LAT taps new entertainment biz honcho

With Joel Sappell leaving the Business section to run, the Times needed a new editor to oversee coverage of the business side of studios and entertainment. That person is Amy Wallace, who returned to the paper last year from a writing spot at Los Angeles magazine to be the deputy on the Hollywood pod. She gets the newly coined title of Senior Editor for Entertainment and Technology, directing Claudia Eller, Sallie Hofmeister and the other showbiz industry reporters. Jim Bates will be her deputy for Hollywood (as well as the online columnist for the new web feature The Envelope.) Aaron Curtiss gets the deputy for technology slot. Yesterday's memo from Business Editor Russ Stanton follows:

From: Russ Stanton, Business Editor

As the lines between entertainment and technology continue to disappear, “convergence” is no longer a theoretical idea but a crucial business strategy. Google has become the world’s most valuable media company and is teaming with Comcast to try to buy a stake in America Online. Disney is providing Apple Computer with hit ABC shows that are downloadable on iTunes. Cable TV companies are selling phone service, and vice versa.

As these industries continue to meld, we are restructuring our staff to better leverage our considerable expertise in these key areas by combining our entertainment and technology staffs.

Amy Wallace, who has served as deputy entertainment editor since returning to the paper last year, will head the combined forces as Senior Editor for Entertainment and Technology. Aaron Curtiss becomes deputy editor, technology, and Jim Bates becomes deputy editor, entertainment. In addition, in recognition of her terrific work over the past year, Amy takes on the title of Deputy Business Editor, joining Davan Maharaj and Henry Fuhrmann at that level.

Amy rejoined The Times in 2004 after four years as a senior writer at Los Angeles
Magazine. There, she wrote a revealing profile of Peter Bart, editor in chief of Daily Variety, that was a finalist for a National Magazine Award and a Gerald Loeb Award. Before that, Amy was a staff writer here for 11 years, covering state politics, higher education and the entertainment industry. She also has been a prolific freelancer, her work having appeared in the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Esquire, The Nation, The New York Times Magazine, Details, Elle and other national publications.

Aaron, who has overseen our technology coverage since 2002, joined The Times in 1988 as an intern and has covered cops, courts, local government and urban planning and ran the editorial pages in the Valley Edition. He has been the paper’s video-game columnist and worked on the business side before returning to launch the weekly Tech Times section. An MBA, Aaron harbors a secret passion for the movie business, having helped develop the financing, distribution and marketing plans for an independent Australian film as part of his graduate studies at UCLA.

Jim joined the Valley Edition as a business reporter in 1985 and moved downtown four years later to cover banking and the S&L crisis. Jim joined the entertainment staff in 1992 and since becoming an assistant business editor last year has excelled as both player and coach. Long known as the king of the clever lead, Jim also is the paper’s historian of Tinseltown; among his most memorable clips are obituaries of two of the industry’s biggest names, Marvin Davis and Lew Wasserman. Beginning this week, Jim also will write a weekly online column for The Envelope, a new Times website devoted to Hollywood's awards season.

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