How TMZ Really Scooped Mainstream Press on Michael Jackson’s Death

Thursday night I was at my son’s first swim meet when I heard news about Michael Jackson being rushed to the hospital. While others searched Google news to no avail, I jumped on Twitter and found a number of third-hand reports that Jackson was dead. The only source listed was AOL-owned gossip website, TMZ. Here’s one report of how TMZ scooped CNN and, according to some reports, the coroner. 

So now I’m thinking of a parody video that replicates the EMR rushing Jackson to the hospital. Grainy footage of the ambulance and paramedics screaming away paparazzi. Naturally we don’t see Jackson’s face because that’s logistically difficult, and would certainly be a HIPAA violation. One EMR gets a cell call from TMZ editor Harvey Levin, who promises $10,000 for first-hand status updates but $25,000 for news of Michael Jackson’s death. The other paramedic shrugs, and pinches the IV line, which flatlines the King of Pop. “Should we say a prayer or something?” asks the ethics-devoid EMR. 

There are at least 3 things that will probably stop me from actually shooting this bit. First, it’s already late as viral satires go. Second, I’ll need to convince a friend to let me use an actual ambulance, and that has some risks if the video was to travel. Thirdly, it’s somewhat dark and tasteless… even if the satire is not at the expense of Jackson but on the ethical implications of paying sources. Levin reports that he doesn’t pay nurses or police, but he did provide quotes that suggest a paramedic might have been the source.

Can someone charged with saving a life be “under the table” incentivized to provide details of a celebrity death? That’s pretty frightening, and if I was a hospital I’d do some serious digging.

Here’s some actual footage obtained by of the ambulance exterior (as precious time is wasted trying to backup the ambulance). But what happened inside? The world may never know…

23 Replies to “How TMZ Really Scooped Mainstream Press on Michael Jackson’s Death”

  1. But aside from my comment above – I love your idea for a parody, but wait three months and make it be about TMZ and use a completely fictional celeb. Because that’s really the topic of your concept, not MJ himself.

    Besides, Mark Day caught a lot of flack for his reaction to MJ’s death. His “apology” video was hilarious. But right at this moment, you want to be gaining subbies, not losing them.

    xox DahliaK

  2. I totally think you should make the video! You can always go to Confession later for being a morally broken and twisted bastard that sold his soul for a couple views. But what do I know… I have an extremely poorly formed conscience, so I say go for it!

  3. I think this one looks better on paper, least for your demographic and you don’t want irate Jackson fans throwing eggs at your house in the middle of the night, nor the Nation of Islam knocking on your door.

    This thing has plenty of life in it with everyone lawyering up, patience Kevin patience. This will probably be the biggest thing since Lady Di with all kinds of tentacles, only this time there’s You Tube.

    Just FTR – I feel bad for the guy, what a tragic figure, but he’s left plenty of lessons to be learned or remembered and the one that stands out the most, Fame Isn’t Everything.

    Okay now everyone let’s sing together…
    We are the world…

  4. almost forgot – considering everything, these guys seemed to pull it off pretty well [click] I think Chuck’s ambiguity makes it work

  5. I agree, jischinger, I thought ClipCritics did a good job, and it was almost the first MJ death video I saw (trumped I believe by Mark Day’s).

  6. WTF? Nalts, you’re now using that model’s face as your CHANNEL ICON? She’s cute, but not as cute as you.

  7. This whole circus is nothing compared to the fiasco that is building in the courts. MJ died but the game has just begun. So sad.

  8. Just took the time to read your post. WOW, That’s cold. I would wait at least 5 minutes before filming that Kevin…. Well maybe 10.

  9. @7 Mark’s triathlon was great!

    but now I feel it’s hard to top this

    If true, this has to be the cherry on the weirdest thing Michael Jackson ever requested.

    Normally, I would chuckle after reading/watching something like this perhaps, check the logo on the front of the paper or web site to see if it said, “The Onion,” but this being Jacko, King of Pop…

    Don’t, keep on, if you’ve had enough.

    One more thing – I’d like to note the market difference on the attitude and treatment between the deaths of Jacko and Bill Mays.

    Regarding Jokes, Upon His Death – there sems to be a lot of righteous indignation on behalf of the Jackson fans and semi-fan camps; “Too soon!” they cry. Yet, many of the same folks are racing as fast as humanly possible to their computers, beating their heads hard to come up with the best way to mock Bill Mays, “Got to be first on the front page!”

    On the one hand we have a guy who worked hard for 30 years, took care of his family and provided products that were use.., well sort of useful.

    On the other hand we have Wacko Jacko who sort of wrote some lofty songs, contractually required people to call him the “King of Pop,” taught a generation of 12 year olds and under how to thrust their pelvic regions in a very provocative manner, and spent money like Emelda Marcos in a shoe shop on trinkets and furniture crafted by the tiny little hands of child labor.

    We are the world, we are the children….

    Jackson was a man who had it all and more. Yes, it’s true he had a trough time as a kid, who hasn’t? But, the one thing he did have was plenty of money to get help.

    Hindsight being 20/20 and addiction is never pretty, still, even with the debt he incurred he always had the option and support to get help, the best help money could buy.

    Now his family is going to make sure, with great assistance from the media, that his obsessively self-mutilated scared and broken body is adulated at the end of a red carpet, on top a Las Vegas style pyramid, with a Hollywood CGI background for the world to see so that we remember this self-proclaimed “King of Pop” as an icon for the children and all of humanity.

    Anyways, I just wanted to rant on about this in a safe place that offered more then160 characters to point out what weird little monkeys we are as a species.

    Billie Jean’s, not my lover, she’s just a girl, who claims that I am the one …

  10. Since they were both in the public eye, MJ and Billy Mays had become targets of somewhat justified and crude forms of humor. Why should they be any different in death?

    I think the only question, really, is one of timing. How long should we wait before it is acceptable to tell a MJ plastic surgery joke or make a Billy Mays shouting parody?

    True these were real people, well Billy was real. Michael was about 70/30 Plastic and other man made materials. There are people to whom they really did exist. And they will be remembered good or bad,

    They should do a “Life after People” episode devoted to MJ.

  11. Wait. I’m supposed to type the words Michael Jackson’s death to get full credit for my comments. Or Micheal Jacksons death. He’s dead. Mikeal Jacksen. Deathly dead. King of Pop. Dead. Died he did. Michael Jacksin. He died.

  12. Y’all just wait until a bunch of celebrities younger than YOU start dropping like flies. You’ll see how it feels. It feels like Death is parked across the street, waiting for you to come out.

  13. who you talking at, Marquis? Jacko was younger than me, this Billy Mays guy too (a celebrity so famous, I had to ask who he was) …

    When the “Sham-WOW” pitchman dies, THEN I’m really gonna be counting my final hours.

  14. P.S. What’s up with all this death in Hollywood this week, anyway?. This is one of the few times in my life that I’m glad not to be rich and famous.

  15. @20: My sentiments precisely. Farrah has gotten lost in the shadow of MJ’s death. Never a big fan of either, but she deserves props as well.

  16. Hey, Nalts. Start a contest, have people guess who gets more death publicity – Michael Jackson or Anna Nicole Smith. Both had minor children, spending problems, potentially large estates, and too much publicity. I got sooooooooooo sick of hearing about Anna Nicole, and this looks to be at least as bad.

    At least Michael Jackson had talent.

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