If Perez Hilton plays nice, he could name his price

Wed Apr 9, 2008 3:33am EDT
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By Andrew Wallenstein

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Perez Hilton is getting fit.

That's evident enough if you're one of the millions of mostly twentysomething females who make his salacious salon for celebrity gossip a daily destination. Slowly but surely, a slicker, trimmer Perez is replacing the bloated, scruffy version that first rose to fame as Hollywood's favorite online gadfly.

"This summer I want to frickin' jog shirtless in Malibu by the Fourth of July," Hilton, 30, announced in a video on PerezHilton.com (www.perezhilton.com).

But Hilton, whose real name is Mario Lavandeira, is whipping more than just his body into shape; his brand also seems to be undergoing a subtle transformation.

He made his jogging goal public on a recently added video component to his site, which began running advertising this week. The so-called "queen of all media" also has been logging plenty of TV time lately, making his debut on MTV's "TRL" on Monday; he also has his own occasional series of branded specials on sister network VH1; and he is set to make a cameo on "Family Guy" next season.

And then there's the tone of his blog, notorious for scatological scrawlings superimposed on unflattering celebrity snapshots. While white marks connoting cocaine use are still occasionally dotted under the noses of this or that starlet, there's been a discernible dialing down of the blog's nastiness, featuring more rah-rah posts of his pet favorites ranging from Madonna to Kylie Minogue. His tastemaker bona fides have been confirmed by reported negotiations with Warner Bros. Records to get his own imprint.

There's little doubt the self-proclaimed "gay Latino Oprah" is cleaning up his act, possibly gussying himself up in hopes of selling his mini-empire to the highest bidder but with his hand on the helm intact.

Henry Copeland, CEO of BlogAds, the advertising network that handles PerezHilton.com, isn't about to spill the beans on Hilton's next move. But he believes his client has just begun tapping his potential in the media marketplace. "When you've got this incredibly loyal core audience, of course you're asking yourself, 'How do you extend the brand?"'   Continued...

<p>Internet personality Perez Hilton reacts to photographers as he arrives to attend a party celebrating the U.S. release of Mika's album 'Life in Cartoon Motion' in New York March 29, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>