For once, the joke's on TMZ.
The gossip website that so many celebrities love to hate now has an enemy of its own: TMZforKidz, a site that looks like TMZ, sounds like TMZ, but actually parodies the entertainment news service.
"There's something about TMZ's tone and the way it's written that's so uniquely theirs and so insipid that I'm surprised no one's tried to mimic it before," TMZforKidz co-founder Guy Cimbalo told ABCNews.com in a phone interview. "All it takes is a few bad puns and bold faces and you're off to the races."
Cimbalo, 34, started the site "about a month ago" with his friend Jean-Paul Tremblay, 35. Both work in Brooklyn, N.Y. as writers and consultants. According to Tremblay, it started as a joke -- What if there was a TMZ for kids? "Then a number of friends said it would be great if the thing actually existed," he said, "because it's a sort of commentary on what the folks at TMZ do."
Think of it as The Onion of celebrity news. TMZforKidz peddles fake gossip about teen, tween, child and even infant celebrities, the idea being that if people continue to crave dirt about the (mostly) adult stars TMZ covers, it's only a matter of time before they want similar stuff on their offspring. (Countless online photo galleries of Suri Cruise and her ilk suggest there's an appetite for that.)
"Ostensibly, the idea is that it's OK for us to dwell on who Lindsay Lohan or Jessica Simpson is dating," said Tremblay, "So at what point do we say it's not OK to care about this sixth grader dating this fifth grader, even if they're famous?"
To that end, TMZforKidz aims to shock and amuse. A recent item about Gwyneth Paltrow's daughter featured the headline "Apple Martin: 'Mummy Needs to Chill the F--- Out'" and an anecdote about how the 6-year-old exploded with expletives after the always-poised Paltrow refused to let her go on a Legoland ride.
"I just thought the image of this precious, precocious girl spewing out the most vile curse words was funny," Cimbalo said.
A post about celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe's newborn son said the boy is already a fashion victim, quoting an "infant insider" who revealed that Zoe tried to squeeze 2-week-old Skyler into a pair of too-tight jeans: "Skyler was noticeably uncomfortable in the outfit … The jeans were so tight there wasn't even room for his wee-wee!"
You could be forgiven for thinking TMZforKidz is a legitimate TMZ spinoff. The sites have similar logos, headline styles, and formatting, to say nothing of the tone of their posts.
TMZforKidz also features hokey drawings purportedly by children (actually by the founders' adult friends) not unlike the visual mashups TMZ makes (on Wednesday, TMZ pasted Charlie Sheen's head on top of a man holding a sign saying "Will Act for Food"). A recent TMZforKidz drawing featured a crayon-rendition of Britney Spears threatening paparazzi with an umbrella after she had shaved her head.
Cimbalo said it didn't take long to mimic the gossip giant.
"I did all the coding in maybe a couple of days and then I started writing posts," he said. "As soon as I came up with 'Suri Cruise's Turtle Has Two Weeks to Live," I felt like we had struck on the essence of it."