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Photo credit: Dax Holt/Adam Glyn/Getty Images
Inside 2 TMZ Veterans’ Plan to Disrupt the Celebrity News Model
Dax Holt and Adam Glyn’s “Hollywood Raw” podcast has broken major stories by not playing the give-and-take game and simply just listening
Dax Holt and Adam Glyn may be known as “those guys that used to be TMZ,” but they’re breaking big exclusives on their own via their “Hollywood Raw” podcast. An October interview with Ally Brooke — in which the former Fifth Harmony singer revealed she was saving herself for marriage — was picked up by Page Six, Us Weekly and even “Good Morning America.”
Last month, Holt and Glyn’s interview Larsa Pippen (the ex-wife of Scottie Pippen) about the Kardashians went viral. Excerpts from the interview were picked up by dozens of outlets: Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Tonight, People and Vanity Fair, all citing “Hollywood Raw.” A clip of Larsa talking about Tristan Thompson posted to YouTube netted 140,000 views alone. Across all channels, the interview netted half a million direct interactions and earned media impressions in the millions, Holt told TheWrap.
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Holt’s and Glyn’s recent success has come from disrupting the traditional celebrity news model.
For decades, the relationship between celebrities and the media was a lopsided give-and-take, with stars granting “exclusives” to publications like People or Vanity Fair in exchange for exorbitant photo rights fees or guaranteed covers.
Dax Holt was at TMZ for 11 years (Photo credit: TMZ_
TMZ flipped that model in 2005 with its quick-hit, gonzo/gotcha journalism that fueled a website and later a syndicated television show. While magazines showed celebrities at their groomed best, TMZ often showed them at their unfiltered worst.
Then came Twitter and Instagram, putting the power back in celebrities’ hands. A star would no longer have to tip off the paparazzi to snap her new engagement ring or negotiate photo rights with a magazine (although any and all coverage was always welcomed). No longer would she stress over an editorially selected cover or headline; she could release the photo or story of her choice when and how she wanted.
Social media allowed celebrities to create and publish their own news. Most would say that’s a good thing; readers would get the news straight from the horse’s mouth. But typically, those stories and images would be curated — published with a positive spin or literally filtered so that the celebrity would be shown in their best light. After all, celebrity is driven by promotion, and who better to do that than celebrities themselves?
But something’s been lost in the TMZ quick-hits and social media self-promotions; there’s no time to ask for elaboration or clarification, no reporters to ask the hard-hitting questions. Questions that Holt and Glyn — two longtime journalists and self-proclaimed celebrity fans — sought answers to.
On top of that, there’s the ongoing pandemic. There are no clubs or parties where stars can be “papped” entering and exiting. There are no glitzy movie premieres with long, packed press lines extending down Hollywood Boulevard.
For Holt and Glyn, the “Hollywood Raw” podcast was the solution — a safe way to engage with celebrities who might not have a project to promote but have strong followings, desire to stay socially relevant and stories to tell.
Holt and Glyn had built a Rolodex of contacts from their years at TMZ. Holt was a clearance manager, Glyn a senior field reporter, and both appeared frequently on-air. But contacts weren’t enough for “Hollywood Raw.” They knew they had to break from other publishers and offer something different.
As Holt told TheWrap, they set out to reveal the “fourth wall of Hollywood,” including set-up paparazzi shoots and the behind-the-scenes negotiations for access and stories. Rather than going for A-listers (and through their gatekeepers), they sought people in their orbits, like bodyguards, brand strategists and even other entertainment journalists.
Their approach? Cut out the give-and-take and simply listen.
“A lot of our best content comes out of the natural flow of questions. It’s not something we plan out ahead of time,” Holt explained. “We just get into a conversation, where it leads is normally somewhere amazing, something that makes headlines. We don’t even have to try; we just keep getting good content because that aspect of being a fan and genuinely being interested in these celebrities, as we are, lends to good topics.”
“We’re not coming in with a bias; we’re just giving a platform to humanize them,” Glyn added. “We’re not here to create clickbait; we’re here to hear their side of everything. There’s no agenda.”
Larsa Pippen on “Hollywood Raw” (Photo credit: Hollywood Raw)
That was their approach with Larsa Pippen, not someone who would be a top-of-mind “get” but someone associated with the Kardashians (through friendship) and the NBA (through her former marriage to NBA great Scottie Pippen) — someone with a lot to say.
Pippen sat down for 55 minutes — longer than anyone involved expected — and opened up about everything, from her NBA marriage, her friendship with Kim Kardashian, and her relationship with Tristan Thompson, the father of Khloe Kardashian’s daughter True
“With Larsa Pippen, she answered everything honestly,” Glyn explained. “We questioned but we didn’t challenge. Our thing was to sit back and let her answer these questions.”
Despite, or perhaps because of, their time at TMZ, Holt and Glyn recognize the value of being smaller and independent. For example, “TMZ” staffers were reportedly told to go light on Ellen DeGeneres because both are Telepictures productions, as is celebrity news show”Extra.” Similarly, E! News and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” are the same network.
“We’re not tied to a big website. We’re not tied to an E! or Us Weekly or any of these other sites. So when we do an interview and it has really good content, no one feels threatened about posting our interviews because it’s not like you’re giving your competitor credit,” Holt explained. “There’s a lot of politics in the entertainment world and they’re going, ‘Well I’m not giving our competitor credit but I’m giving Hollywood Raw [credit], which is just a podcast.”
“A lot of times, a publicist wants their client to be associated with a big-time platform or big outlet. We’re not a big outlet but we have a pretty big platform. So we do a lot of times better than the other shows and other outlets out there,” Glyn added.
Recognizing that their Rolodex has limitations, Holt and Glyn have also tapped a group of celebrities traditional publishers have largely ignored: influencers.
“We had Bryce Hall on, one of the biggest social media stars out there and dating Addison Rae. People like him are the stars of tomorrow; they’re some of the biggest stars out there and making more money than some of those stars you see on network TV,” Glyn explained. “I’m curious when the ‘Entertainment Tonight’s’ and “Access Hollywood’s” are going to stop covering the same people and cross over to these young stars.”
For now, “Hollywood Raw” is happy to court them, finding them more responsive — often via direct message — than traditional publicists. That’s another departure from the old celebrity news model.
“Hollywood Raw” may be growing in audience and prestige, but at the end of the day, Holt and Glyn know they have to deliver a great product across multiple podcasting platforms. Every week.
“We grind every day. We are constantly looking for the next interview and it’s not always easy to get someone. But consistency is the name of the game for a podcast,” Holt concluded. “If you just disappear for two weeks, your audience goes, ‘I don’t know what happened to that person’ or ‘I don’t know where that podcast went.’ So you have to do it.”
Learn more about “Hollywood Raw” here and watch Dax Holt’s and Adam Glyn’s interview with TheWrap below:
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