Monday, June 17, 2024

Variety and Hollywood Reporter Merger? Hot Times in Tinseltown Journalism


Big news in Hollywood today: Janice Min is stepping down from her $2 million a year salary at the Hollywood Reporter as editor in chief. She’s going, as we used to say, “to the 34th floor” to work on media projects for Eldridge Properties. That’s the company owned by former Guggenheim Partner Todd Boehly. He’s slimming down the budget of THR and Billboard (from which Janice is also Min-imizing) to sell them off.

My sources say Guggenheim pretty much gave Boehly the properties. THR is legendary for being a big money loser, maybe $20 mil a year. They spend a fortune on lavish photo shoots no one needs. Guggenheim wanted out and got out. Of their properties, Billboard has become the star of the package. Boehly, they say, will be lucky to get some coinage and escape unscathed.

So now what? THR and Variety each offer up a similar looking weekly glossy. THR’s is more Vanity Fair-wannabe as Min came from US Weekly and liked making a big splash. Variety’s weekly is more trade oriented, and sensible. Also Variety is now owned by deep pocketed Jay Penske. Who needs the headache of competing with him, since Penske has a whole digital stable including Bonnie Fuller’s Hollywood Life and WWD?

The good money is on Penske buying up the properties. He could shut down the THR weekly, keep the website, and really put Billboard to work. It’s been known for a while that Penske has been looking into music properties. This is almost too easy. (Billboard is a great resource.)

Would there be overlap? Most of the people who work at the trades have been employed by THR and Variety at some time.  They all know each other. It seems like a plan made in heaven. Penske, as people who know him say, “loves a media brand.”

Stay tuned…PS I don’t know Mike Bruno, the new editor of Billboard, I’m sure he’s great. And Matt Belloni, who’s taking over THR, is a solid guy.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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