As the saying goes: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Variety was up to its old tricks this week even under new ownership. Immediately after the announcement came out that Roger Ebert had died on Thursday, Variety “was calling/emailing around Hollywood for people to take out creepy obit ads for him,” an exec at one studio which was approached tells me. That is Variety’s long-time but in-bad-taste revenue-raising practice that I hoped would have disappeared under Jay Penske (who also owns Deadline) and Third Point, a hedge fund founded by mega-investor Daniel S. Loeb.

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