Ken Rosenthal. John Heyman. Bob Nightingale.
These are just some of the seemingly omnipresent names on your Twitter feed if you are a Major League Baseball fan around this time of the year. July 31st is the trade deadline, the last chance for the good teams to get a little better and the bad teams to leverage their movable assets and begin planning for the future. The week prior to the deadline tends to be insane. ESPN, Fox Sports, and the MLB Network all have their talking heads exclusively breaking news or merely reacting to someone else’s big scoop. That’s when you hear the old familiar phrase “as originally reported by…” over and over again.
But, quick, tell me who broke the news that Margot Robbie and Jared Leto had been cast as Harley Quinn and the Joker in Suicide Squad. Or that Jurassic World’s Colin Trevorrow had been hired to direct Star Wars: Episode 9. Or that CBS is finally exploring the potential for a new Star Trek TV show. Who was the first to get a hold of that leaked version of the Terminator: Genisys script? Who kept telling us Sony and Marvel really were working on a deal to share Spider-Man? Who beat Marvel to the punch and revealed Benedict Cumberbatch had been cast as the title character in the upcoming fantasy-action flick Doctor Strange?
At a certain point, those types of stories seem to lose any sense of authorship.
Of course, this is not an exact comparison. The journalistic handling of the comings and goings of a professional sports league is not the same as the internet rumor mill for movies and TV shows. There are no overlapping cable channels all trying to scoop each other for movie news. Instead, there are a handful of websites and internet reporters who often don’t even go by their real names. Whoever breaks the story first has maybe a 48-hour window (72, tops) before the news is so widely re-reported throughout the rest of the internet that everyone forgets who broke the story in the first place.
If you do pause to trace such stories back to their source, though, it’s usually going to be Latino Review, former Latino Review reporter El Mayimbe’s new site Heroic Hollywood, Devin Faraci of BirthMoviesDeath, one of the industry trades (Hollywood Reporter, Variety, The Wrap, EW) or truly just some random interview a producer/director/writer/actor gave somewhere, even on the red carpet of a premiere.
As a baseball fan, I know all about Ken Rosenthal. As a movie fan, though, I know very little about the internet’s super scoopers. Luckily, Grantland recently ran a profile of El Mayimbe.
Here are 12 things I learned:
1) He is a 41-year-old Queens, New York transplant whose real name is Umberto Gonzalez, reflecting his Dominican and Columbian descent.
2) He was the first to report that Brandon Routh had been cast as Superman, Heath Ledger as the Joker and Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy.
3) He took his pen name from The Heat. “He likes to call himself Mayimbe McCauley, after the De Niro character in Heat,” says The Wrap’s Jeff Sneider. “Every little piece of information is like a mini-heist for him.”
4) His father is a commercial landlord who still owns property in Queens and Brooklyn.
5) Physically, Gonzales is the anti-Harry Knowles, the notoriously overweight, bespectacled, curiously haired film nerd who pioneered “fanboy journalism” through Ain’t It Cool News, which he launched in his Austin, Texas bedroom in 1996. Gonzales got his start feeding tips to Knowles for AICN before moving on to Latino Review.
As described by Grantland, ”[Gonzales] is tall and handsome in an unpretty Bobby Cannavale kind of way.” He prefers to look more like a power producer on his way to a breakfast meeting than a fanboy journalist. “I know some geeky guys,” he says. “They’re all alpha males. They dress well. They make a good income. They’re normal guys that like sports. They’re well groomed. They don’t fit the stereotype. That’s part of the reason I started Heroic Hollywood — to appeal to alpha geeks. Guys who like the geek stuff, but also like clothes, fine living.”
6) He’s ready to go to court if need be. Marvel threatened legal action over his Iron Man 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy scoops but never followed through on it. Gonzalez is a “self-taught expert on New York and California’s journalistic shield laws” and contemplated pursuing a law degree before he got into the film biz as a development executive.
7) He trades favors for most of his scoops. For example, “He takes care of people who need things facilitated and they take care of him. You want a guest-list slot, a table, some bottle service? He’s got you. Maybe if your paths cross again, he’ll ask you what you hear about this or that.”
8) Some of the scoops come from disgruntled employees, others from rival executives and yet others from insiders who simply get a kick out of watching the ensuing chaos. If a studio has low employee morale, they are more likely to be scooped, as Gonzalez explained, “If employee morale is low, there’s always a vulnerability.”
9) A lot of the scoops come from studio employees on the absolute lowest rung of the economic latter, such as caterers, bathroom attendants, doormen, messengers and especially bartenders.
10) Everyone’s so much more paranoid after the Sony hack that to quell fears he’s considering buying an Iridium satellite phone, which is actually the “preferred encrypted-communication device of the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama Bin Laden. “
11) He does have a moral code. “I don’t do coke or pussy,” he says. “I don’t facilitate cocaine because I’m half-Colombian and my father had a restaurant in the late ’80s — smack in the middle of the drug war — in Jackson Heights, Queens.” Gonzalez says “TNT cops” — tactical narcotics investigators tasked with street-level drug enforcement — used to harass Colombian business owners “just for the hell of it. So I wouldn’t dare break my father’s heart. Don’t ask me to score you blow, and don’t ask me to get you prostitutes. I’ll kill that relationship, and I think [my sources] know that.” Moreover, if the scoop coming his way is simply about an actor’s drug or sex habit he sits on that and does nothing with it, “That’s personal, and that’s where you get into danger.”
12) He’s plotting his exit. He’s been at this for 13 years and will turn 45 in 3 years. His plan is to build Heroic Hollywood up enough that he’ll be able to sell it and quit the beat. “You can’t be Batman forever,” he says. “You can’t be Spider-Man forever. You can’t play Superman forever. And you can’t write about superhero movies forever.”