Thursday, August 16, 2007
Meet Harvey Levin's TMZ TV costars
These are the faces of the TMZ TV series. As expected, and as we reported, TMZ editor, former local TV news reporter, host search committee leader and TV show "executive producer" Harvey Levin has managed to insert himself into the on-air mix as "Main on-air personality." He's done a clever job by picking younger co-stars who are as plug-ugly as himself-- and with "newsy" backgrounds that distance the TV show from the sleazy corporate porn-pushing gossip site it will elevate.
But Ben Mankiewicz, Teresa Strasser and Katie Daryl, seen above, (along with "TMZ.com staffer" Michael Hundgen, whose work can be seen here) could also be trouble-- and not only because they're more suited to radio or cable than syndicated television. Harvey and the TMZ TV minds seem to be equating plain and non-flashy appearances with real tabloid authority. This group might look the part, but whether they bring any tabloid legitimacy to the table is another story altogether. In the end, there's no Arthel Neville, no Doug Bruckner-- no one who knows the territory, only younger faces that match the decor.
Ben's a leftie with intellectual pretensions, Teresa's an Adam Carolla strawlady with smartypants showbiz pretensions, and Katie-- well, we don't know who the hell Katie is, except they're pushing her role on an MTV politics special.
Ben is the kid brother of NBC Dateline's tabloid reporter Josh Mankiewicz, and the host of a liberal morning talk radio show on Air America.
He also hosts a cartoon show on the Turner Classic Movies channel-- and comes from a line of Hollywood royalty, being the grandson of famed screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz and great-nephew of screenwriter, producer and director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. How does the family of writers react to TMZ.com's cheap, smarmy way with words?
Teresa is one of the girls from the Jimmy Kimmel camp, inserted into the execrable Carolla radio show as the sexless "Jewish" (their word) newsreader who's rebelled by generating sparks with cohost and show stealer Danny Bonaduce. She soaks in the lunkhead lowbrow humour that TMZ and Carolla's show share, but fancies herself a wit.
And Katie (below)? Well, she looks like Harvey's idea of the sexy blonde. Get the 13-week clock ready.
(Meanwhile, Page Six reports that "after the co-executive producer Bryn Friedman was canned last week, rumors started swirling that the start-up program could be in trouble. 'Bryn was the scapegoat of a riff between the executive producers, Harvey Levin and Jim Paratore,' our spy said. 'They've been fighting because there is no show and no set and the launch is just weeks away. 'But Levin told us, "I don't know what you're talking about - the set is the newsroom and I love Jim, he's like my brother! And while I'm on the show, there is an ensemble cast. It is different than a traditional magazine show."' As for Friedman? 'I like Bryn. I'm not going to discuss (firing her).' Friedman... has been in touch with celebrity lawyer Marty Singer..."
(Losing a "mainstream," "straight news" veteran like Friedman (we told you a few days ago about her misgivings) is a real blow for Harvey's quest for credibility. And his lies about the circumstances surrounding the show's troubled start-up don't bode well for expectations of candor and legitimacy for TMZ TV. )