Celeb gossip is a hot ticket

Consumers eat it up, and accuracy isn't important

Here's a shocker: Celebrity gossip is so popular -- and lucrative -- that facts need not get in the way of a juicy story.

Not exactly revelatory, but coming from a couple of top executives responsible for the dissemination of celebrity news, it might be a bit disconcerting.

"Access Hollywood" executive producer Rob Silverstein and Yahoo Entertainment GM Sibyl Goldman agreed Wednesday that fake is almost as good as real, from the consumers' perspective.

And perspective is important. Silverstein stressed that his show's dedication to the truth is unshakable, adhering to the same guidelines as any other NBC news program. He also noted occasions where he has sacrificed an exclusive story in the interest of taking an extra day or two for confirmation.

Consumers, though, don't care so much about the accuracy of their celebrity news, as long as they can be part of the conversation.

Silverstein and Goldman were among the 30 speakers at the first EconCeleb conference Wednesday in Hollywood.

"People just want to be in the know," Silverstein said. "They want to know what others are talking about."

He said "Access Hollywood" will take advantage of all the misinformation about celebrities by debuting in September a feature it calls TGIF -- This Gossip is False.

As for Yahoo, it isn't in the business of breaking news itself, only offering it from various sources. Goldman said she has noticed that sometimes a correction or clarification of a celebrity news story is just as popular as the original, inaccurate reporting.

"Mistakes are big business," she said. "People love reading retractions."

About 200 people paid $400 apiece to attend the half-day EconCeleb, put on by ContentNext Media. Guardian Media Group, parent of U.K.'s Guardian newspaper, purchased ContentNext this month for $30 million.
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