“We were always interested in the show,” Abernethy told Broadcasting & Cable about launching the show in 2007. “We knew Harvey knew television, and it was the kind of thing we needed. It was intentionally structured to work for a Fox station— it was young and hip-looking.”
WWOR, FOX’s owned MyNewtorkTV affiliate in New Jersey, has begun airing a show called “Chasing New Jersey” that emulates the tone and pace of TMZ in place of its newscast.
“TMZ is incredibly efficient,” said Abernethy. “We are trying to steal pieces of this model. If you look at TMZ, you see how many people are actually researching stories, covering stories, touching stories—it’s virtually everybody. The more people you have covering stories and bringing stuff in, the better product you are going to have.”
According to B&C, TMZ is the top-rated show among men and women 18 to 34, 18 to 49 and 25 to 54.
WWOR has taken some heat for removing its only standard news show and replacing it with the TMZ like “Chasing New Jersey.” In July, New Jersey Congressman and U.S Senate hopeful Frank Pallone (D-NJ) called for the FCC to deny WWOR’s license renewal based on the move. He was later joined by current Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and the Bergen Record.
WWOR general manager Dianne Doctor has gone on record defending the switch saying, “Maybe I missed it, but despite these huge newspaper cutbacks [in New Jersey], not one member of the state’s Congressional delegation expressed any concern. Maybe they should take a page from the students and faculty at Montclair State, who have created a facility to rescue journalism and pave a real path for the future. Maybe after watching ‘Chasing New Jersey,’ you’ll see a little glimpse of that future, and wonder why anyone would criticize us for trying something new.”
FOX originally tested “TMZ Live” on its Los Angeles owned station KTTV before expanding it to air on KSAZ in Phoenix and eventually its stations in Boston (WFXT), Chicago (WFLD), Dallas (KDFW), Detroit(WJBK) and Minneapolis (KMSP).
“TMZ Live” will air on all 18 FOX owned stations beginning in September and should be cleared across the country by next Fall.