Hollywood celebrity scandal tour launches

Tourists visiting Hollywood will get a paparazzi eye view of celebrity hot spots on a bus tour run with tabloid-style news outfit TMZ.

The tour will swing by infamous Los Angeles-area locales, such as the department store where actress Winona Ryder was busted for shoplifting, and the comedy club where Seinfeld star Michael Richards was videotaped in a racist rant.

No doubt locations like the Viper Room (8852 West Sunset Boulevard) and Chateau Marmont (8221 West Sunset Boulevard) will feature. The former was opened in 1993 and was partly owned by actor Johnny Depp until 2004 – it’s infamous as the site where actor River Phoenix died of a drug overdose on Halloween morning in 1993.

The latter is a hotel very popular with Hollywood celebrities and is where Saturday Night Live star John Belushi died. Coincidentally, both deaths resulted from an overdose of a combination of cocaine and heroin, often called a speedball.

There were plans to make the Viper Room a franchise, but this hasn't happened

During the bus tour, riders will watch clips with “shocking and never-before-seen” video from the TMZ library, according to the tour’s organizers. Participants will also watch clips with TMZ staff members sharing the inside scoop on celebrity-related locales.

“The TMZ Hollywood Tour – Secrets and Celebrity Hot Spots” will be run by Los Angeles-based Starline Tours and to help them capture the very latest news, tour guides on the Starline buses will be armed with cameras, organizers said – even if it occurs right in front of shocked tourists.

“It’ll be on TMZ.com before they get back to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre,” says Philip Ferentinos, marketing director.

That could prove valuable to TMZ. When Michael Jackson stopped breathing on June 25, 2009, from an overdose of powerful medication, tourists on a Starline bus outside his mansion watched paramedics drive him away. Someone on-board caught it on video, which TMZ obtained.

TMZ, which gives celebrity news on its website and on an irreverent television show, is run by attorney Harvey Levin. Its name comes from “Thirty Mile Zone,” a movie studios term from the 1960s that referred to rules for filming in and around Los Angeles.

The TMZ tour begins operating on May 1. Tickets for the two-hour tours will be US$69 adults and US$59 children.

Scott Snowden

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