Full Coverage of NAB 2017
When the media found out that TMZ’s Harvey Levin had met with President Donald Trump at the White House in March, it created yet another firestorm, much like those raised when Trump met with other prominent entertainment figures, including Kanye West and Steve Harvey.
But Levin has had a relationship with Trump for 12 years, and also featured Trump in the first episode of his new show, OBJECTified, which will air on Fox News in primetime this fall. Levin found the reaction to his visit a little silly.
"It is hilarious to me, hilarious and kind of sad, that I was in the waiting room of the West Wing for a half hour and probably saw 100 people, including reporters, and nothing happened until a week later and then people were furious that I got in there," Levin told a panel at NAB in Las Vegas on Monday.
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"What I find unbelievable is the bullying in traditional media. I think there are some traditional media outlets that are being ruined by this administration and ruined by their own needs. There are certain networks and newspapers that are very clear on who they are and what they feel and that’s fine. When you pretend like you’re objective but you’re not and you are angry and you are trying to kill and bully, I think that is killing them. And I don’t think they know it yet but I think some of the most trusted names in news are not trusted anymore.
"What I think is so preposterous is that Kanye West went to see Trump, he got trashed. Steve Harvey went to see Trump, he got trashed. I guess the solution is that nobody should see him. That is so stupid. I disagree with some of the stuff he does and believes and I’m not sure some of the stuff he does he believes. I went in there and I voiced an opinion on some things. And why would you not get in that game? If you disagree, you should just boycott? The guy has shown in the past three weeks that he's changed his mind on five things. So, if he's willing to change his mind, why would you sit on the sidelines and bully people who go in there? It's absurd. Bully people because he has a view you don’t like yet you could change the view by having people go in there and talk to him? It is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.”
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Levin joined Frank Cicha, senior VP of programming for Fox Television Stations at NAB in Las Vegas for a discussion on how TMZ, its distributor Warner Bros., and the Fox stations partnered to make the show a multi-platform syndicated success. (Full disclosure: The author of this piece moderated the panel.)
When OBJECTified airs on Fox News this fall, it will include “world leaders, entertainers, sports figures, singers,” said Levin. The show features Levin going to the homes of notable people and looking at objects to tell that person’s life story.
“This is fantastic that you can tell someone’s life story through the objects that they choose to keep,” said Levin. “And rather than sitting on the sofa, you go through their home with them … and you walk through and you find eight objects that represent a period of their life. That’s a jumping off point to what’s going on.”
“What I love about it is the programming relationship that we have with Harvey and Warner Bros.,” said Cicha. “At this point, Harvey is doing stuff for our cable networks as well and that is really encouraging.”
Levin and his team have launched several shows out of TMZ, including TMZ Live, which also airs on the Fox Television Stations as well as on stations owned by other groups, and TMZ Sports, which airs on Fox Sports 1. Beyond OBJECTified, Levin said he’s got three other pilots in the works.
“I think we are done with TMZ-branded shows. The theme of everything is that we don’t want to do traditional television. We want to figure out what people really want. The way I see it now is that we’re a studio.”
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Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.