The blog universe is about get a lot more stars.
Political commentator Arianna Huffington told The New York Times on Monday that she'll join the blogosphere with a new celebrity-packed Web log next month as part of her latest media venture, the Huffington Post. The ongoing forum will feature commentary from 300 opinionated minds in entertainment and politics.
Former news anchor Walter Cronkite, talk-show host Bill Maher, music mogul David Geffen, director Rob Reiner, writer David Mamet, novelist Norman Mailer and actors Warren Beatty, John Cusack, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Diane Keaton are included in the star-studded lineup of participants who have already signed on for the project. The bloggers will not be paid but will be given the unfettered right to voice their comments in an uncensored forum.
"This gives me a chance to sound off with a few words or a long editorial," Cronkite, a retired "CBS Evening News" anchorman, told the Times. "It's a medium that is new and interesting, and I thought I'd have some fun."
Huffington, a nationally syndicated columnist and author who ran against Arnold Schwarzenegger in California's 2003 gubernatorial race, is promoting the site as a nonstop virtual talk show. "The two most interesting things happening online are the news and the blogosphere, and what we're doing here is bringing them together," she told The Associated Press. The site will also deliver breaking news around the clock and give its impassioned readers the opportunity to post their own comments as well.
Although many of the bloggers are liberals, Huffington has recruited a few conservatives to help balance out the political spectrum, including Wall Street Journal commentator John Fund and former Bush speechwriter David Frum.
Huffington wooed many of the bloggers in a letter to potential contributors, the Times reported. "You're actually already doing the hardest work of being a blogger: having interesting opinions and fresh takes on the hot stories of the day," she wrote.
Matt Drudge, creator of the right-wing Drudge Report Web site, told the Times he was excited for Huffington but expressed doubts about how such a high-profile project would be able to maintain its momentum in the long run.
"I suspect the Hollywood players will find it harder to maintain a compelling Web spot than to open big at the box office," he said. "There are not simply thousands of theatres you have to pack in, [but] there are millions of Internet users and eyeballs to dazzle."
Portions of the blog will be published in newspapers and Web sites owned by Tribune Media Services, which has teamed up with Huffington for the venture and already syndicates her newspaper column.
"[This] is bringing a whole group of people into the blogosphere who haven't been a part of it," Huffington said in a statement Tuesday (April 26). "Plus our partnership with Tribune will allow newspaper readers to get a sample of the amazing conversation that is happening online. It combines the best elements of the old guard and the vanguard in a fresh and distinctive way."
The site is set to launch on May 9 at www.huffingtonpost.com.