Chubstr Crush features conversations with women who inspire us. This week, we talk to TMZ’s Website Coordinator, Melissa Chionchio about what it’s like to work for the well known entertainment news company, one of the craziest stories she’s worked, and how she spends her time away from the office. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @SodDribble
What do you do at TMZ?
I am the Website Coordinator for TMZ.com, but that title covers a lot of duties. I handle website video for both TMZ.com and TooFab.com. Along with editing I do some light Photoshop work for web art, digital media management to make videos accessible on all portable devices, and work one-on-one with affiliates to keep the TMZ News Module up and running on their local news websites.
How long have you worked there?
Going on 4-years. I started as a logger and worked overnights for a few months before briefly becoming a production assistant. A spot soon opened up in Web Edit and I started training to become a web editor.
Have you always wanted to work in entertainment in this capacity?
Not even a little bit. I studied theatre in college and grad school and had a pretty good start to a career as a stage manager going when I moved to Los Angeles from the east coast. Wanting to take a break from being a starving artist, I took a few PA jobs in reality TV but it wasn’t until I started at TMZ that I learned editing software. I was thrown into the hustle and fast-paced insanity that comes with breaking news and I absolutely love it! No two days are the same and I can never predict what may come my way.
Take us through a regular workday for you at TMZ. What sort of things do you deal with?
My day starts at 5am. A TooFab.com producer and myself are two of the first folks in, so I’ll take care of video requests for him, such as the previous evening’s funny or shocking TV show moments from ‘American Idol,’ ‘The Bachelor,’ ‘Real Housewives of…Wherever,’ shows like that. The TMZ producers and writers start coming in at 6. I’ll start taking care of video requests for them – cutting footage we shot the night before, and pulling/cutting footage of breaking news of that morning. Throughout the day I can be given anywhere from 2-20 video requests, depending on what’s happening in the world of entertainment news. We do a show called TMZ Live on the site everyday at 1:30pm, so myself and a few other co workers will gather and prep videos for that, which can be an additional 20 clips.
Throughout the day I handle some media management to get our videos available for portable devices, as well as the new XBOX app. My day wraps up after I post a few packages from the TV show on the site and schedule tomorrow’s show promo to run. More times than not, I am completely swamped with breaking news. We may have a few livestream teams out, feeding live footage to the site of a court hearing, or feeding footage back that needs to be cut and posted ASAP. This isn’t like other editing jobs where I have a script to work off of or have a producer sitting next to me. All the work done in Web Edit is turned around as fast as possible, because if we lag someone else breaks the story.
It seems like working at TMZ would be fun and a little crazy. Do you have any interesting stories you can share with us?
The most interesting experience for me has to be dealing with the ever-changing story from Thanksgiving weekend 2009. This was the weekend that Tiger Woods went from getting into a minor fender-bender outside his house to cheating on his wife with numerous women. Because it was a holiday weekend, we were working with a skeleton crew of 4-people; web art, associate producer, coordinating producer, and myself. We nailed the constantly developing story by putting in an unreal amount of hours and busting our asses.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I try to have at least one lazy morning a weekend so I can sip my coffee on the couch. Besides that, I play in a kickball league, which is a riot! I’m a tech lover, memoir reader, horror movie watcher, and wine drinker. I’ve been trying to take myself away from the boredom and monotony of the gym by going to Bikram yoga a few days a week. Roller derby boot camp starts up soon and I’m super excited about it!
Living in L.A., you probably see a little of everything when it comes to style. Do you have any do’s and don’ts for our readers?
Being a big gal, a big “do” would have to be: have your clothes tailored! I’ve dropped almost 100lbs in the last 5-years and only now am I realizing the importance of well-fitting pieces (off the rack rarely fit perfectly, especially with an ever-changing frame). I’m 31 and am too old to have my pants drag on the ground or have my upper arms squeezed into in a shirt. If a piece is too tight in any area – do not buy it! Anything too tight or too baggy will add unwanted attention to your size.
Invest in good pieces that will last a long time, such as high quality pants and jackets. I’m big on accessories like leather bags and billowy scarves. They will last you years and add richness to your outfits.
A big “don’t” would be something I’m guilty of myself – going out in flip-flops and yoga pants when I’m not going to or from yoga class. The brief time I worked overnight made me lazy and I became comfortable with looking shlubby. While my paws are always well manicured, it took a very good friend to remind me that unless I’m on the patio of a beachside bar with a margarita in my hand, no one wants to look at my feet while they’re eating! Living in LA makes it very easy to slip on a pair of flip-flops and go about your day.
Any parting thoughts?
The women you feature as your Chubstr Crushes are absolutely stunning! It’s great to see proud, confident ladies doing their thing and becoming powerhouses in their field.