TMZ lost its No. 2 man earlier this year in dramatic fashion. The Wrap reported in January that TMZ founder Harvey Levin and his protege and news director Mike Walters "very nearly came to blows in front of the newsroom shortly before Christmas" over Levin's apparent refusal to renew the contract of Walters' sister, Liz, also a TMZ staffer. The pair left the company shortly after, and though Walters could've taken a job at Us Weekly, he instead had a plan to "crush" TMZ, The Dirty reported in March. It's now clear what that plan involved. Walters has just launched The Blast, a rival site that brings together "an all-star team of journalists from places like People, the Daily Mail, and MSNBC," Walters tells the New York Times.
Aiming for a blend of hard and soft celebrity news, the team behind The Blast, which is backed by the France-based Banijay Group, "will be first, we will be accurate, and we will always bring you the real story," reads a post on the site. In what the Times sees as a possible dig at Levin, Walters—who again has his sister working at his side—adds, "You are only as good as the people around you. It's not about you. It's about your team." Walters does see value in the decade and a half he spent working under Levin, though. "I learned two things from Harvey," he says. "One is urgency and the other is work ethic." Now, "I'm going to do what I've done for the last 15 years, which is break news with credibility and backbone and authority." (Here's how TMZ gets its scoops.)