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Hollywood Life Gets Another Life With Latest Deal Amid Media Mayhem

Celebrity news site Hollywood Life has been given another life of its own, acquired from its most recent previous owner by , which plans to integrate the site’s journalism about stars, celebs and royals into its own substantial social-media footprint and brand deals.

“We’re keeping the editorial voice and staying true to what Hollywood Life was the past 15 years,” said 10PM Curfew co-founder and CEO Razvan Romnescu, in an interview from his Panama City, Panama base. “We want to be known for breaking news, entertainment. We want to do creator spotlights, brand spotlights, artist spotlights. We have our own voice about people doing cool things. The same thing for brands.“

Crucial to the approach will be a more unified and strategic connection between Hollywood Life’s celebrity-focused journalism and the intensely online content and branded material that 10PM Curfew has been making for more than a decade. It’s a big shift for a relatively venerable news site that has weathered multiple owners the past few years.

“We understand editorial and respect it,” Romanescu said. “Hollywood Life is a 15-year-old brand that hasn’t gotten the love that it deserves.”

Veteran celebrity magazine editor Bonnie Fuller, who had revived Us Weekly magazine in the early Oughts and previously ran Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire’s US version, launched Hollywood Life in 2009 with the then-nascent Penske Media Group. The deal was one of several similar early Penske deals around that time, focused on personality-driven online blogs/news sites focused on specific verticals, including mobile tech-centered Boy Genius Report and Nikke Finke’s Hollywood insider publication Deadline (with which I worked for four years).

The partnership ended three years ago, a year into the pandemic lockdown, with of the stand-alone publication. Fuller in turn sold Hollywood Life last August to digital media startup Factz, and left the publication.

Executives for the two-year-old Factz said according to Penske-owned Variety. But Factz quickly backed off its plans, selling to 10PM Curfew for what Romanescu said was “low seven figures” in a deal that closed March 1.

Hollywood Life’s newest owner has been around since 2012, “even before Instagram,” as Romanescu put it. That said, it’s a different kind of media company, built more to maximize content opportunities on social-media platforms and mobile devices than the Web 1.0-style blogs and posts that characterized Hollywood Life’s slightly older era of online media.

Romanescu said his company hopes to bridge that gap with a more forward-thinking approach to social media for Hollywood Life, which mostly had contented itself with posting brief descriptions and links back to stories on the home site. While that made sense at one point, these days most social-media platforms actively penalize posts that attempt to send their audiences somewhere else.

“When we viewed this strategy, where we’re strongest is almost non-existent on the Hollywood Life site,” said Romanescu. Among the problems: no presence on Instagram’s hugely popular short-video site, Reels. As a result, social media platforms provide little lift for the brand or its stories..

Unlike traditional media, including Hollywood Life, 10PM Curfew focused on content and brand-building that stayed on each social-media platform, avoiding the reduced viewership of posts with off-site links, Romanescu said. 10PM Curfew content is typically build around a series of addresses it controls on each site that include such common tags as @memes or @girls.

“We’re going to implement our 10pm Curfew magic sauce and get them back to a place where the algorithm isn’t just punishing them for trying to send content off the platform,” Romanescu said.

10PM Curfew has deals with major brands such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Tinder, Romanescu said, and now can create advertorial content that can sit on Hollywood Life as well.

10PM Curfew also plans to expand Hollywood Life’s dwindling staff, now just five people amid all the change and uncertainty of the past couple of years.

The site’s publishing philosophy will shift too, with more data-driven focus, more exclusives, all while using social-media trends “a bit more diligently” to drive areas of focus, Romanescu said. The company likely will change the cadence of story production too, pulling back from the Sisyphean task of churning out dozens of me-too stories a day.

“If we were to publish 50 stories a day but only have seven get viewership, we would rather have only 20 stories that get more attention,” Romanescu said.

What will be different is an integration between the social-first approach that has lifted 10PM Curfew to more than a billion monthly views from 70 million subscribers/followers of its content across the major social-media platforms.

“One thing we were never able to offer to our partners was a unified 360(-degree) approach,” Romanescu said. “Now we can help you reach an older audience, aligned with legacy brands. Our brands now can give a social-first campaign and live on with editorial with thoughtful journalists behind it.”

The 10PM deal comes amid a rocky time for media companies both traditional and online only, with thousands of layoffs at publications ranging from the Los Angeles Times to Condé Nast, bankruptcies such as Vice Media, sell-offs like Buzzfeed’s ejection of much of Complex, and more signs of industry-wide distress.

Against that backdrop, 10PM Curfew’s deal is something of an outlier, in several ways, Romanescu acknowledged. Most particularly, it’s an example of a social-media-first newcomer (relatively) buying a news site from the parent company of an established new powerhouse.

Romanescu’s company has staff sprinkled across Europe, Canada and the United States, though both Romanescu and his co-founder are based in Panama City. The Hollywood Life staff, such as it is now, remains based in Los Angeles.

The company is also “looking” for potential other acquisitions, Romanescu said, “but we don’t want to jump the gun and take on more than we can handle. There’s definitely blood in the water and there are publications and talent that deserve a place that’s stable.”