." Like a good lawyer, he ducked the question -- and like a good husband, "he said he loves me anyway," recalls Greta. "Right answer!"
But three days later the pair visited a D.C. surgeon to explore the ins and out of blepharoplasty, commonly known as an eye-lift. "You have to realize this was not a huge decision," says Van Susteren, "not like choosing a law school." Rather, with the start of her new job a month away, she decided, she says, to do something just for her: "I just did it on a whim. It's the first time since I was 17 that I had a month off and no responsibilities." She was also facing her 30th high school reunion in Wisconsin this summer. "I looked at myself and thought, 'God, how did I get to be 47?' "
When her show On the Record with Greta Van Susteren kicked off on Feb. 4, just 24 days after her surgery, it was impossible to know how many viewers tuned in to listen to the brainy legal analyst and who just wanted to check out FOX News Channel's newest face. In the days before her debut, Van Susteren's raised eyelids raised eyebrows, thanks to a buzz-building promo in which she looked more like CNN's Paula Zahn than her former no-frills self. Slam! Bam! Suddenly TV news was forced to talk about the industry's worst-kept secret: Newscasters often rely on more than pancake makeup and merciful lighting to achieve their polished looks. "FOX hired a tomboy, and they got a babe," says Michele Greppi, national editor of the weekly industry magazine Electronic Media. "It's all everybody was talking about."
The reason was simple: While many TV journalists are among the more than 7 million people (six women to every one man) who go under the knife in the U.S. each year, few ever fess up. "The question is who hasn't had surgery in television," says Dr. Pamela Lipkin, a New York City plastic surgeon who has nipped and tucked many TV clients (and, not surprisingly, won't say whom). ABC's Carole Simpson, 53, discussed her '98 face-lift on Good Morning America; Barbara Walters, 70, reportedly has had some plastic surgery. But most of their colleagues are mum. "You ask the question as gently as you can and you get, 'I don't know what you are talking about,' " says Greppi. "When people have work done, everybody works very hard to not acknowledge it."
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