Hatchet Men and Blood Loss: Things Just Keep Getting Better at Variety!

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The NY Times weighed in today with its assessment of the utter shitshow that is Variety, assaying a nicely observed survey from a few thousand feet above what appear to be the lawsuit-addled, staff-hemorrhaging, cash-poor trade institution's death throes. Sure, there are a few generally insane disclosures here, like the part about editor Timothy Gray removing that infamous Iron Cross pan "after a lawyer for the director and producer, Joshua Newton, objected, but reposted it after viewing the film and deciding to 'stand by the review as it was written.'" But for my money, let's go directly into the newsroom for a profile in abject terror from an anonymous staffer.

David Poland gets all the best e-mail over at Movie City News, like this screed he responsibly urges readers to take with a grain of salt but which seems to credibly describe the current operating environment at Variety. Not fun:

It's like clockwork to them now. Every couple of months, [personnel director Mark] Torres will swagger into Tim Gray's office, along with Kirsten Wilder and/or former Peter Bart assistant Krystal Hunt (carrying a yellow notepad to write down names and dates and such), and they'll have what looks like a fun, cordial meeting behind closed glass doors. Occasionally, [president] Neil Stiles or [executive editor] Steve Gaydos will pop in -- everyone looks like they're having fun. They'll repeat this very visible process several times over the course of a month, just in case the staff isn't sufficiently terrified.

A few weeks later, they'll blind-side everyone with the news. No proposed buyouts, no warnings, your number is just up -- probably because Tim secretly doesn't like you, or maybe you pissed off Gaydos, or you have a content position Stiles doesn't value, or who knows. [...]

It's interesting that Variety has many more editors than reporters now. In fact, the trade almost has more folks with publisher-level titles -- Stiles, Brian Gott and Linda Buckley Bruno -- as reporters. Sure, there's a good reason people are getting let go -- money's tight, and Gott's main job acumen (cashing checks) isn't as easy to pull off as it used to be. But instead of a big, sweeping, professionally handled layoffs, you get terrifying incremental blood loss. And you rarely understand the reason behind the decisions.

Ugh. Look, it's only temporary, right? Peter Bart turned in his BlackBerry and the paywall's looking good and black and thoroughly unappealing these days. Everything is going to be fine.

· Variety Insider Takes A Bat Out And Swings For The Inside Baseball Fences [The Hot Blog]

· Trade Papers Struggling in Hollywood [NYT]



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