The new guy for the NYT

The New York Observer phones up David Halbfinger for a chat about his new job sharing the Hollywood beat for the New York Times with Sharon Waxman.

"Itís a great beat. Itís hugely important in the culture. I love movies," said Mr. Halbfinger, on the phone from Los Angeles. "As much as people warned me about this town, I think I actually like this kind of personóthe movie person."

Mr. Halbfinger has previously served as the paperís Atlanta bureau chief, covering eight Southern states, and more recently went on the campaign trail with John Kerry, where he said he traveled exhaustively and was "away from [his] new wife for 14 months straight."

"If you go from covering a Presidential campaign, there arenít a lot of things that are going to seem as important," said Mr.Halbfinger. "Given how much time on the Presidential campaign I was spending reading about Michael Moore and Mel Gibson, and Fahrenheit and Passion and everything that was coming out of Hollywood, itís kind of ground zero in terms of writing about America."

Halbfinger read his predecessor Bernard Weibraub's farewell piece in the NYT Magazine with great interest.

"I guess I got a glimpse through his eyes of what it was like, and I thought it was human and charming, and I suppose there are aspects to it that could be somewhat cautionary," said Mr. Halbfinger. "I was grateful that he wrote it, and I was grateful to read it, and it was perfect timing Ö. It was like, ĎHello, this is what Iím getting into!"....

"Iím not planning to be hated," said Mr. Halbfinger. "On the other hand, do I need to be loved by everybody? No. I get plenty of love at home."

Women's Wear Daily reports, by the way, that the NYT is weighing giving the culture editor job to one of two deputies to the incumbent Jonathan Landman: Sam Sifton or Jim Schachter, a former editor and reporter at the L.A. Times. (Via Romenesko)

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