Well, here it is. 14 years ago today, we pushed a button and TMZ.com went live and has been on a wild ride ever since.
We have broken thousands of stories over the years, many of which we can proudly say have changed the political and social climate. Our Ray Rice story had profound implications on the way the NFL and others deal with domestic violence. Our Donald Sterling story changed basketball for the better.
Some of the stories we’ve posted have been jaw-dropping. Those of us who worked at TMZ back in June 2009 were thunderstruck when we realized Michael Jackson was dead, and our investigation into doctors who enabled the singer was super disturbing.
Check out just a few of the stories we’ve broken that have made national and in many cases world news.
Sometimes you just know. When we got the Beyonce/Jay-Z elevator video back in May 2014, we knew it would generate crazy interest. What caused Solange to attack Jay, and how do you deconstruct Bey’s reaction? Bey and Jay eventually righted the ship, and now all’s well.
Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice got in trouble for attacking his girlfriend, but the public had no idea how serious it was until we got video of Ray viciously knocking out his fiancee in an elevator. The story hit like an atomic bomb. Prosecutors gave Rice a slap on the wrist, and the NFL gave him a measly 2-game suspension, which it later increased after a torrent of public criticism. The story triggered big changes in the way the NFL and other sports deal with domestic violence.
Michael Jackson long had trouble with drugs but kept a lot of it hidden from public view. On June 25, 2009, we got a tip he went into cardiac arrest and made about a hundred calls and eventually determined he was dead. After we broke the death story, the L.A. Times posted a story that Jackson was in a coma. The rest of the media had to then choose … who to believe.
Whitney Houston was another entertainer who was long dogged by substance abuse. We were not prepared, however, for what happened in February 2012, during Grammy weekend. We broke the story that Whitney died in her bathtub. The coroner determined her death was caused by drowning, brought about by heart disease and cocaine use.
Mel Gibson went on an anti-Semitic rampage on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu back in July 2006 as he was pulled over and arrested for drunk driving. The arresting L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy wrote a long report … 4 pages which detailed the anti-Semitic comments. The Sheriff’s Dept. removed the 4 pages from the report and repeatedly lied to us — even threatened us — saying Gibson never uttered such words and there was no report written describing such an incident.
When we got the report the Sheriff backtracked, but then made it his life’s mission to go after the arresting deputy. The Sheriff believed the deputy leaked the 4 pages to us. He was more concerned about the embarrassment to the department than the fact that he and other officials lied.
L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling tore into Magic Johnson and other black athletes during various recorded conversations with confidante V. Stiviano. We got the recordings, posted them and it rocked the sports world. President Obama was first to comment, and he was followed by a slew of politicians, entertainers and sports stars, including Magic. Sterling was stripped of his ownership role, and the NBA forever changed.
Michael Richards, who played Kramer on “Seinfeld” went crazy at the Laugh Factory on the Sunset Strip back in 2006, repeatedly hurling the n-word at a patron who was mocking him. It was one of the biggest stories we posted in the first few years of TMZ.
Prince projected a squeaky clean, drug-free image for years, which is why the information we got in the weeks preceding his death was so alarming. Six days before he died of an overdose, he was at death’s door aboard a private jet … unconscious from an OD. A shot of Narcan revived him, but it was only a matter of time before he died from a combination of drugs, laced with fentanyl.
Conor McGregor proved he was Teflon after lying in wait for a UFC tour bus in April 2018, and then hurling a dolly through the bus window, injuring 2 fighters … one seriously. We posted the video and everyone assumed Conor would end up in an orange jumpsuit. He got no jail time, no community service, and the result got repeated in Miami after he smashed a fan’s cell phone and then again in Dublin when he clocked a guy at a bar who wouldn’t drink his whiskey. Conor hasn’t had to serve a day behind bars.
As rumors swirled that Tristan Thompson was cheating on Khloe Kardashian in April 2018, TMZ obtained a surveillance video recorded in October 2017 from a hookah lounge outside D.C. … in which the NBA star made out with a chick and motorboated another, who also grabbed his junk.
The cheating story broke as Khloe was days away from giving birth to their daughter, True. She later broke up with Thompson.