UPDATE MAY 8: Variety Media today added Reed Elsevier and Reed Business Information to its kickbacks and fraud case against branding company Beverly Hills Media Group. “Plaintiff has suffered damages in an amount to be proven at trial, which amount includes the principal sum of $10 million,” said the action (read it here) for breach of contract and declaratory relief. Variety Media says in its filing that Reed did not properly inform them of any supposed agreement with BHMG when the company was looking into and eventually did purchase the trade publication last year. The company has included former Daily Variety printers California Offset Printers in the suit too. Variety Media is also seeking a judicial declaration that Reed are obligated to “defend and indemnify” Variety Media from all losses, liabilities and claims that may come from BHMG and the ”Beverly Hills Entertainment Week” operating agreement between them and the trade. The 14-page complaint against the former owners of the Hollywood trade was filed in the Supreme Court of New York on Wednesday.
PREVIOUSLY APRIL 30: Variety Media today submitted a 14-page complaint (read it here) of fraud and six other claims against Beverly Hills Media Group for an alleged “blatant fraud and scheme involving illegal kickbacks and stolen revenues it recently uncovered being perpetuated” by defendants Beverly Hills Media Group. The LA Superior Court dispute is over a so-called ”Beverly Hills Entertainment Week” that never happened though $500,000 in sponsorship money was raised. Variety Media claims it had to “accommodate” the sponsor with “alternative sponsorship opportunities and activations at its sole cost and expense.” Variety Media seeks damages and declaratory relief against BHMG. Reference is made to an executive officer of Variety Inc. who is no longer with the company and is not named as a defendant in the complaint but was involved in the March 2012 operating agreement with BHMG. PMC, Deadline’s corporate parent, purchased Variety in October 2012 from Reed Business Information and now Variety Media, owned by Jay Penske, runs the trade publication. In a 71-page claim (read it here) of its own, also filed in LA Superior Court today, BHMG claims breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract against Variety Media. (Matthew D. Hinks of LA firm Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell is representing Variety Media. Steven Morris and Jonathan M. Deer of Beverly Hills firm Tuner Aubert & Friedman are representing BHMG.)
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 … Read More »
UPDATE: Variety debuts its new weekly magazine on Tuesday with a cover story on newly installed Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara after unveiling its new website earlier. By the way, various Deadline staffers including Nikki Finke and Mike Fleming Jr have been asked to write for the … Read More »
Jay Penske’s PMC, the parent company of Deadline Hollywood as well as the new owner of Variety, has finalized a deal to put the two news organizations in one headquarters, securing 50% of the space in the … Read More »
UPDATE: Variety announced today that it needs no fewer than 3 editors-in-chief to try to save the beleaguered trade which is moving to a once-a-week print edition instead of a daily. Two of the newly named chiefs are from inside, Cynthia Littleton and Andrew Wallenstein, and one is from outside, Claudia Eller from the Los Angeles Times who used to work at Variety. They’ll oversee coverage of television, digital content, and film respectively. Tim Gray wasn’t fired as expected (and should have been) but instead was demoted to overseeing international coverage and unspecified “other special projects” after presiding over Variety‘s humiliating loss of readership and influence and advertising. (2ND UPDATE: The new owner, Variety Media‘s Chairman/CEO Jay Penske whose Penske Media Corp also owns my Deadline Hollywood, says he’s trying to hire 5 to 6 other editors for Variety to expand its editorial staff.) Additionally, Variety announced that its disastrous paywall is coming down March 1st when a very generic redesign debuts. “Internally, we’ve been referring to the paywall dropping as ‘the end of an error,’” Penske said in Variety‘s announcement. The new print edition of Variety debuts March 26 to be published every Tuesday throughout the year. There also will be an expanded schedule of special editions. The daily print edition of Variety will limp to its final appearance on March 18.
Rumors that Eller was heading to Variety began surfacing in January. As recently as February 9th, I asked Penske and Eller to respond to them as soon as Eller began telling Hollywood openly that she was ”seriously considering” Penske’s job offer. (2ND UPDATE: Penske says he didn’t know if she would take the job. Eller declined to comment.) This is a return ‘home’ of sorts for Eller since she worked as a columnist for Daily Variety until jumping to the LA Times in 1993. But it also is a major humiliation for LAT Assistant Managing Editor and entertainment biz czar John Corrigan who just this December promoted Eller to entertainment news editor and praised in the inhouse memo that “few people care as much about breaking news as Claudia Eller”. In fact, Eller quickly became disenchanted with Corrigan as her boss because he knows very little about Hollywood and never misses a chance to demonstrate it to the staff or the entertainment community at large. That said, Eller had been under pressure by the newspaper for years to write full-time. Many of the LA Times‘ long list of present and former top editors felt Eller did not have the personality to be an editor, and it’s been well known that her relationships with much of her staff have been strained over the years and especially now. In the past, Eller successfully used various job offers to move up the LAT masthead. But the prospect of continuing under Corrigan and watching the newspaper’s sale finally propelled her to make a move. Read More »
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 … Read More »
The total number of this first round of layoffs is 20-25 people — none in editorial, we’re hearing. According to a memo going out to Variety staff, it’s part of new owner Jay Penske’s broader plan that will include “substantial … Read More »
Variety associate publisher Michelle Sobrino-Stearns has been appointed publisher, the first major move at the Hollywood trade publication since Deadline parent company Penkse Media Corp acquired it earlier this month. … Read More »
One day after PMC’s acquisition of the venerable showbiz publication was formally announced, new owner Jay Penske visited Variety’s offices on Wilshire Blvd to talk about its future. The town hall started at 4:30 PM in front of about 80 staffers … Read More »
It’s scheduled at 4 PM so don’t be surprised if phones go unanswered.
I’ve thought a lot about the possibility this Variety-PMC deal would close and I’m sure my former colleagues and the newer staff there will be understandably apprehensive. This is a bit jarring for me. I spent 20 years writing columns … Read More »
Related: Mike Fleming On Variety’s Purchase By PMC
BREAKING: Penske Media Corporation has completed the acquisition of Variety from Reed Elsevier. The deal that just closed puts a venerable brand in Jay Penske’s digital publication stable that … Read More »
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 »
Is this a trend? First, Dana Harris left Variety for IndieWIRE earlier this week. Now Pam McClintock is departing Variety for The Hollywood Reporter. (But will its women’s magazine still be in business in another 6 months since THR‘s … Read More »
Leo Wolinsky was brought in after several rounds of layoffs at the trade, and now he was pushed out after less than a year in the job. Before coming to Variety, Wolinsky had spent many years in senior level … Read More »
Back on July 7th and again on July 8th, I was first to report that the notorious film financier David Bergstein “was being pushed aside” and would have no role in Miramax once it was purchased from Disney by construction magnate Ron Tutor and Santa Monica-based Colony Capital. … Read More »
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) today claims someone from the set of the upcoming Warner Bros film Speed Racer reported that one of the young chimpanzees used in the role of Chim Chim was beaten during filming. … Read More »
I’m told Joe Adalian is leaving Variety to become a columnist and deputy editor at TV Week. His focus will be analytical stories and bigger picture breaking news. He’ll also launch a blog for TVWeek.com during the summer. Adalian has covered … Read More »