TIME WAS, in a town with few celebrities, TV news personalities in Philadelphia were kings and queens.
Their images donned covers of the Daily News, their bold-faced names plastered the inside of the tabloid and even the stodgy Inquirer, detailing their dining and shopping habits.
There were the respective stalkings of NBC 10 newsman Steve Levy ("I love Steve Levy in Paris in the Summertime," his pursuer told police when caught) and Channel 6 "Action News" anchor Monica Malpass (whose stalker had to be subdued once he saw her in court.)
Who could forget former NBC 10 anchors Vince DeMentri and Lori Delgado? He said that they carried on a consensual affair for two years. The married Delgado accused him of vandalizing her Lexus and taking personal items from her office desk.
Yet, with the advent of Twitter, Facebook and the growth of cable news, the traditional TV audience has found alternatives to find out what's going on. TV newscast ratings have shrunk, and so has the level of "celebrity" tied to its talent.
And when the dust clears in the civil trial of Alycia Lane v. Larry Mendte (and CBS Broadcasting) - which starts with jury selection today - perhaps the reign of news "celebs" will be over. An ushering out of the days when we treated TV stars as Philadelphia royalty.
"What has happened now, in the national evolution of technology and with networks losing some of their viewership to other means of information, I think there is a . . . lessening of the relative celebrityness of a reporter or an anchor," said Lloyd Zane Remick, an entertainment and sports attorney who represents several TV newscasters.
While TV news talent in Philly has always had more status than those in cities where talent are more transient, such as Los Angeles or New York, that interest is waning, said Scott Jones, founder of the TV industry website FTVLive.com.
Once upon a time, we'd gossip about FOX 29 weatherman John Bolaris' trip to a local tony bar, sharing cocktails with a sexy woman. Now, in the age of name your Kardashian and Paris Hilton, our standards have skyrocketed.
To get on the cover of yesterday's Daily News, it took Bolaris traveling to Miami and visiting two tony bars with two sexy women. Oh, and he got roofied and scammed out of $43,000.
"An anchor in Philly is still a, quote, celebrity," Jones said. "But there's not as much as there once was. It's gone down everywhere. There are less people watching TV news. Less eyeballs. Less celebrity status."
In their place, cue Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee (did you hear he bought a Center City condo?), manager Charlie Manuel (when's the last time a Phillies manager was popular enough to have his own TV and weekly radio show?) and Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (that was him posing for pictures after buying CDs at the Best Buy on Columbus Boulevard). Or chefs like Jose Garces or freshly minted James Beard Award winner Michael Solomonov.
"The whole world of celebrity has changed," Jones said. "Celebrities [including news personalities] have become diluted over the years.
"We're living in a culture where the Kardashians, who have literally done nothing in life, are celebrities."
And when it comes to TV news anchors and reporters, there are fewer people watching on air that would care what they do off air.
Nationwide, the audience for TV news has dropped about 40 percent over the last seven years, said veteran Philadelphia newscaster Larry Kane, author of the e-novel "Death By Deadline."
If it were up to Kane, the term "celebrity" and "news personality" would never be used in the same sentence.
"It's important for anchor people and reporters to try to stay out of the news and just report the news," said Kane, who hosts a weekly politics show on CN8. "Anyone who thinks scandal or anything close to scandal can impact positively on their career is smoking dope."
There's a small group, though, who believe Philadelphia is still fascinated with the on-air talent.
Of course, those people work in TV news.
"There's still an interest in personalities who present the news," said a local news director, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They still treat them as stars."