In 2007, DJ Samantha Ronson files a $20 million defamation suit against Perez and Jill Ishkanian, the founder of CelebrityBabylon.com. Police had reported finding cocaine in the car of Ronson’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, Lindsay Lohan, and Perez had linked to Ishkanian’s report, citing anonymous sources who claimed the cocaine was Ronson’s. CelebrityBabylon issues a retraction, but Perez refuses, and Ronson is ordered to pay Perez nearly $85,000 in legal fees.
Filed under: Queen of All Media
Perez has a knack for personal branding. His 2007 VH1 show, What Perez Sez, only spans four episodes, but he develops a clothing line, secures a syndicated radio deal, and appears at events, on TV, and in films and music videos. He also releases the book Red Carpet Suicide: A Survival Guide on Keeping Up with the Hiltons, a how-to for the wanna-be famous (sample chapters: “Put the ‘Ho’ in Hollywood,” “Have a Meltdown,” and “Pretend to Give Back”) and launches CocoPerez.com, a blog about celebrity style. A second book, Perez Hilton’s True Bloggywood Stories: The Glamorous Life of Beating, Cheating, and Overdosing, hits stores this month.
Filed under: Undead Dictators > Questionable Sources
In August 2007, Perez famously reports that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is dead. The dictator, as it turns out, is very much alive.
Filed under: Old Media Meets New Media
In January 2008, Forbes ranks Perez No. 1—for the second year in a row—on its “Web Celeb 25” list, the magazine’s annual ranking of Internet heavyweights.
Filed under: Brilliant PR Moves
In March 2009, Perez—one of the most gleeful critics of Britney Spears during her months-long public breakdown—stars in a short video that opens each performance of the singer’s comeback Circus tour. Another major celebrity to jump on the Perez bandwagon: Madonna, who last year posted a YouTube video referencing Perez’s dog, Teddy, then dedicated a song to Perez in concert.
Filed under: Pseudo-Debates
In April 2009, Perez is a judge at the Miss USA pageant, where he asks Miss California, Carrie Prejean, whether she thinks same-sex marriage should be legal in all states. Her answer—essentially, no—prompts him to post a video on his site calling her a “dumb bitch.” In a later interview he says, “I called her the B word, and hey, I was thinking the C word.”
Filed under: Celebrity Smackdowns
In June 2009, Perez posts photos of Dustin Lance Black, the gay Oscar-winning writer of Milk, having unprotected sex (he later takes down the photos). Toward the end of the month Perez is allegedly punched in the face by Liborio “Polo” Molina, the road manager for the Black Eyed Peas, after Perez calls the band’s front man, will.i.am, a “faggot.” GLAAD objects to Perez’s use of the slur; Perez apologizes to the gay community (though not to GLAAD) and announces plans to donate proceeds from his subsequent lawsuit against Molina to the Matthew Shepard Foundation, in honor of the young Wyoming man murdered because he was gay. The foundation declines his offer.
Filed under: Backlash
Also in June 2009, Perez posts that Michael Jackson is pulling a “stunt” when the singer goes into cardiac arrest: “Either he’s lying or making himself sick,” Perez writes. “Get your money back, ticket holders!!!!” He removes the offending post, but celebrities such as Pete Wentz, Ashlee Simpson-Wentz, and John Mayer lash out at him on Twitter, an “unfollow Perez” campaign initiated by enraged Jackson fans causes him to lose 800,000 of his 1.8 million Twitter followers, and an online petition to remove him as a nominee for the 2009 Teen Choice Awards gets
Filed under: Song and Dance
Perez has long plugged his favorite musicians—most famously, Lady Gaga. In summer 2009, he gets his own Warner Bros. record label, Perezcious Music, and stages a 20-city concert tour, “Perez Hilton Presents.” The tour garners a lukewarm reception; while some shows are well attended, attendance at others is so sparse that tickets are given away for free.