That long-in-the-works article about MGM looks like David Halbfinger’s major swan song on the Hollywood beat. I’m told that The New York Times‘ movie culture editor Lorne Manly was out here last week to finalize Halbfinger’s exit from the Los Angeles bureau. NYC sources say Halbfinger will be going to the Metro Desk to report politics. Generally, the feeling is that Halbfinger “never got his footing” covering the movie beat and devoted too much of his time to the Pellicano scandal (with freelancer Allison Hope Weiner). But that dead-ended when all the Hollywood bigwigs escaped prosecution. Also, like Sharon Waxman before him who is also gone, Halbfinger clashed repeatedly with the NYT‘s veteran showbiz reporter Michael Cieply (who used to have Manly’s editing job). And since Cieply and Manly are joined at the hip… Well, bye-bye David, who I hear is thrilled to return to covering politicians instead of moguls. Besides, with the regular input of David Carr and year-old addition of Brooks Barnes, there were probably too many people at the paper covering Hollywood films, which in the old days used to be adequately reported by a lone correspondent. NYT editors may agree: the word to me is that the newspaper hasn’t made up its mine to replace Halbfinger, so don’t deluge the editors with those resumes yet. Meanwhile, I bet Brad Grey, who was ignominiously splashed all over the NYT pages during Halbfinger’s Pellicano fixation, is a happy man today.

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

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