Perez Hilton's fans seem OK with Mr. Nice(r) Guy
When gossip asp Perez Hilton went on "Ellen" seven weeks ago and promised to lose some of his bite, predictions flowed about how it would hurt his nasty brand. But ratings agencies suggest the newer, nicer perezhilton.com has held its own.
In the five weeks leading up to Hilton's announcement (he said he would back off the bullying and outing of gay celebrities), comScore measured his unique audience at 962,000, 1,048,000, 1,040,000, 954,000 and 920,000. In the five weeks that included the announcement, and since, the audiences have numbered 984,000, 892,000, 880,000, 1,087,000 and 930,000.
Hilton said he wants to be less insulting because he would like to be more respected by the gay community and by young people who make up his core audience. He said in an interview that he's willing to lose audience to maintain his new, higher standards.
My column goes after the raft of discussion about whether Hilton will really reform.
Gillian Sheldon, vice president for programming at the website Celebuzz, said she believes Hilton really has changed and that the "pendulum is now swinging" toward kinder and gentler for many celebrity sites.
Sheldon said that's the directive to writers at Celebuzz, one of more than 40 sites in the BuzzMedia empire. "We report the news if someone gets arrested or if there's some sort of scandal or allegations of cheating," said Sheldon, who previously helped found the celebrity site TMZ. "We want to have personality but not be mean for mean's sake."
Sheldon, who has known Hilton for years, said she thinks the same approach will work for him, regardless of his past nasty. "There is still a little bit of an edge. That is his personality," Sheldon said. "I don't think he will lose a lot of readers, because people feel close to him. They feel they know him."
Photo: Perez Hilton is the celebrity blogger, the self-designated Queen of All Media who also has a syndicated radio show. He told Ellen DeGeneres in mid-October that he planned to be nicer on perezhilton.com. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times.