Defamer as celebrity

Defamer's Mark LisantiDefamer's Mark Lisanti is "the newest and hottest foot soldier on the front lines of the celebrity takeover of modern culture," Rachel Abramowitz writes in Sunday's LAT. "He's the witty meta-counterpoint to the point — which is America's obsession with the clothes, hair, skin, romances, professional indiscretions, ludicrous vanity and personal triumphs of famous people, largely actors and musicians but now also including media figures, politicians, reality TV stars, anorexically thin, sexually exhibitionistic heiresses, vile but good-looking criminals, and the invariably winsome collateral damage of major news events."

His biggest claim to fame, however, might be his photo montage of Cruise's "Oprah" interview — done on his cellphone with his girlfriend, Kristen Stancik, manning the TiVo. Lisanti turned Cruise into mesmerizing Kabuki theater, perfectly capturing his monomaniacal intensity. When his effort was reprinted (with credit) in the New York Times, it helped the Cruise freakout transform from blogosphere chitchat into a national obsession.

For his devotees, however, Lisanti's column is less about actual gossip than attitude. He's more Jon Stewart than Page Six — a wisecracking Virgil leading readers through various circles of celebrity hell, linking to stories all over the Web, and to weird ephemera often sent in by readers...

For a blogger, Lisanti tries to exact higher standards for information than his burgeoning rivals such as Thesuperficial.com and Jossip.com, which have published items about a prominent young actress' alleged cocaine habit, or the unexpurgated text of e-mails sent in by readers purporting to offer the scoop about the supposed fling between Cruise and Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas. Even with routine disclaimers attached, the urban legend got so much traction on the Net that Thomas actually issued a denial.

Defamer averages about 220,000 page views a day, the story says. In June, Lisanti racked up 5.2 million page views. Yowza.


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