Since TMZforKidz launched, the site has seen a steady increase in attention. Blogs including Daily Candy promoted it last week; Cimbalo said the site recently received 20,000 unique visits in one day.
TMZ also noticed, and they're not happy. Lawyers for TMZ's parent company, Warner Bros., sent Cimbalo and Dreamhost, the server company that hosts TMZforKidz, a cease-and-desist letter on April 8. It said the site violates the trademarks and intellectual property of TMZ. Dreamhost shut down TMZforKidz, and Cimbalo and Tremblay lost the majority of their posts.
"I'm not using their logo, all of the code is originally mine," Cimbalo said. "It seems ironic that this website that is dedicated to making people's lives an absolute hell is now all, 'How dare you?'"
"We were trying to be playful about it at the outset by putting the 'Z' backwards," Tremblay said, referring to TMZforKidz's childishly-scrawled logo. "It's meant to be satire. For about 30 seconds you're alarmed, like 'Good God, what have they done?' But I would be shocked if someone who continued to scroll down still thought this was real."
So within four hours, TMZforKidz was up and running again with a new host. Considering the "endless number of hosting providers out there," Cimbalo doesn't plan to shelve his satirical side project, even if TMZ tries to shut him down again. TMZ did not respond to ABCNews.com's repeated requests for comment on whether it plans to pursue further action against the site.
But Cimbalo hopes TMZ eventually embraces its weird little stepchild. After all, he argued, isn't imitation the sincerest form of flattery?
"I think of TMZ as one of those guilty pleasures that is far more guilty than others," he said. "They've carved out their own unique corner of hell, and I guess you've got to admire them for that."