Two months ago, I sat in a crowded banquet hall in Austin, Texas, as TMZ founder, managing editor, and TMZ on TV host Harvey Levin gave an impassioned, highly charismatic, completely unapologetic keynote about the invasive empire that he has steadily built since 2005. In the talk, aside from his speech and a few hints of what the future held (a TMZ Bus Tour in NYC), the standout takeaway was the demographic taking the microphone to ask Harvey very specific questions about TMZ. More often than not they were middle-aged women, probably in their late forties or early fifties. And with each question, there was a definite mix of delight in how little they knew (comparatively speaking) about the Internet, and genuine curiosity about what was happening within the pop culture landscape. It was a nice reminder that not everyone spends their entire day refreshing Twitter. Or having Twitter. Or knowing what Twitter is.
Two months later, however, TMZ made its way back into my life. Yesterday morning, I was confronted with one detail that I'd glossed over from Levin's March discussion.
20. Chris Brown: For "beating his girlfriend Rihanna." (Duh.) "Even though Rihanna has taken him back, many music industry insiders don't trust him, perhaps because he claims to be the real victim."
19. Jesse James: "People began to turn on the reality star with reports of his cheating on Sandra Bullock, but his tone-deaf statements made matters worse."
18. Taylor Swift: "The talented singer-songwriter has not only dated what seems like every guy in Hollywood, but she's made millions bashing them in her songs!" Whatever, they're great songs and those dudes were fuckos! "She also can't seem to take a joke. After Tina Fey made a lighthearted quip about her boy-crazy rep, Taylor responded by saying 'There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.'" OMG, she was like just quoting Katie Couric! Boo, you whore.
Who Is Khloe Kardashian's Baby Daddy? "Photos of the reality TV star hopping into the tattooed arms of rapper The Game in L.A.'s Runyon Canyon ignited a firestorm of talk that she was cheating on her husband Lamar Odom — a controversy that shows no signs of abating." OK! then uses every photo they can find of Khloe with her hand on or near her stomach (there are a lot, from all different times) to claim she is pregnant. While pregnancy was her dream, "that doesn't mean it's all roses and lollipops." (Is that a phrase?) The Game says he and Khloe were just promoting his 60 Days of Fitness program. According to him, "We have never and will never be sleeping together. Lamar is my homie and her husband and I wish people wouldn't spread such false rumors." Do you though, Game? Because this is the most publicity you've had in years.
After a three-year live-show hiatus related to his chronic throat issues, John Mayer is headed back to the road. It'll be a 40-city, four-country tour, kicking off with warm-up shows at Jazz Fest in New Orleans at the end of April, and running through dates in Brazil, L.A. and, of course, Milwaukee. Mayer has been cleared to sing again after doctors resolved his granuloma, which is severe tissue inflammation on the vocal cords. As Billboard reports, Mayer first went to Dr. Steven Zeitels, the doc who saved Adele's pipes and got a subsequent shout-out at the Grammys (it was actually Mayer who recommended Zeitels to Adele). But Zeitels's surgery/throat-Botox regimen didn't solve Mayer's throat issues, which were complicated by "stress on [his] voice from constant touring and performing, and a longtime struggle with acid-reflux exacerbated by poor diet and drinking." Tragically, John Mayer's lifetime of carousing with the world's most beautiful women had caught up to him.
Katy Perry & John Mayer Break Up: Call me a naive sucker, but I really thought these two could go the distance. They made it almost a year, which is like a decade in John Mayer relationship time. As recently as March 2, she tweeted, "My boyfriend is taking me to a kitten shelter in his truck. I can't think of a more perfect Saturday." In the time since then, something must have gone down, because by March 18 she was tweeting "ATTENTION: Mercury is OUT of retrograde today. Thank GOD." The split has now been announced in People, which means it was probably confirmed to them by either Mayer's or Perry's rep. So what went wrong? Let's do a postmortem.
Cindy Crawford & Rande Gerber: "At a concert at the Malibu Inn in early February, the 47-year-old supermodel was more of a hot mess! While downing drink after drink, she went on a wild dancing and flirting spree with victims including Brody Jenner and Johnny Zambetti, the lead guitarist of the headlining band Terraplane Sun - all while Rande Gerber, her husband of 14 years, looked on unfazed." Cindy supposedly told Zambetti "My marriage is over!" and he says that "she certainly wasn't acting like a married woman. She was acting like a single, 21-year-old party girl." Cindy's rep claims the couple is just fine, and that they were there to see Shwayze. “Cindy was not flirting with any men or drinking. Cindy and Rande are very happily married." There have been rumors of turmoil in the Crawford-Gerber union before, including the gossip that they participate in partner swapping with other celebrity couples like George Clooney and Stacy Keibler. Witnesses say Cindy was wasted and kept talking about "hot band guys" while "chasing Brody all around the bar. After a while, he and his two guy friends started to mess with her, buying her shots and making her take them. She was loving the attention!" Also I mean, c'mon Brody, it's fucking Cindy Crawford. Rande "wasn't paying Cindy any attention at all. He was completely checked out." Friends say "Rande's indifference is precisely the reason Cindy's behaving like a teenager in the first place — it's her way of getting back at him for cheating on her throughout their marriage." Star had an exclusive in 2004 when Rande hooked up with a New Orleans waitress. "Cindy's put up with a lot over the years." SOUNDS LIKE IT. "She always flirts with guys, and it's really sad because I think she does it out of jealousy over Rande flirting with other women."
Sean the Bachelor Is a Virgin: Despite one date where he "cuddled and made snow angels" and another involving "a catamaran ride to a private island," this season's The Bachelor contestant, Sean Lowe, is abstinent. As in "chaste." As in, he still has his V-card? "Sean doesn't want to have sex until he's married." Turns out he's a born-again virgin. "Though Lowe did have sex in college, he embraced religion in his twenties and no longer believes in premarital relations." Oh. Producers claim they didn't exactly know, but, yeah, right. "By the time Lowe whittled down the women to his final three, these potential wives were eager to pass first base." Normally, the fantasy suite dates are known for being sex marathons, "but instead of seducing them, Lowe revealed his idea of a fantasy: waiting until marriage." Oh. "The women didn't see it coming. They were disappointed." Hopefully, producers provided them with vibrators or something. "He had some pretty intense makeout sessions." A virgin who only ever wants to make out? Sounds like Taylor Swift has finally found her future husband.
Angelina Jolie is "Surprise! Boring in bed." Whaaaaaa? This alleged information comes from shade thrown by her ex, Billy Bob Thornton, who has said, "sometimes, with the model, the actress, the 'sexiest person in the world,' it may be literally like fucking the couch." FUCK YO COUCH, BILLY BOB!
Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton: Splitting up is not on the table for the country supercouple. Lambert says she's questioned whether her marriage to Shelton will last "a million" times. "Divorce is not an option," Lambert said. "I will fight to the death. I am a ninja." That seems like a weird thing to say about your relationship. In order to keep communication open, Lambert and Shelton "are allowed to snoop through each other's phones." Has she never heard of a burner? They never spend longer than two weeks away from each other. "We text a lot. Even if it's just sending a picture of the onion rings we're eating!" OK, that seems less weird. They bond at home, "hang out on the porch, drink beer and cook burgers." Lambert says "I think it's important as a married couple to be friends." This all feels strangely defensive. I'm rooting for Lambert (how could I not be?), so I hope things work out.
Justin Bieber Cheated on Selena Gomez a Lot: "HIGH ON DRUGS, TEEN STAR JUSTIN BIEBER CHEATED ON SELENA GOMEZ WITH A SEXY STRANGER." Just before the holidays, Bieb had a "drug-fueled hookup with another girl." The drug was mostly weed, and the girl was voluptuous 22-year-old L.A. nursing student Mimi Jenson. They were introduced by Lil' Twist, and went to a weed store in Hollywood, a McDonald's, and then back to the hotel. There they "did a lot more than eat." I bet they got a hundred-piece McNuggets. They also "smoked pot and used a baby bottle to measure out the ingredients for sizzurp, the street cocktail made famous by Three 6 Mafia and Ke$ha." Mull that sentence, please.
From Kirstie Alley oversharing about conspiring with George Wendt to snap a picture of Ted Danson's dick during the Cheers years to the revelation that Mel Gibson is dating Jennifer Aniston's body double, this year we learned more than we could have possibly ever wanted to about celebrities.
Demi Moore Out Of Control in Miami: "Dancing wildly and downing Red Bull after Red Bull at 1:30 A.M., Demi Moore — wearing a thigh-baring romper and black glasses — made quite a spectacle of herself in Miami Beach." There for Art Basel, the "50-year-old mom of three grinded against fellow reveler Stacy Keibler, 33, as Lenny Kravitz, 48, looked on." How come nobody's calling nearly 50-year-old father Kravitz "out of control" for still going out and partying? Oh right, he's not a woman. Then again, Demi did just get out of rehab, so the age-shaming can be also be played off as genuine concern for her health. "Demi partying was really something else. Lenny was rolling his eyes." Moore's boy-toy Vito Schnabel, 26, "was keeping a safe distance from the self-proclaimed puma." He tried to ditch her, but "she won't let it go. He told her to leave him alone, but she went to Miami anyway." I would totally watch this if it were a movie, but the reality is pretty hard to take. "Demi is insecure about getting older." OH YOU THINK? "That's why she hangs out with so many young people." A friend defends her by saying, "She was having fun." She looks like she was having fun twerking like an awkward white lady. Before Schnabel, she hooked up with Hard Rock Hotel heir Harry Morton, who dated Lindsay Lohan. Moore's daughters were in Miami to party, but they have exiled their mom. "They're not talking. She and Scout haven't spoken in a long time." This is very sad. Actresses get punished for getting older but mocked for acting young. Demi Moore obviously has a lot of problems, but shaming her isn't gonna help.
Scarlett Johansson Is Depressed: "She was totally out of control in Moscow recently" at a champagne brand's promo event. "She was drinking nonstop and barely slept. It was obvious that she was trying to numb her feelings." She's sad about her breakup with ad exec Nate Naylor. "She's not used to going home alone — it's a shock to her system. The fact that Ryan Reynolds is happily married while she's single again has done a number on her. And the drinking is taking its toll — she's been crying because she feels so fat." She got a lucky horseshoe tattooed on her ribcage "because she's feeling a bit unlucky." A rebound with ex-boyfriend Jared Leto quickly went south. "She thought a fling with Jared would make her feel better, but since it was only a hookup, it only made things worse." Time for Lost in Translation 2? I know I'd pay good money to watch Scarlett be sad in Russia.
John Mayer & Katy Perry & Adam Levine: Katy Perry went to Adam Levine's annual Halloween party and the two were flirting nonstop. "Adam was touching and hugging Katy affectionately while they did shots together for a half hour, even though his girlfriend model Behati Prinsloo was at the party too. It was kind of uncomfortable." Perry is show-business buddies with Levine, who is also BFF with Katy's rumored beau, John Mayer. Mayer once dated Jessica Simpson, whom Levine was once said to have tooted and booted.
"Adam texted Jess that he 'needed space.'" WHAT? "Then he avoided her calls. She phoned him several times, but he didn't answer." While Katy and Adam's flirtation is probably innocent, there's no doubt that she knows a potential fling with Levine is her ace in the hole should John Mayer's wandering eye and life-ruining dick get the best of John and Katy's relationship.
Taylor Swift & Conor Kennedy Split: "Taylor Swift was in the mood to talk about — what else? — heartache." During a listening party for Red she explained one song saying, "Long-distance dating is hard, and is something I face constantly." And will probably deal with for the rest of her life, unless she quits touring. Swift and her 18-year-old boyfriend, Conor Kennedy, recently broke up. "The breakup was mutual because of the distance, schedules, and being at different places in their lives." Why do I not believe that any Taylor Swift breakup is ever really "mutual"? Although self-professed "hopeless romantic" Taylor tried to make it work with Conor, soon "reality set in." She is promoting her new album nonstop for the next year, and Kennedy is in high school. "There aren't many guys game for a serious relationship with a girl who's out of town the majority of the year." Swift should date a pro athlete next! Just playing. She should date a civilian who could go on tour with her. Are there any sweet guitar techs out there that don't mind having an album potentially written about them?