Hollywood.com Relaunch Brings Celeb News Without the ‘Train Wreck’

Does the world need another Web site to provide speculation and grainy photos of what Lindsey Lohan did last night? Not really, says Hollywood.com president and COO Kevin Davis, which is why he’s relaunching his site as an alternative to the “train wreck” celebrity news sources like TMZ.com and Perez Hilton.

“Over the past year, sites like TMZ and Perez and Gawker — those on the gossipy side of the celebrity business — have grown exponentially,” Davis said. “But sites on the other side of the experience [like] IMDB, Yahoo Movies, even Entertainment Weekly — the informational sites — nothing much has changed there in a long time. There is a tremendous opportunity to help set a new standard.”

The new Hollywood.com, with offices in Los Angeles, New York and Boca Raton, will launch with a small direct ad sales staff and an in-house creative group. Davis, a former VP for the Variety Online Group, has also brought over a handful of other executives from Variety, including Benjamin Chan, his VP of sales. Hollywood.com’s director of marketing and project management are also from Variety Online.

Davis said Hollywood.com would try to focus on ad deals that went beyond banner ads to incorporate sponsors with specific movies or other titles.

“Our value proposition is that it’s very expensive to do a product placement in a movie or a specific title, but people coming to us to talk about the Dark Knight or Sex and The City, we can arrange a ‘brought to you by’ kind of approach,” he said.

The URL Hollywood.com has been claimed since 1994, making it one of the oldest entertainment brands online. It’s been through several changes in ownership, and was most recently part of Hollywood Media Corporation, operator of ticketing sites like Broadway.com and MovieTickets.com. But Hollywood.com was taken private earlier this year, becoming part of R&S Investments of Boca Raton, Florida, and will soon relaunch with new functionalities and a revamped editorial mission.

The new site, which should launch later this month, will focus on celebrity news, movie listings, reviews and industry news. “We’re not asking people to switch. We know you’ll still go to TMZ for gossip. We’re just asking to be part of the mix by providing information and deeply surrounding stories,” he said.

The site currently boasts about 23 million page views and 4.2 million unique users a month. Signs of the relaunch can be seen already; for example, news stories about Lohan center on her career while taking an upbeat, supportive tone, and mention the details of her personal life only tangentially.

Although users will not be able to buy tickets for movies directly from Hollywood.com, they will be able to find showtimes and click through to a landing page on MovieTickets.com through a partnership with that site.

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