Here are reasons to bypass Graydon Carter’s dumbass Oscar party in West Hollywood on Sunday: sources are telling cityfile.com that Vanity Fair reserved an entire spa during Oscar week just so that advertisers could have access to free treatments. Snarks the blog: “Does it make sense for Si Newhouse to be paying for facials when Condé Nast is closing down magazines and laying off staff? Not really. Then again, it can’t be any worse than Newhouse continuing to pour money into Portfolio.” As for VF‘s Oscar party, Graydon may be hyping it as more “intimate” than in years past, but cityfile.com discovered that VF told the City of West Hollywood in an official “special event” permit that it’s expecting a clusterfuck of 1,000 guests at the downscale Sunset Tower Hotel. What a nasty traffic nightmare awaits you.
Variety has a new publisher, Brian Gott, tapped by Variety Group president Neil Stiles who relinquishes the publisher title to “focus more of my attention on longer-term planning”. The announcement says Gott in his new role will handle day-to-day management of such areas as licensing, strategic partnerships, brand extension, and new product development. He was most recently VP-associate publisher. Linda Buckley-Bruno has been upped to publishing director for the Variety Group. She’ll run global sales operations for Daily Variety, weekly Variety and Variety.com, in addition to the Home Entertainment Group for parent company Reed Business.
This is a sad “toldja”. Neil Stiles is still working through telling people. But I’m told my number of 30 was “in the ball park and included some corporate and central resources who work across the division”. Also, Stiles is still reviewing what to do with Weekly Variety. He’s sure it will change both in terms of publishing date and content as it needs updating, but there’s no decision yet made.
Variety Staff Layoffs Coming This Week (Plus, Bart vs DeBalko Feud Brewing; Is B&C’s Grossman Going To Replace Bart?); B&C Downsizing To Standard Magazine
I first received word that chief marketing officer Madelyn Hammond left Variety on Friday. This was her second go-round at the trade after being associate publisher and rejoining in December 2007. “I can’t believe they let her get away. This is the kind of short sighted thinking that can sink businesses,” a major studio exec emailed me. Now the company-wide cost cutting at Reed Business (after it couldn’t sell itself) hits Variety even harder this week, and perhaps as soon as Monday. I’m told there’ll be layoffs in both the business and editorial sides. I can’t confirm the number, but one tipster tells me as many as 30, which sounds enormous. So be gentle when you speak to people there tomorrow.
(I am curious what happens to film critic John Anderson after he scandalously punched out publicist Jeff Dowd while covering Dirt! The Movie! for Variety at Sundance. It’s despicable that the trade’s lapdog reporters defended Anderson’s violent behavior just because he was flacked. More so if Variety keeps using him.)
Meanwhile, Peter Bart is telling pals that it’s likely all over for Weekly Variety as a stand-alone publication. I’d heard this a while back, but Variety Group prez and publisher Neil Stiles keeps denying he’s made a decision yet.
There’s an interesting backstory behind the Variety cuts. I’ve confirmed that Jeff DeBalko, …
How absurd has Variety‘s Industry cheerleading become? Its headline says “Golden Globes Solid In Ratings” … yet goes on to report this year’s show “repped the lowest scores for a regular ceremony since NBC began airing it in 1996″. UPDATE: After I posted this, Variety.com changed its headline to “Globes Still Struggling In Ratings Race”.
UPDATE: Lots of insiders have been telling me all week that Eric Mika is out as publisher of The Hollywood Reporter. Or is that just wishful thinking? (Remember, this guy was once described to me as “a prick with all the people skills of a feral pig”.) The word is he’ll be replaced by THR‘s fellow Variety emigre Rose Einstein, and Mica may get shifted by Nielsen to some job in England. Mika’s office would not confirm or deny. By my count, this would be the 5th THR publisher since 2006. Anyway, whoever’s in the job will most likely preside over an online-only trade before too long.
The rumors about Sam Zell’s Tribune Co about to file for bankruptcy, maybe as soon as this week, are really heating up in the financial press. (See WSJ.com) Yet more angst for the TV stations, Los Angeles Times and other newspapers. Ugh.
My sympathies go out to all who are losing their jobs. I now have been given names from today’s tragic bloodletting of The Hollywood Reporter‘s staff. The trade has not only been thin, but only publishing digital version 19 days this holiday season. “It’s really bad. They’ve moved beyond cutting bone to shaving off gristle. I’ll be surprised if the print publication makes it all the way through 2009,” an insider tells me. Names I’m hearing include film writers Leslie Simmons, Carolyn Giardina, Gregg Goldstein, plus lead TV critic Barry Garron and TV reporter Kimberly Nordyke, also special issues editor Randee Dawn Cohen out of New York and managing editor Harley Lond and international department editor Hy Hollinger, plus Dan Evans, Lesley Goldberg, Michelle Belaski, James Gonzalez.
Meanwhile, Variety.com editor Dana Harris announced this morning that the ”Stylephile” blog is stopping and its newsletter publishing its final column on November 21st. It attempted to bring news of trends but was really just an excuse to attract high end advertising. Meanwhile, Variety may be about to fold Weekly Variety into Friday’s Daily Variety. And the trade recently moved into refurbished office space. Also, Variety has shut its D.C. bureau and laid off Bill Triplett. With THR‘s bureau gone, neither trade is keeping full-time track of Hollywood/Washington.
Few in Hollywood thought Vanity Fair would dare restart its annual Oscar party in this lousy economy after cancelling it last time around because of the writers strike. (We could hope, right?) But Graydon Carter just announced: ”Vanity Fair will hold its annual Oscar Night party at the Sunset Tower Hotel on February 22, 2009. The party will be a much more intimate affair than in years past; we’re going to scale back the guest list considerably. We’ll celebrate Hollywood’s big night the way we did when we first threw the party 15 years ago — it will be a cozier, more understated event. And one with familiar décor — given the current economy, and our dedication to the green movement, we will be recycling many of the elements of years past. We also look forward to working with Jeff Klein, who owns the Sunset Tower (and is my partner in another venture), in making next year’s Oscar party a memorable one.” Oh, now I get it: Graydon got an insider’s deal. Carter, the co-owner of NYC’s Waverly Inn, recently bought the lease of East 54th Street’s Monkey Bar from the Glazier Group with two partners including hotelier Klein, who helped out VF with a barebones price to replace defunct Morton’s as the VF party venue. The Sunset Tower used to be the old St. James Club, then the unchic Argyle, and now its reputation consists mostly of Page Six-publicized fights with the likes of Britney Spears and Sean …
James Schamus is really pissed at that Hollywood Reporter story carried by Reuters yesterday on the eve of the San Francisco premiere dissing the marketing strategy to supposedly not focus on the political significance of Focus Features’ Milk. Here’s the complaint Schamus sent to the trade:
To the Editor:
Slow news day, eh? As the CEO of Focus Features, I read with interest your October 28 front page article “Politics? Focus won’t ‘Milk’ it,” about our marketing of director Gus Van Sant’s film about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to major public office in America. The author’s thesis is simple: because the film was not, like Brokeback Mountain, screened at festivals, Focus is somehow hiding the film and is thus avoiding openly presenting its political content. That’s a pretty serious charge, especially made by a reporter who did not call us to get his facts, so to speak, straight.
First of all, to the charge of “hiding” the film (for which, given its post-production schedule, we have only had finished prints at hand for a couple of weeks – a fact conveniently missed by your reporter), I can only say that I happen to be writing this while on my way to the airport for a flight to San Francisco, where we shall world-premiere the film tonight at the Castro Theatre, across the street from the storefront where Harvey began his political career. We determined early on that the only appropriate
I’ve made Elle magazine’s 25 most influential women in Hollywood list that’s due out any day for the November issue. Tonight, the mag holds its 15th annual “Women In Hollywood” celebration at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills: it’s always a great feminist event… And I’ve made Heeb magazine Fall issue’s Hundred list of “artists and actors, musicians and moviemakers, comedians and creative-types, foodies and fashionistas, innovators and intellectuals that have risen above the rest to become a hundred people that you need to know about.” (I’m no hypocrite: I still decry these lists as random and meaningless, even if they include me.)
I’m told that Variety president and publisher Neil Stiles is “realigning” the NYC sales office. Insides say he’s let three people go, which is half the sales force there. Plans are to replace one of the sales people and to hire a senior manager to improve what was described to me as “a growing lack of adult supervision”. These are the first real layoffs for Variety. In recent months, one junior sales job focusing on the consumer sector was eliminated, and some online people in the Los Angeles office were ”upgraded”, I’m told. All the sales staff report to associate publisher Brian Gott. So what about the sale of Variety‘s parent company Reed Business Information. I’m told it’s narrowed down to three bidders – Bain Capital, TPG and Strauss Zelnick, the former non-executive director of Reed Elsevier who teamed up with private equity group Apollo.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual “Leadership” issue features Ron Meyer tomorrow — and the usual sycophantic gushing about his 13 years as prez/COO of Universal Studios all the while equating the release of Bruce Almighty with curing cancer. Geez, I always thought the 63-year-old former marine was one of those rare moguls who didn’t need his ego fed like the rest of the Big Media weenies. But how pathetic to see that he, too, succumbed to such a nauseating suck-up. I hear Meyer initially turned down the issue only to reconsider when he was told THR would work its way down the list of other moguls with a still healthy advertising budget. Meanwhile, I’m told Meyer’s issue sold more ads than past honorees like Rupert Murdoch, Bob Iger and Jerry Bruckheimer. Shame on Meyer for subjecting all his friends (and enemies) to be held up for ransom by THR‘s rapacious ad salesmen. If only all the studio bosses stopped congratulating each other long enough to personally step in and solve the AMPTP-SAG stalemate and put this town back to work. In my estimation, Ron just lost his street cred. I hope he enjoys the tiara and sash and the traditional stroll through The Grill clutching a bouquet of long-stemmed roses.
I was surprised to see what the Los Angeles Times‘ Patrick Goldstein said in today’s New York Observer under the headline, “Make Nice, Nikki: L.A. Times Starts Hollywood Blog”:
“When asked what blogs he reads, the first one Mr. Goldstein cited by name was Deadline Hollywood Daily, by Nikki Finke. Ms. Finke’s site has become a go-to destination for Hollywood news and analysis, particularly during last year’s writers’ strike. Surely the L.A.Times wants a piece of her action. ‘I think we’re doing very different things,’ says Mr. Goldstein. ‘We’re not trying to get her traffic. There’s a giant other audience out there that hasn’t been reading her or other blogs that’s still available. I think there’s plenty of room.’ ‘Nikki is one of a kind,” Mr. Goldstein not quite compliments. ‘I think she does a great job. … She’s a very resourceful reporter. You will not get me to say anything bad about her. I have a lot of respect for her.’ “
Readers, I understand if you just threw up in your mouth a little.
Now I feel guilty for dissing Patrick during the writers strike (when he likened Patric Verrone to Yassir Arafat). Here’s what I told the NYO about Goldstein:
“Ms. Finke says that Mr. Goldstein is ‘one of the nicest people I’ve ever met,’ a quality that may not serve him well online. ‘That’s my problem with it: He’s way too nice.’ Ms. Finke wonders if Mr. Goldstein, whose Big Picture column has traditionally run once a week, is up …
I give TV and movie fans a lot of credit: when they get mad, they scare the crap out of the moguls. That’s happening at Lionsgate where the studio’s phones and email accounts are jammed with angry fans for the past week. They’re making a stink because new Lionsgate topper Joe Drake appears to be dumping all of ex-prez Peter Block’s movies. That includes Midnight Meat Train, the adaptation of the Barker short story that’s a fan fave. Supposedly the trailer tested higher than any film in Lionsgate history. But when Drake took over, he promptly bumped Midnight Meat Train from its May 16th release date. The result was that Rogue Pictures’ The Strangers (which was skedded two weekends later) had zero competition in the hard-R category. And guess who was exec producer of The Strangers? Joe Drake.
Then, the websites, Shock Til You Drop and Fangoria found out Lionsgate is planning only a 100 theater run on August 1st to merely fulfill the contractual obligation with Lakeshore Entertainment. The plan is to release the DVD immediately after. So fans are asking if Drake is such a dummy that he’d intentionally sink what to them is a sure-thing hit. And they want to know if the studio that was built on horror gross (both the gory and cash kinds) is going to bite the hand that’s fed it so well in favor of four Tyler Perry movies a year.
The result is a lot of anti-Lionsgate blogging in Horrorville by fans, by self-appointed horror flick experts, and also by Barker himself. ”I would passionately encourage everybody who cares about my work …
Vanity Fair magazine has created a Blogopticon which charts the tone and content of what it considers ”the most influential or amusing blogs” vying for the attention of the world’s billion-plus Web surfers. The sites are categorized along four attributes: “news” vs “opinion”, “earnest” vs “scurrilous”, and everything inbetween. I am very proud to say that VF included my Deadline Hollywood Daily and gave it high marks indeed: at the very top of “news” and in the “earnest” category.
(I’ve woven in more info…) Add TV Guide to the long list of publications undergoing massive downsizing. It’s yet another sign of the shifting fortunes of TV in general along with the downsizing in network pilots and upfronts etc. An insider tells me that editor Ian Birch and the two managing editors Lois Draegin and Steve Sonksy and several others, including the marketing department, got the word this morning they’d be exiting. I heard that Birch, an editor at Heat (that hot tabloid in the UK) didn’t even come in to the building today, while publisher Scott Crystal and a Human Resources henchwoman were “running around handing out the news that TV Guide is getting gutted today.” The timing couldn’t be worse: TV Guide is holding its annual high-profile “Sexiest Stars” party in LA on Thursday.
Crystal just told the staff they will have a new editor in place by end of next week. (Rumors are it may be Debra Birnbaum…)
News Corp dumped TV Guide last fall and the mag moved out of the News Corp building in December. I hear some stockholder meeting by current owner Macrovision is happening today. Word is Macrovision is looking for a new owner for the magazine and, if none is found, the print version could shutter. Supposedly, Macrovision only bought Gemstar-TV Guide for the digital technology. Word is the company will keep the technology and the on-line version of TV Guide and sell the print version which does retain 3.5 million subscribers. But I’m told the print edition had …
It’s getting down to the wire! I still need your votes if I’m to move from one of the 207 finalists into “The Time 100″ of the most influential people in the world. In return, I’ll shill for your lousy projects, ignore your overspending, and gush over your supposed genius. (Oh wait — Variety already does that… Instead, I’ll give you nothing but grief.)
Vote by moving the meter towards 100 and then clicking on “SUBMIT”. Because of your support 10 days ago, I rose as high as #25 — but now I’m only #70 behind those High School Musical punks. C’mon, they can’t give you daily doses of breaking Hollywood news injected with cynicism. So keep refreshing and keep voting for me all week…
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: It’s getting to be quite a horse race as the “Time 100″ finalists move up in the rankings race minute by minute. This hour, I’m still behind that wannabe, the Dalai Lama. Vote by moving the meter towards 100 and then clicking on “SUBMIT”. Keep refreshing and keep voting..
FRIDAY AM: I’m honored and a little verklempt today to see that I’m included among “The 2008 Time 100 Finalists” whose names just went up on the magazine’s website. So apparently the way this works is that you have to vote for me. OK, my campaign begins right now. Let’s see if I can make it from the 207 finalists into the actual “Time 100″. Understand, I’ve got pretty stiff competition: popes, kings, princes, heads of state, CEOs, rappers, superstar actors, politicians, Internet billionaires, as well as Judd Apatow and Rupert Murdoch and Patric Verrone. But do any of them give you the daily lowdown on the real business of Hollywood (or call Jeff Zucker a putz and Bob Shaye a prick)? Nah!
Here’s what Time has to say about me:
PRO: Her well-sourced “Deadline Hollywood Daily” blog became the unofficial switchboard of the writer’s strike: even the negotiators were reading it. And she may be the first industry blogger to get a shout-out on Letterman.
CON: Her blatantly pro-writer stance raised the perennial question about blogs: is “Deadline” journalism or advocacy?
And that’s before Time has seen my next posts about SAG vs The Moguls. Remember, I’m counting …