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Hollywood Seen Through Paparazzi-Colored Glasses

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Hollywood Seen Through Paparazzi-Colored Glasses

Pop Culture

Hollywood Seen Through Paparazzi-Colored Glasses

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LYNN NEARY, Host:

Almost as long as there's been Hollywood, there's been the Hollywood tour.

(SOUNDBITE OF A NEWS REEL)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And here's the home of Gary Cooper here in Brentwood. On your left, Gary can be seen in the doors. They come from the church from where he was married...

NEARY: NPR's Ben Bergman was not too proud to ride along.

BEN BERGMAN: Everyday, as many as seven times a day, a seat on the TMZ Tour can be had for just $49 and a few hours of your life.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

KEITH JORDAN: (Singing) It's so good of you to join us on this magic ride we like to call TMZ Tour.

BERGMAN: In addition to this blaring soundtrack, the tour includes a guide, Keith Jordan, who could easily be mistaken for a drive-time radio host. He's actually the most clichéd of all Hollywood cliches, the struggling actor.

JORDAN: We're going to go out where the celebrities actually go to on a day-to-day basis, okay. Where they eat, where they shop, where they party, where they play.

BERGMAN: As we get underway, Jordan tells the half-empty bus to be on the lookout. We'll be traveling through prime celebrity habitat.

JORDAN: Okay. So if we see anybody while we're on this tour, guys, I want you to shout out to me. Say, Keith, oh my God, there's a famous person out there. I'm going to jump out of the bus with this camera and I'm going to get an interview with that celebrity. I hit a button on here, that footage uploads directly to TMZ.com immediately.

BERGMAN: The first stop on the tour is an iconic Hollywood hotel.

JORDAN: First up, the Roosevelt Hotel, home to Teddy's Nightclub, one of Lindsay Lohan's favorite hangouts, probably because her ex-girlfriend, Samantha Ronson, DJs here. Now, for those of you under-busy, the Roosevelt is where "The Hills" had their finale party.

BERGMAN: The Roosevelt is also where the first Academy Awards were held in 1929, but no time to mention that here. We're off to the El Pollo Loco fast food restaurant where Brad Pitt used to work, then the comedy club where Michael Richards went on a racist rant, which of course, TMZ posted for all the world to see.

HARVEY LEVIN: I drive all over LA and every time I drive around, I look and I see all these places that TMZ made famous.

BERGMAN: Harvey Levin is the founder of TMZ, which has made him a minor celebrity. He says he's been obsessed with starting a tour for years.

LEVIN: It just seemed to me these old line, stodgy Hollywood tours, you know, that let people know what happened in the 1920s in Hollywood, you know, we could do a tour about what's going on now and who the people care about now.

BERGMAN: Still, Levin argues virtually everyone he puts on TMZ benefits from being there.

LEVIN: This is a city that it's all about selling tickets. It's all about, keep me relevant, make my song relevant, make sure that people watch my show.

JORDAN: On your right, the place where your favorite celebrity spawn are born, Cedars Sinai Hospital.

BERGMAN: We're coming to the end of our two-hour voyage and despite the tour guide's best efforts to keep everyone upbeat, it's felt like a fishing trip where you don't catch any fish. Not a single celebrity sighted, not even a D-lister. But then, a tug on the line.

JORDAN: Wait, wait, wait. Say, hi, Ryan Phillippe. Don't drive away.

BERGMAN: Our driver stops in the middle of the road, attempting to box in the star of "Cruel Intentions" and "The Lincoln Lawyer."

JORDAN: No way out.

BERGMAN: Somehow, the actor finds an opening and speeds away.

(SOUNDBITE OF HORNS HONKING)

JORDAN: Say hi to TMZ.

BERGMAN: Still, Alicia Maretto(ph), visiting from Australia, was hoping for more.

ALECIA MARETTO: I wanted to see a lot more celebrities, but you can't really force them to come out.

BERGMAN: Ben Bergman, NPR News, Los Angeles.

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