Television is an efficient biosphere where the perfect predator evolves for every species in the food chain. If reality shows are the coral reef of prime time, then the television-oriented Web site, the Smoking Gun, is its crown-of-thorns starfish.
It was the Smoking Gun (thesmokinggun.com) that revealed in 2000 that Rick Rockwell, the beau ideal of the hit FOX show "Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire," had once been under a restraining order from a former girlfriend. The Smoking Gun, which digs up arrest records, mug shots, show business contracts and divorce papers, became a tip sheet for journalists and a cult Web site for reality show aficionados. It managed to embarrass seemingly squeaky-clean contestants on reality shows from CBS's "Survivor" to Fox's "Joe Millionaire." (Most memorably, it uncovered the early bondage films of a bachelorette, Sarah Kozer.)
Inevitably, but contrary to the laws of nature, the Web site will mutate tonight into the very thing it feeds on: a television show.
"Smoking Gun TV" is Court TV's effort to lighten its deadly earnest schedule ("Forensic Files" and "Catherine Crier Live") with an irreverent, but court-document-based look at celebrity misdeeds. The cable channel bought the Web site three years ago. The host of "Smoking Gun TV" is Mo Rocca, a lanky political reporter on Comedy Central's "Daily Show With Jon Stewart."