By Anne Kingston - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 0 Comments
A vital player in the new Hollywood hype machine, Lui is building an empire out of ‘smut’
On Feb. 24, the day the entertainment complex gathers for the lucrative popularity contest known as the Academy Awards, Elaine Lui will wake in her Los Angeles hotel room before 6 a.m. For Lui, who produces Canada’s pre-eminent celebrity gossip website, laineygossip.com, this is a big game day or, as she puts it, “the Super Bowl of gossip.” As an on-air correspondent for CTV’s eTalk, Lui is also part of the spectacle, providing red carpet play-by-play. She’ll then hoof it backstage to the press room to blog to her fellow “smuthounds” and tweet to her 66,615 followers. One year, she shared a tale of how Sean Penn blew cigarette smoke in her face.
Once the broadcast wraps, Lui’s real work begins: she returns to her hotel, where she and TV writer Duana Taha, a laineygossip.com contributor, will spend the next 12 hours posting—“best” and “worst” fashion, big moments, bad behaviour—with the mix of opinionated snark and fan-girl gush for which the site is known. Lui produces between 2,000 and 4,500 words a day, five days a week, on everything from Tilda Swinton’s bad-ass style to Lindsay Lohan’s bad behaviour. On Oscar night, they churn out more than 10,000 words. “We want posts ready for readers in the U.K. when they wake,” says Lui, sitting in a Toronto hotel bar in February. “Readers expect it.”
Such devotion and hard work explains, in part, how the 39-year-old Vancouver resident has carved out a niche in the crowded celebrity-gossip sphere—a gridlock that spans Yahoo’s OMG! with 28.5 million visitors a month to conglomerates such as Disney, which use subsidiaries such as ABC to plug its movies. (Similar synergies have helped Lui: when she broke the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes split last year, the Globe and Mail, which shares a corporate parent with eTalk, covered the breakup and interviewed her about the scoop.) Over the last three months, laineygossip.com had five million visits and more than 20 million page views, but her influence is even more significant. Google “celebrity gossip” and 64 million results pop up: laineygossip.com is No. 5.