Bodacious Brands

TMZ managing editor Harvey Levin:

“Britney is gold, she is crack to our readers. Her life is a complete train-wreck and I thank God for her every day.”

Perez Hilton:

“I am not some safe, cookie cutter, queer-eye-for-the-straight-guy homo. I am dangerous. I am gonna push the envelope. I am gonna be who I am: a loud, gay Latino that has opinions and in my own way, subserviently, I am trying to make the world a better place.”

The Times on both coasts today outed two of the more pervasive online purveyors of salacious celebrity gossip and news. Perez Hilton, the saucier next-gen Gawker-type snarky blogger, and TMZ, e.g., Three Mile Zone (for celebs in L.A.) whose Warner Bros./AOL parentage probably serves as a libel-preventing restrictor plate, take their respective star turns in today’s editions of the The LA Times and New York Times.

In assessing television’s impact in 1963, Marshall McLuhan (pictured) said:

“With the new media, however, it is now possible to store and to translate everything; and as for speed, that is no problem. No further acceleration is possible this side of the light barrier” (McLuhan, Understanding Media – The Extensions of Man, 1963).

Well, not exactly. Further acceleration is possible judging from what NYT’s David Carr calls this “mashed-up form of journalism.” Mr. Levin:

“‘You are watching a soap opera serialized in real time. That is the beauty of the Web site. Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton really do go out almost every night and instead of waiting for some packaged version, you watch the raw version of it unfurl.”

He continued:

“We have created a vibrant news organization that is breaking news in real time. I think the model is changing to the point where in five years, the distinction between television and Internet will be meaningless. They’ll have to call it something else.'”

Mr. Hilton, whose real name is Mario Lavandeira and who once toiled as a publicist, has fast become a media brand:

“…Hilton will star in his own reality show. He is the subject of a four-page layout in December’s GQ, will co-host MTV’s New Year’s Eve special, will appear on the cover of the Advocate next month and was just named to a list of 25 powerful Latinos by the New York Post…

Especially telling was Mr. Carr’s observation that online news brands can be built nowadays as fast as one can say Lindsay Lohan:

“TMZ is yet another lesson — a depressing one for old media types — in the Web’s ability to create a brand at breakneck speed. In October, TMZ, a site that did not exist one year earlier, was the No. 1 entertainment news site, with far more traffic than E! Online, and, a Time Warner site.”

Depressing for “old media types,” indeed. Just flip to the NY Times’s profile of the 21-year-old college student blogger behind’s TVNewser or, worse, contemplate the price YouTube fetched.