Dumbest Register Story Ever?

According to folks we know who work there--see our OC Register Death Watch archive for all the depressing details--morale has never been lower at the Orange County Register. Last weekend, I bumped into one prominent Reg writer who told me it takes all his strength to even show up at work for fear of what terrible internal e-mail about layoffs or cutbacks will pop into his inbox.

But at least one Reggie writer is having a good time—maybe too much of a good time: Barry Koltnow. He's the longtime Hollywood columnist who one source told me was informed by higher-ups that he will likely lose his Tinseltown beat thanks to the paper's content-sharing deal with Dean Singleton's MediaNews Inc.. Koltnow told me no such conversation took place.

So we're guessing it's on Koltnow's own initiative that instead of stalking celebrities on Sunset Boulevard, Koltnow is playing paparazzo closer to home—at Hurricane's, a boisterous nightclub on Main Street in Huntington Beach well-known as a great place to pick up on porn stars. "Stalking celebs and locals alike at Hurricane's in Huntington Beach," reads the headline of Koltnow's July 1 column. "After Dark: We check out the action on Main Street in Surf City."

Apparently the one celeb sighting that might justify this waste of journalistic enterprise involved Seth Green, whom Koltnow was told was sitting at a table in the club. But by the time Koltnow ran over with his camera, the table was empty. You can see the table in the creepy slideshow that accompanies Koltnow's column. Also a poster of Racquel Welch.

But aside from the poster and empty table, the slideshow is alarmingly celeb-free. Just lots of shots taken by Koltnow of drunk blonde chicks in tight dresses, many of whom, when prodded by Koltnow, provided obviously fake names. (Koltnow, ever the pro, figured this out for himself, and assured readers that he didn't buy the deception either.) One thing is for sure, however: his bimbo-riffic photo essay gives new meaning to the word stalking.

Readers who commented on the blog weren't exactly impressed. "I go to the [OC Register] webpage and this is the front page article?" says one. "Are you kidding me? I do like entertainment news but this was neither news nor entertaining. I just waisted [sic] 3.5 minutes of my life here. Sheesh!"

"Typical H.B. tramps," said another. "NO STORY HEREEEEEE........................ONWARD!"

The comments just get worse from there:

*"Seriously stupid article . . . a couple of cute tops though . . . I think i saw that one at bebe's."

*"This reminds me of my 14-year-old niece's first article she got published in her local paper. Only her article was about horse back riding, not stalking innocent people.

*I clicked on the story because of the photo of those chicks. Sorry."

And on and on . . .

One commenter did jump in to defend Koltnow, but just kinda, which is kinda pathetic, given that he identified himself as David Whiting, the Register's news director.

"Without addressing this story per se, thought I'd mention the homepage is a mix of the best of the site," Whiting wrote. "Briefly, its goals are real time news, issues, watchdog, human interest stories and information that helps us understand our community. Much serious stuff, some lighter things as well."

Is this the dumbest Register story ever?

You decide.

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