For celebrity-obsessed visitors to Los Angeles, it's no longer enough to take a tour of the palatial homes of their favorite stars.
As the city's $12-billion-a-year tourism industry rebounds, tour operators are offering visits to the sites where stars and B-level celebrities have died, dined, fought, committed crimes and thrown headline-grabbing tantrums.
In May, the largest tour operator in Los Angeles, Starline Tours, will team up with the celebrity news source TMZ to create a guided tour that cruises past the sites where TMZ has reported its biggest celebrity scoops. In June, Starline will launch a tour of celebrity crime scenes, which will be led by former law enforcement officials who investigated the crimes.
It's an attempt, tour promoters say, to attract younger visitors who are more interested in the happenings of reality TV stars such as Kim Kardashian than the homes of actors Lucille Ball and Lionel Barrymore.
ABOUT THE TOURS
The TMZ tour will change with each new celebrity scandal, but operators say it may include such spots as the nightclub where "Seinfeld's" Michael Richards went on a racially tinged rant, the high-end department store were actress Winona Ryder was caught shoplifting and the courthouse where Lindsay Lohan is being prosecuted on a grand-theft charge.
"People can never get too much of celebrities," Starline spokesman Philip Ferentinos said. "And today the definition of celebrity has changed so much."
Ferentinos said the tour will be offered on a 24-seat bus that will be fitted with four 26-inch TV screens. During the tours, the screens will show footage of the celebrity incidents broadcast on the TMZ television show or on the website.
To completely immerse tourists in the world of celebrity-tracking, the TMZ tour bus will be equipped with a video camera to tape any celebrity who happens to pop up along the route. The footage shot can be sent directly to the TMZ studios for broadcast later that day, Ferentinos said.
As for the crime-scene tour, Ferentinos said visitors will probably be taken to sites such as the Brentwood condo where O.J. Simpson's wife and her friend Ronald Goldman were killed, and the restaurant where Robert Blake's wife was slain.
The new tours are only the latest offbeat sightseeing adventures Hollywood has to offer.
A tour that launched in November lets tourists join paparazzi on the prowl for unsuspecting celebrities.
In January, Hollywood history buff Philip Mershon launched a guided walking tour of the history of the entertainment industry in the city.
Says Mershon, "It's starting to catch on."
IF YOU GO
TMZ tour tickets available beginning Monday for tours beginning mid-May.
COST: $69 ($59 ages 3-11)
Rolling With The Paparazzi Tour
COST: $150 a person ($400 for three people)
Felix in Hollywood Tour