A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the content of this celebrity-driven "news" magazine series is probably nothing your kids haven't already seen on the newsstands at the local grocery store. But that doesn't mean they should watch with reckless abandon. This is a walking, talking tabloid that thrives on the public missteps of actors, singers, and other famous people ... and often confuses stupidity with actual news. It won't cause permanent damage to young minds, but it certainly won't encourage them to think, either.
What's the story?
By moving their smorgasbord of celebrity gossip from the Internet to television with a new namesake "news" show, the editors of TMZ.com are testing the boundaries of America's obsession with Hollywood culture. And in case you were wondering, it's a complete waste of time that should be avoided at all costs. Need proof? Here's a sampling of the top stories that ran during a random week in September:
• Security-camera footage capturing a virtually unknown actor (you know, that guy who played ill-fated rapist Zed in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction?) stealing a license plate from a parking garage. (Gasp!)
• An exclusive look at the hoity-toity lunch menu at Maddox Jolie-Pitt's new preschool, a spread that includes roasted codfish with tomatoes and basil caulis. (Shocking!)
Is it any good?
Despite the fact that TMZ TV is on for less than an hour, it still seems like its producers are grasping at straws when it comes to finding news. In fact, the only interesting aspect of the show is the opening segment, which captures TMZ managing editor Harvey Levin's story meeting with his staff of eager young news gatherers/celebrity stalkers, during which they plan the content for the episode you're about to watch. It's both fascinating and frightening to see the tabloid machine in motion, and you can't help but wonder whether it will ever stop.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why celebrities' everyday actions are so often deemed newsworthy in the media. Should they be? Do the majority of people truly care about the wild behavior of stars like Britney Spears, Linsday Lohan, and Paris Hilton ... or do they care because that's what the media is feeding them? Parents can also talk to their kids about how the nature of celebrity news has changed since they were younger. Have we become so obsessed with spying on famous people that we've forgotten to turn the lens on ourselves? Why does that matter?