So the game du jour at the studios is speculating who the next Hollywood Reporter editor will be. I’ve already heard from several Hollywood journalists logo_hollywood-reporter.gifwondering if they should apply for the job there. So clearly it’s still a desirable gig, even if an uphill one. I’m told the mood at THR is ”horrible” right now. “Everybody feels like the sky is falling,” one source told me today. The staff is especially sad at losing Cynthia Littleton, whose still at the Reporter through today. conniff.jpgYes, amazingly, THR didn’t ask her to clear out her desk right away. In fact, I heard publisher John Kilcullen was trying to negotiate with her to stay on longer. Among the staff, “the feeling is that the last vestige of humanity leaves with her,” one insider told me. As for who might replace Littleton, there’s speculation it might be Billboard editor Tamara Conniff. (Because Kilcullen loves her. And he’s her boss since he’s publisher of both Billboard and the Reporter.) Here’s the 411 on her: Born into a show business family, Conniff didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of her bandleader father, Ray Conniff. Though trained as a classical pianist, she went into journalism, and in 2004 she became the first female and youngest-ever executive editor at Billboard. “Touring with her dad as a kid had helped Conniff understand the intricacies of the business. She even used to step on stage to sing one of the Swiss-German folk songs, complete with yodels,” one news report gushes. The former Hollywood Reporter music editor led the first major redesign of Billboard since the 1960s, maps digital strategy for the music industry bible, and is the pub’s representative at its conferences and events. According to news reports, she helped Billboard newsstand sales jump 10% in 2005, its ad pages climb 22%, its conference registrations rise 76%. Crain’s New York Business last year named her an “Under-40 Star.” Kilcullen called her ”a strong, vibrant face for the brand.” But she’s not popular with THR staff, and Hollywood types are telling me it would be a poor choice. But, judging from this photo (above), she likes to kick butt.

Meanwhile, it’s true: last Thursday, the Reporter‘s online guru and executive editor Glenn Abel left the Reporter of his own accord after 15 years there.

Also, TV critic and entertainment/media columnist Ray Richmond, who’s on retainer to the Reporter, didn’t like my line that “these latest personnel moves announce to the entertainment industry what is the death rattle of the Hollywood Reporter despite a long and legendary history.” Instead, he blogs: “The rumors of our demise? Greatly exaggerated. We’re the Rocky Balboa of trade journalism! (But not the last Rocky — like, Rocky III say.)” Nor did he appreciate my comment that the trades aren’t real journalism. He writes: “Yes, we are journalism — not in the most traditional sense, but far more so than the trades used to be and the overwhelming majority of TV news remains.” Finally, he got into the spirit of my modest proposal suggesting that THR battle Variety by becoming even more Industry friendly. (I loved his sucking-up examples: Ray can fall back onto a career at PMK!) ray-richmond.jpgLook, I’m genuinely glad he’s sticking up for THR. I hate it when journalists are out of work, so I by no means want to see the Reporter go under. I love Richmond’s spirit and embrace his criticism, which was on point and professional. He’s right to be crotchety that I made a dig at the trades’ brand of journalism, but I’ve been consistent on that point. I just have read too many stories that perpetuate showbiz spin and lies in both the Reporter and Variety.

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.

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