Tabloid King Spills His Guts!

David Perel, the editor who brought down John Edwards, takes on a new challenge at 'Star'

David Perel is stretched out on the couch in a conference room in the Manhattan headquarters of American Media Inc., the parent company of the celebrity magazine Star, where he’s just taken over as editor. It’s a rare slow news day for him, and he’s in a reflective mood (only natural, since, as he points out, he is lying on a couch talking about his life). He’s trying to explain how he became the consummate outsider that he’s been over his 30 years in journalism. It goes back to his childhood in Baltimore, he says, in a time and place where the topic of race dominated the national discussion—and his family’s kitchen table. His father worked in a meat-packing plant, his mother was a bookkeeper. “I grew up in a big civil-rights household,” he says. “Everyone in the extended family was part of that.”