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Jared Eng and Miley Cyrus at a screening of her Hannah Montana movie.
Gliding meekly through the morass, looking like a skinny schoolboy in his navy toggle coat, was Jared Eng, a 28-year-old blogger who was enthusiastically waved into every V.I.P. nook.
An almost imperceptible ritual would ensue: Mr. Eng made contact with a handler, who in turn whispered something into the celebrity’s ear. A dim glow of recognition flashed across the celebrity’s face, and Mr. Eng was warmly received, sometimes with a kiss.
No introduction was needed with Ms. Lively, the star of “Gossip Girl” — the two had met many times before. Their conversation lasted five minutes and resulted in an “exclusive” post the next day. The headline? “Blake Lively’s Thanksgiving Plans Revealed.”
Even by the lax standards of celebrity journalism, this was a trifle of a story, but it is precisely the kind of cheery, quotidian, Britney-goes-to-Starbucks stuff that has turned Just Jared, a gossip blog started by Mr. Eng, into such a runaway hit among millions of readers.
It might also explain the adulation Mr. Eng enjoys from press agents, who practically shove clients his way, knowing that his is a snark- and judgment-free zone that treats celebritydom as a kind of never-ending slumber party.
“A lot of bloggers will just grab stuff and make judgments,” said Kelly Bush, the chief executive of ID, a public relations firm in Los Angeles that counts Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Sean Penn among its clients. “I love the fact that he’s successful because he’s not trying to be negative.”
Or, as Taylor Swift told him in a recent video on JustJared.com: “You’re really, really nice! You’re really positive!”
In fact, more than a few publicists have taken to nicknaming Mr. Eng the “nice Perez Hilton,” in reference to the self-described “Queen of Gossip” known for drawing squiggly insults on the photos of celebrities.
And being nice seems to be winning out. According to comScore, which monitors Internet traffic, JustJared.com racked up 3.3 million unique visitors in December, beating not only Perez Hilton, who had 2.2. million unique visitors, but also other entertainment sites like Jezebel, Vanity Fair, Radar Online and the Hollywood Reporter.
(Henry Copeland, who manages the sales and technology teams for PerezHilton.com, disputed that Mr. Eng had pulled ahead. He pointed to figures from Quantcast that show PerezHilton.com with 7.6 million people, compared with 5.7 million for JustJared.com, for a 30-day period beginning Dec. 12.)
Either way, Mr. Eng is not one to spew competitive fire. “I don’t throw anyone under the bus,” he said. “It’s all objective and/or positive.”
An hour before the jewelry party at Lavo, Mr. Eng arrived at the Four Seasons Hotel across the street. He ordered water at the bar. “I have the Asian curse,” he said, explaining that he becomes flushed after a few drinks. He seemed more nervous talking about himself than he is talking to famous people. His lips flutter a bit before the words come out.
A self-described child of the computer generation, he built a proto-blog in sixth grade, long before the word entered the vernacular — a simple HTML site hosted variously by Yahoo! or Tripod, where he posted personal photos and ramblings.
Mr. Eng had a very sheltered childhood, growing up in Fresh Meadows, Queens, the third oldest among five boys. His Chinese-American parents raised him strictly, limiting his television diet to 30 minutes per week. They stressed academics, which paid off when Mr. Eng got in to Columbia University, where he studied computer science.
But his real major was pop culture. “That’s when I discovered Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, ’N Sync,” he said. “That’s when I fell in love with celebrity.”
After college, Mr. Eng went to work for Time Inc., analyzing magazine distribution, but he spent his free time blogging about celebrities, scouring the Web for juicy tidbits. In 2005, the blog became time-consuming enough that he decided to go pro, quitting his job to start Just Jared.
As his traffic numbers grew, Mr. Eng began breaking celebrity stories on his own. “People have learned to trust me,” he said. While many so-called exclusives are bestowed by publicists, Mr. Eng said many tips now come from devoted readers — like one about Ms. Portman’s pregnancy.
Mr. Eng says he was the first to publish online images of the 2006 People Magazine cover featuring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with their newborn, Shiloh. He prefaced the scoop with the following: “WEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!” (Mr. Eng is a big fan of exclamation points.) He also takes some credit for promoting newer celebrities like Ke$ha, whose debut single, “Tik Tok,” he blogged about early on and incessantly.
His taste, meanwhile, remains proudly mass-market. Even the name of his site is a fanboy nod to “Will & Grace” — specifically to the character Jack McFarland’s one-man show, “Just Jack.”
It’s hard to pinpoint when Just Jared joined the establishment, but a good guess might be last August, when it was mentioned on HBO’s “Entourage.” When the character Vince accidentally revealed on Twitter that he had sex with the porn star Sasha Grey, his manager, Eric, sounds the alarm by saying: “Now TMZ, Perez Hilton and Just Jared will want to know if Sasha is your girlfriend!”
Naturally, Mr. Eng blogged about it. Long-time fans were exultant, adding comments like, “OMG YOU’RE FAMOUS JARED LOL.”
Blogging, even about celebrities, is not glamorous. Mr. Eng posts about 65 items per day, seven days a week, from the moment he wakes up — sometimes at 5 a.m. Sometimes he doesn’t sleep.
In addition to Just Jared, there is Just Jared Jr., a sister site devoted to the Miley Cyrus set, and three Twitter feeds, including a personal one (@JaredEng), where he updates his 80,000-plus followers on things like what he ate for dinner and a tidbit from last night’s party.
With the money the site brings in, he moved out of his parents’ house in Queens three years ago to a two-bedroom condo on East 29th Street, which doubles as his blogging bunker. On a recent weekday, Mr. Eng politely asked a journalist to take off his shoes before giving a tour of his spotless home, which felt the opposite of lived-in.
Inside, he has two laughably large computer screens: one monitoring his blog and overflowing e-mail accounts; the other, even larger, streaming the latest paparazzi photos and hundreds of Twitter feeds — favorites include Kanye West’s college-age stylist (@claycassius) and John Legend’s girlfriend (@chrissyteigen). A 50-inch television, mounted a few feet away, was paused in the middle of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
The site’s revenue comes almost entirely from display ads, from prestigious advertisers like MTV, NBC, Coca-Cola and Disney, to lesser-known diet and coupon brands. He makes enough to support five full-time employees, including Mr. Eng’s brother, Jason Eng, 33, a former hedge fund trader who is now the company’s chief executive.
“We’ve grown this into a real, viable business,” said Jason, the oldest Eng brother. He declined to disclose the site’s earnings, except to say, “This year we’re easily going to gross seven figures.”
Meanwhile, Jared’s offline fame continues to grow. He recently hired a business consultant, Charlie Walk, a former vice president of Epic Records, to grow the young brand. Mr. Walk helped negotiate a partnership with Lacoste, which is building a studio at its Madison Avenue offices, where Mr. Eng can videotape branded celebrity interviews for his blog.
Just Jared also hired its first public relations firm, 42West, to promote the site and its founder.
“I’ve always celebrated celebrities,” Mr. Eng said, taking stock of his success. “I never wanted to tear them down. That’s why I have so many devoted readers.”
It just goes to show that Perez is losing popularity which each passing day. Cursetina is getting her revenge! Haha. Seriously though, JustJared is such a positive site and has been greatly supportive of Christina. We're happy they are spreading the love for her too.Source: TheNewYorkTimes