TMZ DC: Adventures in Political Flab?
The hot website TMZ.com specializes in exposing celebrity flab--sagging rear-ends, fallen faces, unedited rants, unexpurgated divorce files. Now that the site is planning a D.C. version of the product, the natural question is, Do we really have enough dirt and muck to support TMZ's "shocking new details" jones?
TMZ relies heavily on paparazzi pix, and while there is a healthy freelance photography scene in Washington, they're mostly not the sort who spend their hours scheming on how to gain access to a good view of a junior senator's backyard pool. But the bigger question here is, Do Washington's celebs do enough outrageous stuff to fill an all-salacious site, and even if they do, would anyone care?
Sure, you could pay some low-rent paparazzi to follow Marion Barry around and you'd eventually hit upon some web-worthy content, but let's be real--the man is 71 years old, and if he's the only name you can absolutely count on for SDRR content, maybe your business model needs a stronger foundation.
There's no doubt that Washington gossips love the stuff our pols produce--the gossip industry hereabouts has blossomed in recent years, from the Post's Reliable Source to the various Wonkette imitators and the boldface names columns in the several Hill-ish papers. But TMZ traffics in a lower rung of copy than, say, Vanity Fair, and it will take our collective imaginations to come up with a sufficiently meaty menu of material for them. They could cover drunken Hill aides partying in G-town, or the incestuous political bloggers scene at the cafes along 17th Street NW, or the young journos who still smoke the evil weed with their unreconstructed elders at bookish Friday night parties, or the pols who slyly get the D.C. school system to pay their private school tuition by using a fake District home address and hiring a lawyer who specializes in special education claims. But this is not exactly sexy stuff.
"Washington is where the term 'celebrity' includes former surgeons general, defense lawyers and Pat Buchanan," Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) told the LA Times. "TMZ is going to be bored out of its mind. The only thing keeping TMZ in D.C. for more than a week would be its lease."
Some TMZ staples just wouldn't translate to Washington: You could do a D.C. version of the obligatory celebs at the swimming pool shots, but they would be real ugly, perhaps uglier even than TMZ could handle. You could focus on the wonderfully deep reservoir of documents that this city holds, finding all manner of treasures in the FBI files and in the various courthouses, but thesmokinggun has very nicely cornered that market, and it seems rather too highbrow for TMZ (the site is named for the 30-mile celebrity zone around Los Angeles).
Ok, you're the editor of TMZ-Washington: Give me your story list for this week....
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