Snarky Celebrity 'News' Show Premieres Tonight

The “vast wasteland” that is television just got a little vaster., the Internet's top-ranked entertainment news site, will cross over into the realm of broadcasting this evening. The new television show, TMZ, is scheduled to debut in a whopping 98 percent of U.S. markets. 

USA Today calls the “snarkiest arbiter of celebrity entertainment news” in a September 10 article.  According to USA Today's writeup, has become a “guilty pleasure for celebrity gawkers” with “tongue-in-cheek humor over star tantrums, racy videos and illegal transgressions.”

TMZ producers hope their formula will translate well into television. managing editor Harvey Levin is quoted saying the TV version of TMZ is the “perfect antithesis to the fawning, PR-driven celebrity stories featured on typical entertainment TV.”

Actually, the perfect antithesis to those shows would be a program that doesn't continue to feed the celebrity-obsessed culture that drives coverage of Britney and Lindsey and Paris and Nicole.  Don't hold your breath in hope that TMZ will add a more highbrow flavor to the “entertainment news” menu or make any call for greater personal responsibility from the victims/celebrities it will be covering. 

But why shouldn't there be a market for TMZ's approach to “real Hollywood” stories, when even the “serious” news outlets can't get enough of celebrity-powered news?  The September 10 broadcast of CNN's American Morning couldn't help overanalyzing Britney Spears's MTV's Video Music Awards performance.  Over the weekend CBS and NBC had to weigh in on the “O-factor” in Oprah's “star studded” fundraiser event for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

No, it seems the American pop-culture consumer always has room for one more celebrity story.  Will producers manage to translate the millions of fans to TV show fans?  Stay tuned.  

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer for the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.