In relaying Tuesday’s news about Variety’s new editors-in-chief, and move to drop their daily edition, Deadline Hollywood’s Nikki Finke directed criticism toward her company’s owner, Jay Penske, who she said lied to her — while also questioning whether the “failing trade” can be saved.
For starters: Penske, CEO of Penske Media Corporation, purchased Variety last year. Today, we learned he named Claudia Eller, Cynthia Littleton, and Andrew Wallenstein as the three editors-in-chief, overseeing coverage of television, digital content, and film respectively. Variety will also be moving to a once-a-week edition.
Penske (who also owns Deadline Hollywood), Finke said, “tried to hire 5 to 6 other editors-in-chief for Variety but had no luck.” Hitting Variety’s “disastrous paywall” and general struggle, she then turned to the rumor mill:
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.)
Finke went on to offer some details about Eller’s time at the LA Times before moving on to the gloomy forecast of the aforementioned “failing trade.” As a whole, she concluded, “editorial morale at the entertainment trade is at its lowest ebb” — and Penske’s “idea is to transform Variety into a thumb-sucking weekly about the entertainment business.”
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