Two things are immediately worth noting about the forthcoming investigation into TMZ’s inner workings by The New Yorker. It’s longform journalism, worked on for over a year. And TMZ head honcho Harvey Levin has taken notice.
From a report at our sister publication by THR executive editor Matthew Belloni and reporter Chris Gardner:
Levin, 64, has been warning TMZ employees both past and present not to speak to writer Nicholas Schmidle, whose résumé might explain why Levin is so nervous. Schmidle’s previous subjects include the hunt for Osama bin Laden, a Russian arms trafficker and war crimes in Kosovo. In addition, The New Yorker has shown a willingness to publish unflattering stories set in the world of media and entertainment.
For instance, the Condé Nast-owned magazine’s lengthy profile of filmmaker Paul Haggis‘ separation from Scientology by writer Lawrence Wright led to Wright’s book Going Clear and the Alex Gibney-directed HBO documentary that premiered at Sundance and was recently nominated for an Emmy. Several TMZ insiders have spoken to Schmidle anyway, according to sources, as have others in the so-called Thirty Mile Zone around Hollywood from which TMZ took its name.
Levin has never shied away from admitting TMZ sometimes pays for exclusive video footage, noting the practice is employed by mainstream media organizations. However, if The New Yorker article, scheduled for
the Aug. 24 unspecified future issue, is able to document other ways the Marina del Rey-based Telepictures-Warner Bros. operation has long been rumored to reward its web of story sources, it could definitely be explosive.