Media people

Claudia Eller: Leaving LAT 'most difficult decision' *

claudia_eller-variety.jpgNice farewell note to the Los Angeles Times newsroom this afternoon from Claudia Eller, the entertainment news editor and veteran of the Hollywood scoop wars who was announced today as one of three new co-editors who will run Variety. She opens with praise for her current editor, John Corrigan, the assistant managing editor for arts and entertainment. Eller confirms in the email that there was a counteroffer from the Times editors, hoping to get her to stay. Kind of difficult to imagine a note this gracious from, say, Nikki Finke, eh? Eller was a mainstay of LA Times competitiveness on the Hollywood beat for a long time.

From: Eller, Claudia
Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 12:09 PM
To: yyeditall
Subject: Re: My bittersweet goodbye

Dear cherished colleagues:

Leaving the L.A. Times was by far the most difficult decision of my long career as an entertainment journalist. The Times has been my home away from home for the past 20 years and everyone who knows me knows I’m a serial nester. I’ve virtually grown up here surrounded by some of the brightest journalists in the world. It is painful to leave behind all the wonderful friends I have worked, cried and laughed with over the years. You all know who you are. This is a great loss for me.

But when Jay Penske approached me and outlined his strategic and creative vision for redefining Variety in this ever-evolving media landscape, I simply could not pass up the compelling challenge and opportunity as one of three newly named Editors-In-Chief to help revitalize the greatest brand in entertainment news.

At the same time, I owe a special thanks and debt of gratitude to my current boss, John Corrigan, who believed in me and guided me through the best and worst of times. He has been an inspirational leader of the Arts & Entertainment team. With passion and integrity, he has infused the newsroom with fresh ideas, a keen news sense and a competitive spirit. I will miss his unflinching support of me and his commitment to making this a better place.

I also have the utmost respect and admiration for Calendar editor Rich Nordwind, a saint among saints and my trusted colleague through it all. Our editorial assistant Elena Villanueva, you will always be my soul sister. A special shout out to the Company Town team. You are awesome. And, my heavy, broken heart goes out to my original CoTown editor, mentor and beloved friend Mark Saylor, whose untimely death last Friday has shaken me and my family to the core.

A-1 Kingpin Joe Eckdahl, I will always remember that remarkable night when we were working very late on a breaking Hollywood strike story and you shouted out the words I had only ever heard in the movies: “Stop the Presses!”

Let me express my deepest appreciation to the brilliant team of copy editors—Judy, Ruthanne, Anne and the rest of the cool gang for always cleaning up our copy (and on several occasions saving our asses from stupid errors). The dynamic team of designers—I love you Wesley Bausmith—and our awesome Calendar photography staff—led by Hal and Cindy—I want to thank you for always making our pages look stupendous. All of you have treated me with such kindness and grace.

The grand editorial leaders of this great publication, Davan Maharaj and Marc Duvoisin, are class acts. They reached out to me with a very generous counteroffer, supported by Eddy Hartenstein and Kathy Thomson. I was so appreciative that they reached out to me and ultimately blessed my decision and wished me their sincerest congratulations.

And, finally, I want to express how much I will miss the unsung heroes of The Times: the adorable cooks in the cafeteria who make awesome chicken tacos and turkey burgers and never put avocados on my sandwiches; and the handsome security guards in the Spring Street lobby who greet me by name and with big smiles every morning and evening that I walk through those heavy glass doors at 145 S. Spring Street.

As you can tell, leaving here is highly emotional for me and represents a great loss. But I will always be grateful for the lifelong friends (former LAT comrades Lorenza Munoz and Nora Zamichow, among them), the many lessons I’ve learned and the cherished memories that I take with me to this new, scary and thrilling adventure on which I am about to embark.

With much love and gratitude,

The news earlier today was that Variety will stop publishing daily, and that Eller will become a co-editor with internal promotions Cynthia Littleton and Andrew Wallenstein. Here's my post on Mark Saylor's passing.

* Added: Corrigan's note to the newsroom:

For 20 years, Claudia Eller has been a pillar of Los Angeles Times entertainment coverage.

As a reporter covering Hollywood, she was known, respected and feared for her tenacity, her deep file of sources and unflagging pursuit of the untold story. The sight, and sound, of Claudia cross-examining a publicist, talent rep or studio exec on the phone was one of the glories of our newsroom. She willed herself to countless scoops.

As an editor, she informed countless more stories with her unmatched knowledge of the film industy. Her enthusiasm for breaking news, and her knack for spotting trends, has been our not-so-secret weapon in the increasingly competitive world of entertainment news.

So it is with the heaviest of hearts that I must relay the news that Claudia is leaving us. She has accepted a position at Variety which she believes will offer her an exciting new challenge.

We went to great lengths to persuade her to stay. Alas, Claudia has made up her mind.
We wish her the best in her new job, and we thank her for tremendous work over the past two decades.

John Corrigan

Arts & Entertainment Editor

Los Angeles Times

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