The TMZ Celebrity Tour, a bus trip carrying passengers to celebrity homes and various Hollywood hot spots, will have a new look starting Thursday as the entertainment news operation ends its relationship with Starline Tours.
The two entities teamed up nearly six years ago, but now TMZ — known for its flashy website and syndicated celebrity TV news show — accuses Starline of failing to pay its share of revenue on time, the Los Angeles Times reported.
TMZ will officially end the relationship Thursday, when it will stop using Starline buses and drivers for the TMZ tours of Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the Sunset Strip.
“Starline has repeatedly violated the terms of the agreement for over a year,” Jason Beckerman, an attorney representing TMZ, told The Times.
A Starline Tours official, however, told the The Times that TMZ failed to justify ending the partnership and, under its contract, is forbidden to operate a tour in the area for two years.
“We had hoped we could work it out but it won’t be worked out,” Carlos Villar, the senior marking manager for Starline Tours, told The Times.
But TMZ is continuing with the tours. According to its website, the celebrity tours that had originated from the TCL Chinese Theatre will begin instead with a separate operator from the Hard Rock Cafe on Hollywood Boulevard and from The Grove shopping center.
Prospective passengers visiting TMZ’s website are directed to separate ticket-buying sites, depending whether they want to take the tour Wednesday or after Wednesday.
With 147 buses and a history that dates to the 1960s, Starline Tours dwarfs all other tour bus operators in Los Angeles, according to The Times. And TMZ, which stands for thirty-mile zone — the radius of the historic Hollywood studio area — is one of the nation’s most popular celebrity news operations, with a website that reaches at least 7.5 million people a month, a syndicated television program and more than 4 million Twitter followers.
The rift between the two businesses began about two years ago, according to a lawsuit filed in March by TMZ against Starline. The lawsuit contends that Starline failed to split the revenues and pay TMZ its share on time.
—City News Service