He follows the circus of the stars


Harvey Levin: Traditionally, nobody thought of a vibrant news organization online. It was all part of a TV show. When we broke the Mel Gibson story, we broke it at 8:32 on a Friday night. You can't do that on a TV show. When we get it right, we get it up. It's that simple. Because of that, I figured if we could aggressively chase stories and be accurate and fair, I felt we could win.

Levin: We constantly look at what we do. I'm really proud of it. We have broken more stories than any organization in entertainment times 10. They're important stories. Our intention certainly isn't to be mean. Have we occasionally done something where I look at it and say, "Oh god, we shouldn't have done that sentence"? Of course. You learn from that.

Levin: There's not one huge moment that I would say, "Oh my god, I can't believe we did that." Alec Baldwin's (obscenity-laced) voicemail, that story was something that I agonized over for a couple of days. I think we made the right decision on it. But it was a difficult one. There are a lot of difficult decisions you make. We have standards that we adhere to on this site that are as rigid as any news organization in America.

Levin: I didn't say it was important. I said we've done important stories. There's a huge difference. I think Mel Gibson was an important story. I think the stories we did about underage drinking by celebrities in Hollywood at clubs was a really important story. A lot of the stories, funny enough, that we did on Paris Hilton in jail, with the judge that just nailed her to make an example of her, they actually ended up being important stories with a message.

Levin: With the Web site there's no definition to it. It's not like you have the morning meeting at 6:30 and at 1 o'clock the show gets fed. The Web site is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It never stops. It is a beast. It is all-consuming. The day we turned the lights on at TMZ, I remember I had this panic attack. It just didn't occur to me until when we actually hit the switch and I thought, "Oh my god. This, now, will never stop."

Levin: One of the evolutions of the site is that we are involved more in pop culture than we were at the beginning. It's not just entertainment. We're going into other things. We have politics on the site. We have sports on the site. We have cooking on the site, where there's just interesting stories. It's a broader site than it was when we started. (partialdiff)