Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Heil, Harvey! (Oops. TMZ did it again!)

Leave it to the corporate porn-pushing gossip site TMZ.com to ruin somebody’s Christmas and reputation, only squirm away from responsibility on its own oily snailtrail. And leave it to frontman Harvey Levin to expose himself by revealing that he and his boys in their West Hollywood garret still have a thing or two to learn about Hollywood, tabloid and Jews.

It all began on the afternoon of Christmas Eve when Harvey's web team blew out the office candles after leaving a smelly package on the Internet doorstep, headlined:

Will Smith -- Hitler, Schmitler;
He Wasn't That Bad

The story (we can't find the exact verbiage—it’s been changed several times in the past day and a half) claimed “a leading Jewish group is kvetching loudly about Will Smith's recent suggestion that Adolf Hitler wasn't all bad.”

The leading Jewish group? The JDL. As in Jewish Defense League, the extreme militant group that in the past has been criticized by the real leading Jewish group, the Anti-Defamation League— the ADL-- for presenting a "gross distortion" of the real situation of American Jews. Put it this way: calling the JDL a "a leading Jewish group" is the equivalent of a major news organization citing TMZ as a serious news source.



And of course the JDL statement wouldn’t have gotten much traction or attention if not for TMZ’s exuberance in branding Will Smith the new Mel Gibson. And that's where TMZ went very wrong. They didn’t have Will saying anything about Hitler on tape. One of the TMZ thugs with a home video camera didn’t goad Will into saying something stupid as he stumbled out of a Hollywood nightspot (remember Chelsea Handler).

No, the quote is attributed to “a Scottish paper.”

Harvey, listen up.

First rule of tabloid: Never cite a British— especially not a Scottish (or Irish-- see Tiger Woods) tabloid— as a source when setting out to smear anyone's hardwon reputation (let alone the star of the #1 movie). In this case, the Daily Record article didn’t even make hay out of the the alleged quote. It was buried in the final graphs:

Remarkably, Will believes everyone is basically good.

"Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today'," said Will. "I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good'. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming.

"I wake up every day full of hope, positive that every day is going to be better than yesterday. And I'm looking to infect people with my positivity. I think I can start an epidemic."

That's the quote-- if you believe the quote is accurate. And today, Smith's people are apparently disputing that, but too late, because TMZ's already infected the media and started a TMZ-positive epidemic.

And, as usual, the morning, as TMZ’s corporate overlords awaken from their holiday to see that the weekend crew has gone and done it again, harming clients from other tentacles of the megaconglomerate, Harvey’s cowardly idiots are in full, vulgar, backtrack mode:

Will Smith -- Reporters Just Don't Understand

Will Smith is slamming a Scottish paper -- after one of its reporters twisted a quote he gave about Adolf Hitler in an interview -- and kicked up an unnecessary Internet s**tstorm.

Smith called the The Daily Record's quote "an awful and disgusting lie," and through his rep said he is "incensed and infuriated to have to respond to such a ludicrous misinterpretation. Adolf Hitler was a vile, heinous vicious killer responsible for one of the greatest acts of evil committed on his planet." Men in backtrack!

But the best line is saved for last. After kicking up its own “unnecessary s**tstorm,” TMZ is finally doing its reportorial diligence— picking up the phone to confirm the story before going with it:

TMZ called the Daily Record, and we're trying to reach the reporter, Siobhan Synnot, whose byline is on the offending article, but haven't heard back.

We'll see how this plays out.

In any case, it’s a fitting way to wrap up a year in which TMZ turned Hollywood tabloid into a slimy, ugly and irresponsible attack game that’s played for blood on the Internet and whitewashed into partyboy giggly irrelevance in the TV version that the corporate bosses get to see.

Hard to believe that only a year or so ago, it seemed that Nick Denton’s Defamer site was redefining the form into something witty and smart, with well-written inside dirt from assistants and other disgruntled Hollywood underlings. But in 2007, Defamer slid into laziness (perhaps a result of Denton’s penurious payment policies or pharmaceuticals), devolving into little more than a forum for young gay slackers who sit on their couch all day watching The View, Oprah and Ellen and picking up the laptop during commercials to regurgitate the campest moments.

Oh well. We're still here. And watching. Harvey.

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