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The Launch of BLTWAY

33491_Original Is D.C. ready for TMZ lite?

That’s probably the best way to describe BLTWAY, a new site on MSNBC that is a joint venture with BermanBraun, the production company run by Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun.

Let’s start by saying: This is no George, the 90s mag that mixed show biz and politics, or even Politico’s Click, the feature side of the D.C. web juggernaut.

Heavy in the use of photos and photo collages, the site is an effort to capture “the celebrity side of politics,”

One of the lead items was titled, “Successful trios offer Supreme lessons,” with the three female high court justices made to look like the three members of the Supremes and promising a “list of other powerful women who worked best in threes.” Another feature, “Why do politicians keep posing outdoors?,” is centered around the cover of Donald Rumsfeld’s upcoming book.

The question is whether the site will eventually develop into a real gossipy site, with paparazzi capturing politicians in not-so-great moments. TMZ had threatened to take their formula to D.C,, but the plans have yet to get off the ground, probably because the symbiosis between celebrities and photographers just doesn’t exist (yet) in the nation’s capital. And while politicians have undoubtedly become more celebrity figures in recent years — BLTWAY sets aside a special space for a Palin Watch — that universe still isn’t huge. The site is definitely trying to go young in a world that skews old. One function allows users to vote on how they like the content, including an “OMG” option. The big test will be how far they can go: Can John Dingell inspire some of the same passion of a say, Justin Bieber?

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