Joel Stein's first column *

Joel SteinMichael Kinsley's latest East Coast addition to the Times pundit lineup runs today at the bottom of the Sunday Opinion cover, without introduction or bio blurb, under the label "Laptop L.A." Stein's opening column dishes on how scripted reality TV shows are and quotes from an epsiode outline for "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" (linked to on the Times website). He picks on an easy target, Paris Hilton and "The Simple Life:"

Once you find out reality stars actually need help to be that dumb, they somehow stop being entertaining. We wanted to believe reality shows were real because they made us feel like other people's lives were more messed up than our own. Though that may not be true, at least we know that without writers they're just as boring as we are.

When he was named, the Time magazine writer said he would soon be relocating from New York to L.A. Stein's website, by the way, provides a bio and samples of his writing dating back to high school. His links to "What others are saying about Joel" somehow doesn't include last month's drubbing by Nikki Finke in LA Weekly, who details Stein's striving to break into Hollywood.

* We get email: Correspondents noticed it may be the first time the terms "getting 'laid" and "rubbers" (and a quip about Hilton's acting on a night vision camera) have appeared in a Sunday Opinion paragraph. One suggests Kinsley will admire Stein's "youthful cheek," while another predicts that more traditional LAT editor John Carroll might bristle.

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