To answer that question, we have to look closely at the story of TMZ — its founding narrative, its breakthrough, and, most crucially, its founder — the man for whom the bus of TMZ acolytes cheered so emphatically.Because as anyone affiliated with the site will tell you, the story of TMZ is really the story of Harvey Levin. from University of Chicago, passing the California bar in 1975. He was but one player in the larger industry that popped up around the trial and its aftermath, but he was skilled enough — and natural enough on camera — to win the role of host of the revival of The People’s Court.According to Quantcast, unique traffic has increased just 11% over a two-year period (24.48 million to 27.23 million; compare to usmagazine.com, whose unique traffic has increased 156%, from 12.8 million to 32.8 million) and Famous in 12, a TMZ-branded CW series, was canceled after five episodes this summer.
For just , you can purchase a guaranteed front-of-the-bus seat on the TMZ NYC Tour.”Halfway through the three-hour tour, the bus stops in So Ho: To the left, there’s DASH, the Kardashian-branded store; to the right, you can backtrack to the loft where Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead of a heroin overdose.These two attractions perfectly encapsulate two of the modes of coverage at which TMZ excels: the frivolous and the macabre, Celebrity Banality News and Celebrity Death News.But it’s not just celebs: In 2009, it caught a bank spending millions of taxpayer bailout funds on a lavish party (Northern Trust), and, via spin-off TMZSports, instigated the billion sale of an NBA team by applying the same surveillance to a racist owner (Donald Sterling) once reserved for the Hollywood stars and socialites.Before TMZ, the gossip landscape was predominantly characterized by what those in the industry call “blow job news” — tidbits and sound bites that flatter the egos and images of celebrities. It trades in scandal, and revels in exposing the narrative for what it is: a story as fictional as the films and television shows in which these stars appear.
But there’s a third TMZ mode, one that neither the tour nor the TMZ syndicated program can truly translate.