Magazine Watch

Los Angeles has posted the top stories from the December issue, including Steve Oney's feature on Defamer Mark Lisanti and the rise of online gossip.

The most influential and intimidating gossip in Hollywood lives and works in a two-bedroom unit of a nondescript apartment complex in Los Feliz. Most of the celebrities about whom he writes wouldn’t be caught dead in his neighborhood, nor would they recognize him if they ran into him. He’s a goateed 31-year-old named Mark Lisanti, who dresses in jeans and T-shirts (a favorite features a picture of Sean Penn snapped after a nightclub scrap and the legend spicoli forever)...

In his 18 months as editor and sole writer of, Lisanti has revolutionized Hollywood gossip. Wickedly funny (CBS president Les Moonves is a “generously betoothed future galactic despot”) and reflexively impious (“Katie Holmes’s Virgin Birth,” roared the site’s headline announcing the pregnancy of Tom Cruise’s fiancée), the Defamer has won a vast following....Not only are Hollywood potentates loath to speak ill of him, they’re loath to speak well of him, for fear of offending any of the actors, directors, or moguls he’s skewered and on whom their livelihoods depend.


The Defamer is both creating and embodies a fundamental shift in the culture’s view of celebrity. Over the years the assumption implicit in most entertainment reporting was that the stars and the executives behind them were deities. Even stories exposing their foibles and faux pas, far from tarnishing them, actually reinforced their stature as objects of fascination: Only higher forms of being could command such attention. The Defamer will have none of it. Neither traditional journalism nor old-fashioned social criticism, the site is a new form of hybrid that uses satire and technology to strip the veneer off Industry grandees. In the Defamer, Hollywood, which is feudal and hierarchic, has at last met the Internet, which is radical and anarchic. If the site did no more than challenge the established order, that would be enough, but what elevates it is that it’s also artfully written.

Also posted are the cover story on where young Hollywood shops and R.J. Smith's media column on the New Times-Village Voice merger:

Unfortunately for readers of the L.A. Weekly and its staffers, New Times never much cared for the local product. When it came through Los Angeles in 1996, New Times bought the L.A. Reader and L.A. Village View, purged both staffs, and launched New Times L.A. The paper blasted the Weekly as often as it remembered to—calling its staff dunderheads, beret wearers, throwbacks, and ass kissers. That’s the nice stuff. New Times L.A. never got a foothold, though, and folded. Now those folks are set to call the shots, and the 27-year-old Weekly is about to take a hairpin turn....

What’s lost in all the commotion about the merger is that today’s alternative press is the Web. Back when, alt weeklies were linked to youth; their politics, music, comics, even the advertisements—everything about them—implied a nascent culture on the rise. Today there’s plenty of youth but nobody talking about a youth culture—and one thing that defines youth is a shared distaste for holding things that have to be read.

C, "California's first lifestyle magazine," greets December with Cindy Crawford posed on the cover and a story inside about her being a Malibu mom.

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