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EXCLUSIVE: Richard Johnson on Living and Daily-ing in LA

If nothing else, former New York Post Page Six gatekeeper Richard Johnson (pictured) has a great sense of timing. A year into his new job as west coast editor of The Daily, he finally got around to checking out a Clippers game.

“I went to my first game Monday night,” he tells FishbowlLA via email. “They killed the Thunder, and Blake Griffin had a monster dunk that has already been re-played a hundred times. Being a lifelong Knicks fan, I have a hard time liking the Lakers. So I am a Clippers fan… I just wish it was easier to get to downtown.”

Today marks the official one-year anniversary of The Daily. The west coast bureau is made up of Johnson and one other reporter, with plans underway to add a third staffer shortly in the wake of Hunter Walker‘s departure last fall for the New York Observer.

We were curious how the A-lister culture of LA compares to that of Manhattan. Johnson says there are some key differences. “The flow of celebrity “gossip” is more tightly managed in Los Angeles,” he notes. “There are more controlled red carpets, more junkets where stars give Q&As, more conference calls. Stars often don’t even stop to talk to the press on the red carpet, whereas in New York you see them out at parties–it’s more open.”

“New York has a lot of savvy sources who are happy to whisper in your ear. There are certainly those types of sources here as well, but they’re usually playing an angle.”

Along with LA’s criminal lack of pedestrian opportunities, Johnson says he pines for something else that came with his regular jaunts around New York. “I miss all the pretty women in midtown at lunchtime,” he confesses. “The women in Los Angeles are prettier per capita, but more widely spaced. Since the density is greater in Manhattan, you will see more pretty women per square foot, and per hour.”

Nevertheless, The Daily managed to allegedly snap during Year One that rarest of LA women–Nikki Finke. Even though the Deadline.com doyenne denied the photo was of her, it made for the biggest first-year splash on the pages of Johnson’s FLASH. Other highlights for Johnson include breaking Matt Weiner‘s contract dispute with AMC over Mad Men and revealing that Paula Deen was profitably concealing her diabetes condition.

Now that he is closer to film awards season, Johnson agrees the amount of annual Hollywood self-congratulation has become “obscene.” And while the west coast Daily crew does not write article headlines, he proudly believes there have already been some classics crowning his FLASH efforts.

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