Is TMZ Crumbling Under Harvey Levin?

It would be unrealistic to say the end is near for, the gossip website founded by Harvey Levin that Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic tirade put on the map, but all signs are pointing to trouble for the AOL-Telepictures celebrity venture.

Readership is down. So is revenue. Top staffers are leaving. The spin-off show TMZ has lost its buzz. And just saw overtake it for the No. 2 spot of most-visited celebrity websites (Yahoo’s OMG is No. 1, thanks to all of the search giant’s traffic dumping).

Oh, and that’s on top of growing backlash within the gossip industry, as competing mainstream tabloid outlets, bloggers, and (we suspect, if traffic levels are any indication) readers are growing increasingly disgusted for what qualifies as “content” on the site.

Has TMZ already hit its peak – and started snowballing toward implosion? From numerous conversations with TMZ insiders, Levin confidantes, industry players, and fellow bloggers, the answer is a resounding “yes.”