Illeana Douglas kinda has a point: "When I watch TMZ TV, it's so funny how they're all laughing as if it's exciting. 'Get this! I've got Vince Vaughan! He's at a newsstand! He's reading Playboy!' And then they all laugh, as if it's a story."
Yeah, it's a lot of nothing. But, in criticizing the show -- a show which, I think, is built on making fun of celebrities mostly for their lack of self-awareness -- doesn't she reveal her own lack of self-awareness: "why am I more interesting at the airport than feeding the homeless at St. Thomas Church?....I've been with Tom Arnold doing charity events--and it's funny, I didn't see any paparazzi around. I was with Sharon Stone handing out sleeping bags on Christmas Day, and I didn't see TMZ there. Why is that not as compelling as her having lunch at the Ivy?'"
Talk about your ill-timed name-dropping. And I'm still marveling at how subtly Douglas manages to recount her own good deeds. But the answer to her question is probably obvious to anyone who is not famous: celebrities are more interesting when they're not completely controlling their own image and message. A celebrity at a charity event is a standard photo op as old as Bette Davis selling war bonds. A celebrity going through airport security? That's a situation that can reveal true character. If people want to see Illeana and Tom helping the underprivileged, Access Hollywood and plenty of other shows will serve it up. Why would TMZ want to copy that business model?
I don't mean to be critical of Douglas. She's a talented actress and she cares what people think. She simply fails to take into account the existence of celebrities who aren't concerned about looking good or bad, who are famous merely for being famous and who make their living that way. These celebrities have pretty much made a mockery out of entertainment journalism and TMZ is a consequence of that.
Bright side: Entertainment Weekly's new branding. They are departing from the celebrity magazine model and focusing instead on achievement. They might become the anti-TMZ.