By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Then, the companywide cost-cutting at Reed Business (after it couldn’t sell itself) hit Variety even harder on January 26, with 30 layoffs on both the business and editorial sides, including some corporate and central resources who work across the division. The best-known included Mike Jones, Anne Thompson, Alys Marshall, Phil Gallo, Andrew Barker, Byron Perry, Lisa Weinstein, Martha Hernandez, Diane Garrett, Ben Fritz and Jeff Sneider.
I am curious about what happens to film critic John Anderson after he scandalously punched out publicist Jeff Dowd while covering Dirt! The Movie! for Variety at Sundance. It’s despicable that the trade’s lapdog reporters defended Anderson’s violent behavior just because he was flacked. More so if Variety keeps using him.
Meanwhile, Variety Group President and Publisher Neil Stiles is still reviewing what to do with Weekly Variety. He’s sure it will change both in terms of publishing date and content, as it needs updating, but there’s no decision yet. Nevertheless, a lot of insiders think it will disappear as a standalone and be folded into Daily Variety.
There’s an interesting back story behind the Variety cuts. I’ve confirmed that Jeff DeBalko, the president of the Reed Business Information (RBI-US) Business Media Division, as well as the company’s chief Internet officer, is feuding with Peter Bart. “Jeff fucking hates him,” one insider told me.
This isn’t a good enemy for Bart to have because DeBalko is the big kahuna, who, since 2006, has orchestrated the transition of RBI-US from a print-centric to a digital b-to-b publisher. And he’s been on a slash-and-burn campaign for two years. I hear DeBalko wants to shut down all the print publications and make the entire operation digital. And even though he has no direct oversight of the trade, DeBalko has been saying internally that he’ll be the first person to “bring Peter Bart and his prima donnas at Variety to heel.” Ouch!
Think that’s juicy? Here’s more: DeBalko is close to Broadcasting & Cable editor Ben Grossman (they golf together). Bart and Grossman hate each other because Grossman tried to poach Variety TV reporter Mike Schneider away some months back, but got cock-blocked by Bart despite DeBalko’s support for the move. As one insider tells me, “DeBalko may want to move Bart out, and move Grossman, whom he trusts, in.”
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