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Variety Editorial Firings To Come In March

By | Thursday January 24, 2013 @ 5:14pm PST

EXCLUSIVE: Variety Media‘s Chairman/CEO Jay Penske is planning editorial firings at the top-heavy trade in March. He also is overseeing a redesign of Variety’s website for February March. Penske laid off between 20 and 25 employees last November 15th from the circulation, database and conference departments – but not editorial. Variety had about 120 staffers before Penske took over. I hear editorial morale at the struggling entertainment trade is at a low ebb and anxiety is running high. “There is complete editorial disorganization from the top down,” a source complained. “No one knows if Variety is supposed to be a breaking news organization, an analytical publication, or some as yet undetermined hybrid. Tim Gray keeps pontificating to editorial that things are going to change and Variety will go in a new direction. But nobody knows what that means. They’re totally demoralized.” For instance, Penske ‘conceived’ — Variety’s term, not mine — of a special report to replace last Friday’s regular issue. It was an 80-page perfect bound ’Violence & Entertainment’ examination illustrated with a blood-dripping bullet hole on its cover. It arrived to subscribers without fanfare. And it generated no buzz inside Hollywood, indicating that Variety is still not a must read. (A week later, the special report is not even being promoted on’s home page.) Penske announced on October 9th that he bought the once $200 million-valued trade, reportedly for the fire-sale price of $25 million after my PMC-owned Deadline Hollywood pretty much put it out of business. Financing for the Variety deal was provided by Third … Read More »

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Variety For Sale! (Because It Can’t Compete With Deadline Hollywood)

I don’t want to start any rumors that Deadline Hollywood is going to buy Variety. But I am curious what the square footage is of Variety President Neil Stiles’ office… That Reed Business Information today announced it is beginning a process to sell Variety doesn’t come as a surprise to me. In fact, for the past year, I’ve been predicting it would go on the block in April 2012 based on my sources’ accurate information. (They told me Reed was merely waiting until the end of Oscar season and that “For Your Consideration’ ad revenue.) This follows the divestment by RBI of its other U.S. business magazines over the past three years. The last time Variety was put up for sale was when parent company Reed Elsevier trie to auction its b-to-b publishing unit RBI as a whole in February 2008 but took it off the block late that year citing the down global markets. But the price tag was unrealistically high. And now Variety is worth far less.

Reed can see that Variety’s best days are behind it: that awards advertising has slumped, that its paywall isn’t the panacea now that its print edition is too thin and its online posting not a priority, and that its showbiz reporting is increasingly inaccurate. (Just today, Variety wrongly claimed that The Hunger Games‘ midnight shows grossed $25M when the real number was $19.75M.) Why, just the other month, I was having a conversation with Neil Stiles where he admitted to me that a recent survey conducted by Variety showed that Deadline was the most consumed online trade by the entertainment industry: way more than Variety, and way way more than The Hollywood Reporter. (Stiles also confirmed to me he’s working without a contract but denies rumors that he’s on the way out and about to retire to his new home in Florida.) Meanwhile, other media outlets keep reporting that investor Guggenheim Partners wants to sell The Hollywood Reporter Read More »

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Billboard Exodus As More Turmoil Troubles Prometheus Global Media

By | Friday March 9, 2012 @ 12:28pm PST

Prometheus Global Media is the beleaguered media company that owns The Hollywood Reporter and Adweek jettisoned Backstage and the Hollywood Creative Directory. I was tipped this morning that there’s a Billboard exodus underway: popular publisher Lisa Ryan Howard was pushed out and high-profile Billboard editor-in-chief Danyel Smith and Billboard deputy editor Lou Hau have resigned. More staff are expected to follow. “Morale is in the toilet because the level of dysfunction there and inside Prometheus is off the scale,” an insider tells me. ”Lisa was the bright spot in people’s day. She buffered the staff from the dsyfunction.” But now she’s gone. I also hear that Prometheus is stopping annual reviews of employees so it can eliminate 2% raises. Billboard also just cancelled its Billboard Pro project aimed at artists, I’m told. ’The investment in it was insufficient to start with,” my source says. “Prometheus keeps trying at Billboard to cut its way to prosperity so it can pay its own way.” Prometheus, initially entitled e5 Global Media, made an 8-title acquisition from The Nielsen Company in 2009 and was formed jointly by private equity partner Pluribus Capital Management co-founder Jimmy Finkelstein and financial services firm Guggenheim Partners’ Todd Boehly who is managing partner in the Office Of The CEO. The pair are now running Prometheus after the CEO they hired amid considerable hype, Richard Beckman, was sidelined to events planning. As a result, Finkelstein, who is chairman of Prometheus, now oversees daily management. Neither Boehly nor Finkelstein have any entertainment media experience. Aother Prometheus publication, Adweek, suffered … Read More »

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