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Celebuzz lets you zoom in on famous faces, sometimes too close

February 18, 2009 |  9:21 am
An up-close view of Beyonce's eye and earring. Credit: Bauer Griffin

Looking at pictures of celebrities strolling down the red carpet is all well and good. But wouldn't it be so much better if you could see them up close? Fashionistas, it's your lucky day. In advance of the Oscars, Los Angeles celebrity site Celebuzz is launching a super-freaky zoom feature that allows you to click on a celebrity photo for a mega-zoom.

We're talking really, really close. Pores-and-pupils close. Like when you take a picture of a friend with your digital camera and then zoom in as close as you can until her eye looks like the Eye of Sauron in "Lord of the Rings."

It might be the ultimate sign of just how in-your-face we are with celebrities these days that you can look online to literally see every line on Renee Zellweger's face. But Celebuzz says it's just giving the people what they want. Plus, without zoom, how would you be able to see the glitter paint on Beyonce's shiny cheeks?

"There is a genuine appetite to see the details," said Karina Kogan, general manager of Celebuzz, which is owned by Buzznet, also a Los Angeles company.

There are more than 1,200 celebrity news sites in the U.S. according to Hitwise, and more than 84% of Web users visit an entertainment site each month, according to ComScore. New celebrity/gossip sites seem to be springing up like tween starlets every day.

But will seeing all the gory details turn us off to celebrities when we realize ...

... that they, too, have wrinkles and arm hair? (Well, some of them do at least.) Sibyl Goldman, general manager of Yahoo's Entertainment Group, which runs the site omg!, says people are more interested in seeing celebrities looking beautiful than they are of seeing goofs and hung-over stars.

"We're finding more and more that people are interested in the pretty stuff, like glamour shots and people looking really good," she said. She said omg! has been the top gossip site for the last 10 months because it's focused on that type of coverage. "It's about entertainment and escapism," she said. (We imagine that being able to point Yahoo's half-billion users toward the site doesn't hurt either.)

You could say, or course, that Celebuzz is one-upping all the other celebrity sites by offering the zoom feature. US Weekly may be able to show you what shoes a celebrity wears to an awards show, but only Celebuzz can show you the veins in her ankles. Cool! And gross. But it does make you wonder what's next: X-ray pictures of celebrities to see their skull shape? A camera on a tick that can burrow into their veins?

Says Kogan: "You couldn't get that close if you were there." Unless you had an X-ray machine, of course.

-- Alana Semuels