- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
The deal will see the notorious tabloid founded by Harvey Levin operate under the Fox broadcast network umbrella. In addition to its websites, TMZ has also had a syndicated TV series, TMZ on TV, since 2007, and a spinoff series TMZ Sports on FS1. Fox’s owned and operated stations were the launch partner for the syndicated show, and keep airing the program, which had been earlier renewed through the 2022-2023 season.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but someone familiar with the sale pegged the value of the deal to The Hollywood Reporter at less than $50 million.
Levin will keep running the day-to-day operations of TMZ, and will report to Rob Wade, Fox Entertainment’s president of alternative entertainment and specials. Levin has signed a multi-year deal with Fox as part of the sale, according to someone familiar with the terms. According to another source, Levin had told WarnerMedia executives that he was unlikely to stick around with the company if it continued under the WarnerMedia umbrella, and Fox quickly emerged as the only realistic buyer, which may explain the somewhat surprising valuation.
In addition to the digital brands (including all the websites TMZ operates, like TooFab.com) and the TV shows, Fox will also operate the company’s tour bus business in Los Angeles. Fox’s in-house syndication arm, Fox First Run, will oversee sales for TMZ, and the company says it plans to “further market and monetize the TMZ brand across its station group; ad-supported streamer, Tubi; and other Fox-owned platforms.”
Fox has been on a bit of a spending spree in recent months. In May it bought the sports site Outkick from founder Clay Travis, and last month it announced an investment in the blockchain company Eluvio, which will power the company’s Blockchain Creative Labs, which it is backing with a $100 million investment.
Levin founded TMZ in 2005, and continues to serve as its managing editor, delivering Hollywood scoops and rumors. The company gained notoriety for its unflinching scoops, which included being the first to report on the deaths of Michael Jackson and Prince, and Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic rant. As it shifted toward TV and video, it became known for its ambush interview style, with a camera crew (or sometimes an individual with an iPhone, surprising celebrities on the street and asking questions).
Under the ownership of Fox, TMZ, which created a new form of tabloid journalism for the digital age, will be owned by Rupert Murdoch, who redefined the genre through his ownership of newspapers like the New York Post, the U.K.’s The Sun, and Australia’s Daily Telegraph.
And just as the Post’s Page Six became a place for Hollywood and New York’s elite to leak negative stories about perceived enemies and crow about their success, TMZ famously forged industry relationships of its own. Donald Trump, years before he was elected president, was a regular in both.
Fox tried to use the Page Six brand to launch something of a companion show to TMZ in 2018 with Page Six TV, but that effort was canceled after two seasons.
It also brings TMZ under the same corporate umbrella as Fox News, which is unlikely to boost TMZ’s popularity among Hollywood talent and executives. Both TMZ and Fox News launched as crusaders against the status quo in cable news and gossip news, backed by major mainstream media companies, but embracing a point-of-view that was absent from existing offerings.
“The unique and powerful brand Harvey has created in TMZ has forever changed the entertainment industry and we’re excited to welcome them to Fox,” said Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corp. “TMZ has been an impactful program for our Fox television stations and broadcast partners for many years, and I know Jack Abernethy and Charlie Collier will find creative ways to utilize and expand this content in effective and compelling ways for our audiences.”
“Harvey Levin created a groundbreaking destination for entertainment news, and for the past 15+ years TMZ has celebrated great success,” said Channing Dungey, chairman of the Warner Bros. Television Group, in a statement. “TMZ will now be more closely aligned with the distributor of the popular content they create, and WarnerMedia wishes Harvey and everyone on the team the best as they venture into a new partnership with the talented team at Fox.”
WarnerMedia parent company AT&T, meanwhile, has been offloading “non-core” assets to help pay down its 5G wireless spectrum-driven debt load.
Aside from WarnerMedia, which it intends to spin off in a deal with Discovery Inc., the telecom giant has spun off its DirecTV and UVerse businesses, sold its Crunchyroll anime streaming business and its stake in Game Show network to Sony, and sold off a few of its European and Latin America divisions.
The name TMZ stands for “Thirty-Mile Zone,” a 30-mile area in Los Angeles used by the entertainment industry to determine compensation, rules and working conditions for production staff.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day