Launching September 10, TMZ will be a new celebrity news magazine on television in much the same way the website has brought celebrity information to the public. When the Executive Producers Harvey Levin and Jim Paratore met with members of the press recently, they discussed the difference between TMZ.Com and the new television show.
"There are going to be different standards and practices," explained Paratore. "The broadcast show will meet broadcast standards and practices, but there will be things we do on the Web that we won't do on television."
"Yeah, I mean look, the premise of the show is the same premises as the website, which is we're not 'agenda,' Levin clarified. "We don't do red carpets; we don't do junkets, and ultimately publicists don't control us the way they control traditional media because if you're doing a traditional entertainment show and you want an interview with Tom Cruise, when the publicist calls you up and says, "If you do that story, we're not going give you Tom Cruise," it means something. We don't want the interview with Tom Cruise. We're going to be fair, but we're not going to fear publicists. We don't on the website, and we're not going to on the TV show. And it is very freeing. It is one of the reasons we were able to do what we do on the website. We deal with all the publicists in town, and we have great relationships with them. They know they can't bludgeon us. They know they can't control us. They'll work with us when we do stories and rather than getting mad, they realize we're a place to go to manage a story even if it's a bad story. We're not going to back down and tell it in a meek way or a tepid way, but we'll be fair. We're going to have our attitude, but we'll give them their say, and we're going to carry that spirit over because I know it sounds kind of trite to say we operate out of fairness and not fear, but it's really true, and when you kind of have that as the mantra, it allows you to do things you can never do in traditional media."
When they were asked why they were adding a TV show instead of simply staying with their successful website, Paratore said, "I think that it's not mutually exclusive. The brand is there. We have the information. The whole goal when we started TMZ was to create a news and information brand that would be platform agnostic, start it on the Web, build it out, go to television, mobile, wherever it takes us. I think that's the future of the business. No one is exactly sure how it's all going to shape together, morph back together or continue to change. What our goal is to build a news gathering infrastructure that can publish on the Web, on television, whichever way it goes. Why not?"
Harvey Levin detailed the visuals of what viewers can expect to see when they tune into the show. "We're not shooting this in a studio. You'll see the offices. We're really shooting this in the environment that we live in, and you're going to kind of feel like you're part of TMZ when you're watching the show. It's not going to have a stage. It's not going to have a control room. It's going to feel more organic to what we're doing. It's not going to be the boxy intros into a package with a tag. We're not going to do that. It's going to be faster paced. We're going to use people in the newsroom who actually find these stories to help sell these stories."
With celebrity news making headlines every day, the public is oftentimes fed up with stories about the rich and famous and their lives. But Levin disagrees that stories like Paris Hilton in jail was overdone and there are plenty of viewers who cannot get their fill of celeb stories and shows about celebs. "I love watching sanctimonious anchors on the cable saying, 'Oh, I refuse to read this story.' You know what? They cover it because people are interested in it. I don't apologize for doing Paris Hilton. The fact is, I think the world is like a magazine. It's not like the front page of a newspaper, and people like important stuff. They like features. They like snarky things. They follow these celebrities, and they want to see what they look like when they're not wax figures on a red carpet. I mean these are people that human beings invest in. They invest in them by going to movies. They invest in them by buying DVDs, by buying their clothes, and they want to know something about them. And what we do is not all bad at all. We don't just do stories about celebrities in trouble although we do stories about celebrities in difficulties. You know what, we're fair about it. Publicists kind of have gotten to the position like a private joke where we give them the best bad story they could possibly get when things are difficult because we're fair, and the stories are going to get out anyway. But in terms of what we're doing isn't representing the fall of western civilization."
Levin was adamant that everything viewers will see is true. "Everything is lawyered. I'm a lawyer, too, and I'm really tough on it. Accuracy I think is everything. If you lose accuracy you're dead."