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MSN to launch celeb news site

February 05, 2009|Meg James

In a bid for a slice of the lucrative celebrity news business, Microsoft's MSN and production firm BermanBraun today plan to roll out the latest star-obsessed website.

The ad-supported venture called Wonderwall, which has been in development for a year, seeks to grab viewers from established media outlets such as People and Us magazines and TV programs including "Extra" and "Entertainment Tonight," as well as the more rough-and-tumble gossip websites TMZ and Perez Hilton.

"There is a lot of room in the middle for a more balanced approach," said Rob Bennett, MSN general manager. "We wanted something edgy and thought-provoking but that is still respectful of the people that we're making light of."

The site, which is intended to have the look and feel of a glossy magazine, also is an attempt to attract users to MSN and get them to stay longer, Bennett said.

Media-buying firm MediaVest signed several advertisers as inaugural sponsors. Bennett declined to name them. The venture employs five people.

MSN and BermanBraun anticipate selling ads to Hollywood movie studios and TV networks, which are shifting more spending to the Internet.

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meg.james@latimes.com

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