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Buzz Feed spoke to nearly two dozen former TMZ employees, and it’s clear that Bieber’s tape was not the only near-priceless piece of dirt in the proverbial TMZ vault.
(TMZ did not respond to multiple requests for comment.) According to these ex-employees, the sealed testimonies from the Michael Jackson molestation trial hide there as does footage of various celebrities — Bieber, Lohan, Travolta — behaving badly.
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 there’s a third TMZ mode, one that neither the tour nor the TMZ syndicated program can truly translate.
” While passing ABC studios: “Here’s the set of Good Morning America, where Chris Brown is known for his hits!
”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.
As to what goes up on the site and what stays vaulted, that’s a finer, more esoteric calculus — and one in which celebrities and their publicists have come to live in fear.
But one of Telepictures’ longest-running and most reliable shows was Extra, an entertainment news program developed in 1994 to provide synergistic promotion across the sprawling Time Warner media conglomerate.
In 2005, Extra had already been on the air for more than a decade, amassing a trove of old footage of celebrities, all ready to be recycled and exploited on the cheap.
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.
Harvey Levin grew up, in the words of one former associate, as a “Jew nerd from Reseda, Calif.” — in proximity to the glamour of Hollywood, but definitively excluded from it. Levin taught law and briefly practiced it, but starting in 1982 began focusing on his media career: He had a legal radio talk show, a column in the Los Angeles Times, and law-related reporting gigs at KNBC and later KCBS, which is where he was working when the biggest celebrity scandal of the ‘90s broke: the O. In 2002, he became the executive producer of Celebrity Justice, but the show only aired for three years.