Ray Richmond, the straight-talking, hard-hitting, Pulitzer-worthy entertainment columnist for The Hollywood Reporter, has delivered a devastating counterpunch to the corporate porn-pushing gossip site TMZ on his Past Deadline site this afternoon.
The post is entitled:
Not to Mince Words,
But TMZ is the Antichrist.
This pointed commentary from a man known as the conscience of the industry is sure to ruin more than a few expensive lunches this afternoon as it send shockwaves through the celebutainment industry-- and could finally put the brakes on a wrongheaded rampage that is only headed toward tragedy.
Ray's column was triggered by TMZ's flip and nasty handling of the death of Ray's former boss and friend, Merv Griffin.
Read the entire post here. But here are some highights:
My friend Burt Kearns at the superb blog Tabloid Baby has been righteously and rightfully taking the toxic and tactless gossip site TMZ.com to task for being the classless operation that it is. And suffice it to say, I second that. It's rather unfathomable that this attack-dog slice of cyberspace is backed by boatloads of AOL/Time Warner corporate cash, as it is so unctuous, sleazy and extreme that it's singlehandedly slicing a dagger through whatever credibility entertainment journalism had remaining. It's ruining things for those who are at least fighting to retain a measure of taste and sensitivity, as boss Harvey Levin and his TMZ possess none...
...I mean, you know you've crossed the line (actually, obliterated it is more like it) when a guy who runs a site called Tabloid Baby is pummeling your bottom-feeder style -- and he's right on target. Kearns believes TMZ "is giving tabloid a bad name." Good tabloid, he reasons, "has a sense of humor. It has a sense of humor and a sense of morality. Tabloid sticks up for the little guy. It doesn't make heroes out of villains. It's a form of journalism that speaks to the Average Joe." By contrast, he believes that TMZ boasts "stories and headlines that have been lewdly written...It's pervy and porny and crass and dirty and nasty and ugly."
Kearns also believes that TMZ is responding to the criticism from he and others by growing even more aggressive and relentless in looking to get a rise out of the celebrity community. He points to a recent provocation of, and confrontation with, comedian/actor Brad Garrett, using a self-created incident... to take a cheap shot at him on its site.
It's utterly unfair, as Garrett is -- from everything I've seen-- the most affable, jocular and cooperative of Hollywood personalities. But TMZ earns his stripes with a carefully calculated agenda of negativity and humiliation -- plumbing the depths of showbiz's underbelly to glorify whatever darkness can be strip-mined. It's sad and infuriating that it has come to this.