The Big Mocker

With an acerbic wit, a disdain for publicists, and a love of the “extra useless,” the Defamer has reinvented Hollywood gossip.

  1. The most influential and intimidating gossip in Hollywood lives and works in a two-bedroom unit of a nondescript apartment complex in Los Feliz. Most of the celebrities about whom he writes wouldn't be caught dead in his neighborhood, nor would they recognize him if they ran into him. He's a goateed 31-year-old named Mark Lisanti, who dresses in jeans and T-shirts (a favorite features a picture of Sean Penn snapped after a nightclub scrap and the legend Spicoli Forever). He doesn't hang out at hot spots like Mood or the Cabana Club or lunch at power restaurants like Orso or the Grill. Rather, he holes up in his home office, a small space outfitted with a Sony computer and battered Ikea furniture and decorated with a Sigmund Freud action figure, a few snow globes, and a framed still of Ralph Macchio from the 1986 film Crossroads. In his 18 months as editor and sole writer of Defamer.com, Lisanti has revolutionized Hollywood gossip. Wickedly funny (CBS president Les Moonves is a "generously betoothed future galactic despot") and reflexively impious ("Katie Holmes's Virgin Birth," roared the site's headline announcing the pregnancy of Tom Cruise's fiancée), the Defamer has won a vast following. According to comScore Media Metrix, a firm that measures Internet audiences, the site—which is part of the New York-based Gawker empire—attracted nearly 1 million visitors in the first quarter of 2005, placing it just behind such blogosphere behemoths as the Drudge Report. For people in t...