The other shoe fell today in the evolution of Hollywood trade Variety under new owner Jay Penske. The paper announced today it will stop publishing daily on March 18, and will put out a weekly print edition on Tuesdays. Variety will also drop its online pay wall. The three new co-editors include Claudia Eller, who will come over from the LA Times, plus Cynthia Littleton and Andrew Wallenstein. Current editor Tim Gray will move over into special projects. From Variety:
"Internally, we've been referring to the paywall dropping as 'the end of an error,'" said Penske. "It was an interesting experiment that didn't work. We look forward to welcoming back longtime Variety readers when the paywall drops March 1."
The new print edition of Variety debuts March 26, and will be published every Tuesday throughout the year. There will also be an expanded schedule of special editions covering everything from awards season to topical issues confronting the industry, such as January's stand-alone issue examining violence in entertainment.
"We remain committed to a print edition of Variety and are excited that it will expand in size and scope of coverage," said [publisher Michelle] Sobrino, "The feedback we got from the industry on our recent ultimate awards season guide and violence and entertainment issue tells us we're headed in the right direction. We're excited to deliver dozens of special issues to readers throughout the year." The current daily print edition of Variety will make its final appearance on March 18. Variety originated as a New York-based weekly publication in 1905, expanding to a Hollywood-based daily edition in 1933.
"When PMC purchased Variety last year, we committed to the digital evolution of this great brand," said Penske. "We're accelerating this strategy by heavily investing in our editorial staff, technology, video production and responsive design -- all with the goal of providing the best experience for our dedicated readers. Having three editors-in-chief -- Claudia, Cynthia and Andrew, each renowned for their coverage of film, television and digital/new media, respectively -- is an innovative approach to address the quickly changing media landscape. It is designed to foster collaboration in our coverage of these three core areas of entertainment. We're also very privileged to have longtime editor Tim Gray, with more than three decades at Variety, remain with us as we expand our coverage of the global entertainment business."
Penske's other Hollywood trade outlet is Deadline.com. Its founder and editor Nikki Finke had this to say about the moves:
Variety announced today that it needs no less than 3 editors-in-chief to try to save the beleaguered trade which is moving to a once-a-week print edition....The fact is that the new owner, Variety Media‘s Chairman/CEO Jay Penske (whose Penske Media Corp also owns Deadline Hollywood) tried to hire 5 to 6 other editors-in-chief for Variety but had no luck.
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. (Penske lied to me. 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 the newspaper being sold finally propelled her to make a move.
Finke promises more to come.
* Well for one thing: She no longer accuses the boss of lying to her.