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SloganCelebrity Gossip. Entertainment News. Celebrity News.
Type of siteCelebrity news
Available language(s)English
OwnerTime Warner
Created byHarvey Levin
Jim Paratore[2]
EditorHarvey Levin
LaunchedNovember 8, 2005 (2005-11-08)[3]
Alexa ranknegative increase 444 (December 2013)[4]
Current statusNews-in media
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SloganCelebrity Gossip. Entertainment News. Celebrity News.
Type of siteCelebrity news
Available language(s)English
OwnerTime Warner
Created byHarvey Levin
Jim Paratore[2]
EditorHarvey Levin
LaunchedNovember 8, 2005 (2005-11-08)[3]
Alexa ranknegative increase 444 (December 2013)[4]
Current statusNews-in media

TMZ is a celebrity news website that debuted on November 8, 2005. It was a collaboration between AOL and Telepictures Productions, a division of Warner Bros.,[5] until Time Warner divested AOL in 2009. The name TMZ stands for thirty-mile zone, the historic "studio zone" within a 30-mile (50 km) radius centered at the intersection of West Beverly Boulevard and North La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles, California.

TMZ's managing editor is Harvey Levin, a lawyer-turned-journalist who was previously a legal expert for the Los Angeles television station KCBS-TV.[6] The site claims that it does not pay for stories or interviews; however, Levin has admitted that TMZ does "sometimes pay sources for leads on stories".[7][8][9] Levin has stated that "everything is researched and vetted for accuracy."[10] A companion television series, TMZ on TV, debuted on September 10, 2007.


Seven months prior to the official launch of TMZ, America Online (AOL) had hinted that it was planning to launch a Hollywood- and entertainment-centric news site that would be produced in conjunction with Telepictures Productions and had shown interest in launching a website featuring a focus mainly on celebrities.[11] At the time of the launch, AOL confirmed that the site would primarily feature and consist of Hollywood gossip, including interviews, photos and video footage of celebrities and information pertaining to industry news on movies, television shows, etc.[11] The site was described as "an effort to further feed the current American obsession with celebrities". Mike Shields of wrote, "the site also boasts of an expansive collection of archived star photos and videos", allowing fans to "trace changing hairlines and waistlines of their favorites performers over the years".[11]


Since 2005, TMZ has signed Revlon, Chrysler, Hilton Hotels and New Line Cinema as charter advertisers to their Web site.[11] The New York Times cited TMZ as "one of the most successful online ventures of the last few years."[12] In October 2008, the New York Times reported that TMZ, at the time, was receiving more than 10 million viewers every month.[12] ranked TMZ as the five-hundred-fifth most trafficked website worldwide and as the one hundred-fifty-fifth most trafficked website in the United States.[13]

Levin has acknowledged that TMZ has passed on multiple notable coverage because he felt that, while the stories are true, he questioned how the sources obtained their information.[12] Levin has acknowledged that TMZ pays source, but in the form of a "tip fee". Levin stated that TMZ pays for photos and for 'tips' and or leads on stories, and defended TMZ's position by stating that the sources and tips are verified before being used and or reported.[7]

In November 2009, TMZ's revenue was publicly disclosed for the first time.[14] Telepictures (which TMZ is operated by) stated: "Subject to certain performance adjustments and the reimbursement of expenses, revenues are split evenly between the parties [...] Telepictures received payments of $6.2 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2009, and $12.7 million, $9.6 million and $3.0 million in 2008, 2007 and 2006, respectively."[14] Based on released figures, TMZ's revenues for 2008 was $25.4 million and is projected to have less revenue in the 2009 year with the revenue of $12.4 million in first three quarters of the year—unlike the previous year, which was within the $15 million range.[14]

On May 29, 2012, co-founder Jim Paratore died of a heart attack during a cycling trip in France. Paratore was known for his work in television production, producing several daytime and syndicated programs.

Notable coverage[edit]

TMZ was the first to break the story that actor Mel Gibson had been arrested for driving under the influence; he was later confirmed to have been driving with an illegal blood alcohol level. Along with posting the story about his arrest, TMZ also posted Gibson's mugshot (pictured above) and a handwritten four-out-of-eight page police report from the arresting police officer pertaining to Gibson's arrest.

On July 28, 2006, TMZ was the first to report that[3] actor Mel Gibson had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.[15] Along with releasing the story, TMZ also reported "exclusive details" about the case shortly after.[15] In the report TMZ posted, it contained his transport to the station and time in custody, and quoted an "anonymous law enforcement source", and published four pages of a handwritten arrest report, via a PDF file.[16] TMZ stated that the documents they posted were part of the original eight-page report which was written by the arresting officer,[17] before the officer was allegedly instructed, by his superiors, to omit the inflammatory details about Gibson's alleged anti-Semitic comments and behavior.[18]

On November 7, 2006, TMZ was the first to report that pop-singer Britney Spears had filed a petition for divorce from then-husband Kevin Federline.[3]

On May 3, 2007, TMZ was the first to break the story, and exclusively obtain documents, stating that socialite Paris Hilton would be sentenced to forty-five days in jail as her sentencing for driving with a suspended license after losing her license from driving under the influence of alcohol four months prior.[19]

TMZ was the first to publish a police photo, which at the time was being considered for evidence, of pop-singer Rihanna after an altercation with her then-boyfriend Chris Brown in February 2009. TMZ stated they had obtained the photo legally, but wouldn't say how.

On February 22, 2009, TMZ released what has been identified as a police evidence photo of pop-singer Rihanna after she was assaulted by now ex-partner Chris Brown.[3] Shortly after the photo's release, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) announced that it was investigating the leak and 'possible sale of the photo of Rihanna with a bruised and battered face after TMZ published them because the photo had been considered evidence. TMZ has claimed it obtained the photo legally but has not said how it came into possession of the photo.[20] In the aftermath of the release of the photo, in May of the same year, a 'law', referred to as 'Rihanna Law', entitled "STOParazzi", was made[20] The 'law'; because of the "spurred" release of the photo, aims to prevent victim exploitation.[20]

On February 24, 2009, TMZ was the first to break the story that,[3] out of the $1.6 billion Chicago's Northern Trust Bank received in federal bailout money (which they never requested and were hesitant to accept [21]), recipients of the money subsequently spent non-TARP dollars (dollars that were already allocated for the Northern Trust Open prior to the Capital Purchse Program [22]) entertaining clients in Los Angeles at venues like the House of Blues that featured performances by Chicago, Earth Wind and Fire, and Sheryl Crow and gift bags from Tiffany & Co.[23] Shortly after TMZ published the story, United States Congressman Barney Frank demanded that Northern Trust repay the money it received in the bailout. Northern Trust CEO Frederick Waddell sent a letter to members of the House Financial Services Committee, stating that the bank will repay the money "as quickly as prudently possible", although at the time Congress had not yet provided provisions for the repayment of TARP funds, thus delaying the process.[24] When Northern Trust was finally allowed to repay the TARP money on June 17, 2009, taxpayers received a 14% return on the investment, beating all major market indices over the same time period.[25]

TMZ was the first to break the report of the death of Michael Jackson on June 25, 2009.[26][27] The report was treated with caution by mainstream media sources at the time, despite being cited on rolling news channels. TMZ's scoop beat the major broadcast and cable news outlets by almost 3 hours, until CNN finally confirmed the story as well. Part of this delay was later explained as the other outlets' "stricter confirmation standards,"[7] but Levin said, during an interview with Huffington Post, that TMZ, at the time of posting the subject, verified the story and sources. "Well, before it was officially announced. We really knew this significantly before even what was going on, but this was, you know, crossing every t. We were positive when we put it up. We put it up when we were 100% positive."[28] TMZ were also the first to receive the coroner's report of the singer on February 8, 2010, proving Propofol dosage and negligence killed the pop legend.[29]

TMZ was also the first to break the news of the death of Brittany Murphy on December 20, 2009.[30]

Legal problems[edit]

Contempt of court motion[edit]

On June 20, 2007, a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee filed an emergency motion[31] requesting that the Web site be held in contempt for its publication of the entire manuscript of If I Did It, O.J. Simpson's purportedly fictionalized account of the murder of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson.[32] The filing claims that TMZ's posting of the PDF of the entire book has "diminished or destroyed" the value, which the Goldman family eventually published as Simpson's confession to the murders.[32]

Photographer altercation[edit]

While actor Woody Harrelson was at New York City's La Guardia Airport, he had an altercation with a photographer for TMZ.[33] Harrelson defended himself stating that he'd at the time just finished filming his scenes from the horror film, that consists mainly of zombies, Zombieland, and that he was "startled" by the TMZ photographer. "I wrapped a movie called Zombieland, in which I was constantly under assault by zombies, then flew to New York, still very much in character ... With my daughter at the airport I was startled by a paparazzo, who I quite understandably mistook for a zombie."[33]

Blocked in the UK[edit]

On December 24, 2010 the gossip blog Oh No They Didn't reported that TMZ began to block traffic from the United Kingdom, displaying the message: "Due to laws within your region, you are unable to view this website." Asked for further comment, TMZ responded that the blocking was due to "legal restrictions".[34] The UK website Popbitch Board noted on December 31, 2010 that it is possible to get round the block by accessing the website through the Google Translate website. As of January 7, 2011, TMZ is accessible to the UK.[35]


TMZ Live[edit]

TMZ Live is a live-chat program from TMZ that features Harvey Levin and Charles Latibeaudiere, and occasionally Mike Walters and Dax Holt[36] filling in for one or both of them. [36] The "TMZ Live" TV show and Internet show review information TMZ is covering on the website. The live-chat takes place at the TMZ office.[37] From Monday to Friday. The live show is an hour TV show and is later posted as an Internet show.

In March 2012, Fox Broadcasting Company tested TMZ Live for TV broadcast with two markets in Los Angeles and Phoenix. The television show is edited for content and not shown live. In June 2012, SiriusXM Radio announced that the show would be aired daily on its Sirius XM Stars channel. In October of the same year, the television show was expanded to seven markets, adding Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit and Minneapolis. On September 9, 2013 TMZ Live began airing on all 18 FOX owned stations.[38][39]

TMZ on TV[edit]

On September 10, 2007, TMZ launched an accompanying television series, entitled TMZ on TV.[40][41][42] The syndicated television series airs from Monday to Friday, similar to the TMZ Live.[43]

In the United States, the show airs in various timeslots on various stations, mainly either in early primetime or after late local news, with a 'best-of' program airing during weekends.[44] The show covers stories similar to the website and TMZ Live, with the only difference being that TMZ on TV is only on TV and the other two branches are only on the web. TMZ offers viewers the option of being able to watch full episodes from the show on their website after the episode's air-date.[45] Chris Persell, of, stated that the show is a "complement [to] the Web site, with news updates added to later airings of the show".[46] Levin and Jim Paratore served as executive producers to the show, and the on-air cast included Teresa Strasser, John Fugelsang, Ben Mankiewicz and Michael Hundgen.[46] David Bianculli of The New York Daily News strongly criticized the television show, its topics, and what he sees as its reporters' tactics and lack of professionalism.[41]

Dax Chat[edit]

Live chat on Ustream hosted by TMZ staffer Dax Holt. Every week day at 1pm pst Dax Holt speaks to Dax chatters known as "Chizzlers"[47] about celebrity gossip and articles that have been posted on the TMZ website.[48]


Victory Studios in Glendale, California (pictured here in 2007), is where TMZ was launched. TMZ later relocated to Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles. Since April 2013 TMZ is located at 13031 W. Jefferson Blvd. in Los Angeles.[49]

Since the launch of TMZ, the website has faced criticism, varying from attempted boycotts to criticism of its journalism tactics to its website's focus. The TMZ website has been criticized for its usage of photographs and videos obtained from paparazzi.[33][50][51] Some have questioned the effect that aggressive and obtrusive photographers have on the subjects they cover.[51] Many of their videos on the site show, in the footage, that their paparazzi chase people (mainly celebrities)—a practice that has been called dangerous[51] and "creepy".[50] Over the years, some have called for a boycott of TMZ and the accompanying show.[52]

TMZ faced strong criticism for purchasing stolen items pertaining to the fourth Indiana Jones film; Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.[53] On October 2, 2007, IESB reported that a number of production photos and sensitive documents pertaining to the production budget had been stolen from Steven Spielberg's production office.[54] Movie City News, which strongly criticized TMZ for purchasing stolen items, remarked that the then-new website "wasn't getting off to a good start".[53] According to IESB, TMZ had obtained some of the stolen property and was planning on running a story about the topic on their TV show, until the film's production company, Paramount Pictures, lawyers intervened. Shortly after IESB broke the story, TMZ broadcast details about the Indiana Jones production budget on TMZ on TV on the October 3, 2007.[53][55]

TMZ has been heavily criticized for constantly reporting on Paris Hilton (left) and Lindsay Lohan (right), both of whom have been more known for their personal lives rather than their occupations. Tony Manfred, of The Cornell Daily Sun felt that TMZ's coverage of Hilton and Lohan was because of a "personality cult". Levin defended TMZ's coverage, explaining that Hilton and Lohan, in particular, are reported on because of their relevance.

Tony Manfred of The Cornell Daily Sun strongly criticized TMZ in an article entitled "I Want My TMZ", in which Manfred criticizes various aspects of TMZ.[50] Manfred described TMZ as being "a fusion of celebrity news blog and embarrassing video archive" and felt that the website had become "the poster child for the celebrity pseudo-news industry" and that the website has "distinct advantages" over "gossip magazines" because it can "show all the borderline pornographic clips that Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood can’t."[50] Manfred also noted that he felt that the website was "balanced", remarking that: "And by balanced I mean they strike a perfect equilibrium between three distinct categories of trashy video clip. I’ll group these videos into the following categories: the 'Action Caused Either Entirely or More Than Partly By Alcohol,' the 'Celebrity Car Chase,' and the 'You’re Not Famous but You’re Near a Camera So Okay'".[50]

Jennifer Metz and David Muir of ABC News acknowledged that TMZ has long been criticized for their "aggressive tactics, antagonizing stars with video cameras" and noted that those "encounters, capturing at times violent celebrity confrontations with photographers, receive hundreds of hits online, and critics ask if entertainment reporters are crossing the line."[51] Metz and Muir also questioned whether TMZ's tactics 'go too far'.[51]

Ken Sunshine, publicist for Ben Affleck and Leonardo DiCaprio, stated that his clients disliked the website because it has a tendency to always be negative towards celebrities when reporting on them. "I hate that they have anything to do with trying to put celebrities into the worst light possible and that they play the 'gotcha' game".[10] The website has been harshly criticized for having a personality cult of figures such as Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton – celebrities who are known more as targets for paparazzi than for the work they do.[50] In defense for TMZ's coverage, Levin said that certain celebrities are main subjects on the Web site because of their 'relevancy' and because their relevancy helps draw viewership to the Web site.[56] Liz Kelly, of Washington Post, attacked both Levin and TMZ in an article, stating: "I know this is like spitting in the wind, but I have to say it: Harvey Levin, please stop it."[33]

In what The Smoking Gun called "a colossal screw-up", TMZ published an "exclusive" picture on their Web site of a man purported to be John F. Kennedy on a ship with several naked women that could have "changed history" had it come out during his presidential campaign.[57] Despite having a Photoshop expert proclaiming the picture as "authentic", the picture was later discovered to have not been of Kennedy at all. The photo was discovered to have been part of a Playboy photoshoot from November 1967, which was later confirmed by Playboy representatives.[58][59]

On the week of January 16, 2013, Andre Lowe was killed outside of a nightclub in Hollywood. A nearby reporter from TMZ ended up filming the attack and it was posted to the website without permission of the family.[60] The family of Lowe started a campaign on to have TMZ take down the video and article about him.[61] On January 22, 2013, TMZ ended up taking the video down after over two dozen advertisers revoked ads for the website because of the campaign.[62][63]


  1. ^ People who view are given the option to be able to register; i.e. as a "user" or "member".
  2. ^ "Jim Paratore, TMZ Founder, Dies at 58". TMZ. 2012-05-29. Retrieved July 2, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e TMZ Staff (2009-11-08). "TMZ -- Pretty Mature for a 4-Year-Old". TMZ. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  4. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  5. ^ Newsweek Web Exclusive (2006-08-01). "Newsweek, What's a TMZ?". Archived from the original on 2008-01-09. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  6. ^ "Harvey Levin Top 49 2008". Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  7. ^ a b c CNN (2009-08-02). "CNN's Reliable Sources 8/2/2009". Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  8. ^ "A breakthrough victory for new program". The Irish Times. 2009-06-06. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  9. ^ "Michael Jackson death news: Online activity heats up Twitter and Google, slows down some sites". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  10. ^ a b Donna Freydkin (2006-08-01). "Handed a 'smoking gun', TMZ's Levin ran with it". Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  11. ^ a b c d Mike Shields (2005-12-05). "AOL-Time Warner Launches". Archived from the original on 2006-02-19. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  12. ^ a b c Michael Cieply (2008-10-25). "A Star Watcher Has Star Power". Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  13. ^ " - Site Info From Alexa". Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  14. ^ a b c Rafat Ali (2009-11-16). "With AOL Spinoff, TMZ To Move To Time Warner/Telepictures, As Expected; $25M 2008". Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  15. ^ a b "EXCLUSIVE: Mel Gibson Busted for DUI". TMZ Staff. 2006-07-28. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  16. ^ TMZ Staff. "Gibson police report". TMZ. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  17. ^ "Arresting Deputy James Mee". 2006-08-01. Retrieved 2009-11-26. [dead link]
  18. ^ TMZ Staff (2006-07-28). "Gibson's Anti-Semitic Tirade -- Alleged Cover Up". TMZ. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  19. ^ TMZ Staff (2007-05-03). "Paris 45 Days in the Clink?". TMZ. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  20. ^ a b c Gil Kaufman (2009-05-25). "'Rihanna's Law,' Spurred By Photo Leak, Aims To Prevent Victim Exploitation". Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  21. ^ "Northern Trust CEO Tells Barney Frank to Shove It". 2009-02-29. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  22. ^ "Northern Trust Statement". TMZ. 2009-02-29. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  23. ^ TMZ Staff (2009-02-24). "Bailout Bank Blows Millions Partying in L.A.". TMZ. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  24. ^ "Northern Trust to return government bailout money: Chicago-based bank says it will monitor entertainment spending after criticism of golf event activities". 2009-04-11. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  25. ^ Kouwe, Zachery (2009-08-26). "Northern Trust Pays Back TARP Warrants". Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  26. ^ "Michael Jackson Dies". Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  27. ^ Collins, Scott; James, Meg (2009-07-01). "Michael Jackson may be turning point for TMZ". Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  28. ^ Nicholas Graham (2009-07-06). "TMZ's Harvey Levin On Jackson Scoop: "We Just Beat Everybody On This One... Too Bad, So Sad" (VIDEO)". Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  29. ^ "Michael Jackson Coroner Report - House of Drugs". TMZ. 2010-02-08. Retrieved 2013-01-25. 
  30. ^ "Brittany Murphy dies". Retrieved 2009-12-20. 
  31. ^ "Contempt of Court filing against TMZ regarding If I Did It". 2007-06-20. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  32. ^ a b "A Contemptuous Act?". 2007-06-20. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  33. ^ a b c d Thane Burnett (2009-05-12). "Caught on camera". Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  34. ^ "TMZ blocks visitors in UK". Oh No They Didn't. Retrieved 2010-12-30. 
  35. ^ Levin Twitter re TMZ accessibility in UK again as of January 7, 2011
  36. ^ a b All on occasions. TMZ Live chats involve Harvey Levin (the websites editor.
  37. ^ Harvey Levin confirmed, during a TMZ live chat, that the live chat takes place in TMZ's office.
  38. ^ TMZ Staff (September 9, 2013). "Lamar Odom 'Roommate' Says ... I Saw Him Do Crack". TMZ. Retrieved September 9, 2013. 
  39. ^ Eck, Kevin (August 12, 2013). "FOX Adds ‘TMZ Live’ To All Its Owned Stations". Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  40. ^ Jon Dempsey (2007-09-17). "'TMZ' TV debuts strong despite falter". Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  41. ^ a b David Bianculli (2007-09-11). "On 'TMZ on TV,' beware snark attack". Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  42. ^ Matthew Gilbert (2007-09-14). "'TMZ' on TV? It's 'ET' without TLC.". Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  43. ^ TMZ on TV air-date schedule
  44. ^ "TMZ When It's On". 2007-09-10. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  45. ^ "TMZ On TV". TMZ. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  46. ^ a b Chris Pursell (2007-08-12). "Talent Lineup Unveiled for Telepictures' 'TMZ'". Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  47. ^ Urban Dictionary: chizzler
  48. ^ "Dax Chat, Ustream.TV: Chat here live with Dax Holt from TMZ Monday - Friday at 1pm PST / 4pm ET. Overig amusement". Retrieved 2013-01-25. 
  49. ^ "TMZ to Exit West Hollywood Headquarters for New Westside Office". Retrieved April 19, 2013. 
  50. ^ a b c d e f Tony Manfred (2007-09-16). "I want my TMZ". Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  51. ^ a b c d e Jennifer Metz and David Muir (2009-06-27). "TMZ Ahead of the Curve, but Do Tactics Go Too Far?". ABC Retrieved 2009-12-02. 
  52. ^ Nguyen, Katherine (207-01-21). "On Paparazzi Patrol With". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 2009-12-02. 
  53. ^ a b c "When It Gets Interesting". Movie City News. 2007-10-03. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  54. ^ "Indiana Jones and the Secret of the Stolen Set Photos!". 2009-10-02. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  55. ^ "Why Won't They Tell The Indy IV Theft Story Accurately?". 2007-10-04. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  56. ^ TMZ (2009-11-25). "TMZ Live - 11/25/09 Part 3". TMZ. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  57. ^ TMZ (2009-12-28). "The JFK Photo That Have Changed History". TMZ. Retrieved 2009-12-28. 
  58. ^ The Smoking Gun (2009-12-28). "TMZ falls for JFK Photo Hoax". Retrieved 2009-12-28. 
  59. ^ TMZ (2009-12-28). "Kennedy Picture -- A Fake?". TMZ. Retrieved 2009-12-28. 
  60. ^ Josh Halliday (2013-01-17). "TMZ video of murder condemned by victim's family | Media |". Guardian. Retrieved 2013-01-25. 
  61. ^
  62. ^ Posted: 01/23/2013 1:48 pm EST. "TMZ Graphic Footage Of Andre Lowe's Death Edited In Response To Petition From Family". Retrieved 2013-01-25. 
  63. ^ Josh Halliday. "TMZ takes down footage of Andre Lowe shooting following complaints | Media |". Guardian. Retrieved 2013-01-25. 

External links[edit]