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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Harvey Levin's Unfortunate Incident in Local Television News 

According to what I heard on the Kevin and Bean show on KROQ, Harvey Levin is now working for tmz.com.

This causes me to discount the wisdom of anything that tmz.com ever publishes.

Allow me to explain. First, let me go back over twenty years and reveal my then-current list of completely worthless people: Geraldo Rivera and Margaret Trudeau. Trudeau earned her spot by disco-dancing the night away on the evening that her ex-husband got voted out of office.

May 27 [1977]: Pierre and Maragaret Trudeau announce they are separating....

March 26 [1979]: Newspapers are serializing Margaret Trudeau's autobiography, Beyond Reason. The book, which reveals intimate details of the Trudeau marriage, is said to enrage the Prime Minister. He calls a May election in order, it is reported later, to prove that his estranged wife's confessions do not bother him....

May 22: Mr. Trudeau's Government is defeated by the Conservatives under Joe Clark. On election night, Mrs. Trudeau is photographed dancing in a flashy New York discotheque. “It's still a beautiful world,” Mr. Trudeau tells weeping Liberal supporters as he concedes defeat.

Geraldo earned his spot by being Geraldo.

Over the years, Geraldo has partially redeemed himself (partially). But Harvey Levin took his place on the list.

Before Levin rose to huge prominence in the remake of The People's Court, he was a local TV news reporter in Los Angeles. Local TV news in Los Angeles is like local TV news anywhere - a bunch of noise and everything else to get people to tune in and watch the commercials. It especially gets bad during sweeps months, in which the number of runaway prostitutes covered in special reports increases exponentially.

But the favorite thing for local TV news to do out here is "STORM WATCH." If there's a chance of sprinkles in the San Fernando Valley, all of the news stations will go into "STORM WATCH" mode, and send reporters out to announce that it is not raining yet, but it will be soon. However, the news producers get really excited when the on-the-scene announcers can actually announce that it is raining, and can show puddles of water as evidence. Then "STORM WATCH" becomes deliriously...unexciting.

I'm sure that most of you are laughing at us southern Californians about this whole deal, and how silly we get about it. Many of you are digging out of snow all winter, or dealing with hurricane-force winds, and we get all worked up about a little rain.

Actually, in some circumstances, it is a big deal. Southern California is pretty much a desert, and the desert surface is unable to handle large amounts of rain. Therefore, when we get a significant storm, we get huge runoff problems, which not only results in Malibu and Laguna homes sliding into the ocean, but also causes our few streams to become dangerous torrents. If someone is unlucky or stupid enough to get caught in the flow of a stream, they could become seriously injured, or even die. (In fact, in areas of inadequate drainage, you can even drown in the roads, particularly the north-south roads which receive runoff from the mountains north of the Inland Empire and the San Gabriel Valley.)

Enter Harvey Levin.

As I mentioned, Harvey Levin was in local TV news at the time - this was probably about 15 years ago - and he had been sent out to perform "STORM WATCH" coverage. So there he is, out on location, and he was able to show the rapt TV viewers that the ground was actually wet, the rain was falling, and the stream had significant water runoff.

Here's where the competitiveness of local TV news comes into play. It's not enough to say that the riverbed is filled with rushing water; you have to show it.

So that's why Harvey Levin ended up standing in the riverbed, with water running all around him.

With everybody watching.

And with some people probably thinking, "Hey, that looks like a cool thing to do." And this happens all too often in southern California - somebody sees the rushing water, decides to climb in, then realizes that the current is going faster than expected. By this time, it's too late to do anything.

And Harvey Levin is modeling this behavior, right in front of the Channel 2 viewing audience.

After he stood in the stream for a few minutes, the anchors conveyed a message to Mr. Levin. Basically, the fire department had contacted the anchors and told them to tell Harvey to get out of the stream, pronto.

To his credit, he did. But that act earned him a prominent place in my list of boneheads, and he's going to have to do something dramatic to get off of that list.

Incidentally, imdb.com includes another Levin anecdote:

While covering the O.J. Simpson case for KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, Levin reported that prosecutor Marcia Clark had entered Simpson's residence before a search warrant had been executed. When Levin was proven wrong, he attempted to blame his mistake on a techinician who "mis-timed" the video's clock during the editing process.

And here's something from Tabloid Baby:

Harvey Levin, the former local news legal analyst and street reporter turned flamboyant infotainment show reporter and legal analyst, has bitten the hand that feeds him in his new role running the “interactive” Hollywood website TMZ.com....

But Harvey might regret his latest stunt, trying to milk publicity out of a confrontation with a Hollywood good guy— an adult who stumbled into the silliness....

A few nights ago, one of TMZ’s kids with a camera managed to bait Harrelson as he stepped out of a Hollywood nightspot. The actor asked the kid to get the camera out of his face. The kid mouthed off, and while a second TMZ stalkerazzi recorded a wide shot of the scene, Woody allegedly broke the kid’s camera.

That’s showbiz (and that’s probably why the second cameraman was stationed to record the confrontation). From Sinatra to Sean Penn to Tommy Lee, the subject occasionally bites back.

Harvey the lawyer doesn't get it. He sent the kid to the Hollywood Police Station to file a police report. Then he had the kid go to the Cedars-Sinai emergency room and took nice photos taken of the bruises....

What interest would Harvey Levin have in a 44-year-old man? His site dines on celebutards: kiddie stars like Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton.

The closest connection the site could come up with was Woody’s appearance in the recent movie “A Prairie Home Companion” (which features Lohan).

And that’s the problem for Harvey.

See, TMZ may appear to be a street-level website that allows the people to play celebutainment reporter.

But dig into the site and see it spelled out that “this site is controlled and operated by TMZ.com., a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, 1840 Victory Blvd., Glendale, CA 91201… Please forward any questions regarding other legal matters to legal@wb.com.”

Woody Harrelson’s new movie is distributed by Picturehouse, a specialty film company formed by New Line Cinema and HBO.

Both are divisions of Time Warner.

So a Time Warner company is attacking a Time Warner star, and through the ensuing bad publicity, possibly affecting the bottom line of a Time Warner movie....

TMZ is an offshoot of Extra--you know, one of those shows that vowed not to buy stalkerazzi footage.

The more I learn about him, the better Margaret Trudeau sounds.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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