Get the Lowdown on Syndicated Entertainment News

Harvey Levin

Judging by the continuing popularity of the “gossip column” it seems that the American (and global) public has always held a special fascination when it comes to stories about the “rich and famous.” This sort of reporting took root with the establishment of the Hollywood film community, and was honed in print, radio (and later television), by such masters of the art as Walter Winchell, Hedda Hopper, Louella Parsons, Jimmie Fidler, and Rhonda Barret. The popularity of this form of journalism refuses to wan even slightly in the 21st Century, with millions of Americans still craving large daily rations of celebrity dirt dishing. Especially notable is “TMZ” (short for Thirty Mile Zone, and referring to an area of Hollywood where the major movie production studios are clustered). Fulfilling this need is “TMZ Live,” a one-hour live daily production that has evolved from a website with postings of celebrity news into a major Fox Television property.

This internet/television hybrid format rolled out some five years ago, and has emerged as a top-rated talk show in FOX Television markets among the 25 to 54-year-old age group. It’s been renewed for the 2016–17 season and its popularity shows no signs of slowing down at all.


Frank Cicha

NAB Show attendees wanting to explore this programming genre are invited to join the two entertainment industry executives behind it — Frank Cicha, senior vice president of programming for FOX Television stations, and Harvey Levin, TMZ creator and executive producer — in today’s Super Session, “The Real Story: A Take on Syndicated Entertainment News With FOX TV’s Frank Cicha and TMZ’s Harvey Levin.”

The twosome promise to provide an upclose look at how the show’s debut pushed boundaries at FOX stations, what it takes to put together a typical show, and much more.

“Good or bad, people are fascinated by celebrity,” said Cicha in explaining the continuing popularity of “TMZ Live.” In addition, he acknowledged that “TMZ is [also] more voyeuristic and less promotional” than other such celebrity reporting efforts.

Levin noted that “TMZ Live” was several years in the making, and involved identifying and uniquely combining the strong points of both the World Wide Web and conventional television.

“We’re trying to blend TV and the internet by taking assets from both and seamlessly weaving them into a global conversation,” said Levin.

The show is a unique amalgamation of conventional news dispatches, coupled with telephone, Skype, Facebook and Twitter input from a global community of viewers, as well as involvement from some of the celebrities who are featured in the stories being aired.

Session attendees will get the lowdown from Cicha and Levin about how all of this consistently comes together to make “TMZ Live” the success that it is.

The session promises to be both informative and entertaining, as Cicha is well known for his wit in the form of one-liners. (Asked about who should attend the session and what their takeaway would be, he responded: “At the very least I’d expect people [to be there] whose rooms aren’t ready. The takeaway would be next time try early check-in.”)

Don’t miss hearing Cicha and Levin “tell all” about their new internet/conventional television hybrid form of programming.