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Huffington invites celeb friends to join blog

Larry David, Rob Reiner, John Cusack to participate
/ Source: The Associated Press

Political commentator Arianna Huffington will launch a news and opinion Web site next month including blogs written by more than 200 celebrities and leaders such as retired journalist Walter Cronkite, writer David Mamet and billionaire Barry Diller, CEO of IAC InterActive Corp.

“The two most interesting things happening online are the news and the blogosphere and what we’re doing here is bringing them together,” Huffington, a one-time candidate for California governor, told The Associated Press Monday.

One feature of the site, called The Huffington Post, will be breaking news drawn from Huffington’s network of sources.

Huffington said more than 250 people have accepted her invitation to write blogs — or personal journals posted on her new Web site — on a variety of topics from politics to religion, sports, architecture and entertainment.

She acknowledged that the participants already have access to newspaper opinion pages and other forums to air their thoughts in essay form. But they were attracted to a format where “a zippy one-off is enough to spark a flurry of impassioned replies.

“People are always drawn to any conversation that is passionate and authentic and unfiltered,” Huffington said.

The site will not edit or censor opinions. Participants will include “Seinfeld” creator Larry David, Viacom Inc. co-president Tom Freston, former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart, DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen, director Rob Reiner, cable talk show host Bill Maher and actor John Cusack.

“It will be people’s voices, including people’s spelling mistakes and idiosyncratic punctuation,” Huffington said. “Authenticity always draws people.”

Huffington is starting the venture with Ken Lerer, former executive vice president of AOL Time Warner. The site, which launches May 9, will sell advertising. The venture has also signed a deal with Tribune Media Services to syndicate some of the content to newspapers and their Web sites.