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Penske Deal May Put Gerry Byrne Back in Driver’s Seat

Media reactions to this morning’s Variety-PMC deal confirmation are coming in faster and more furiously than a Vin Diesel-Paul Walker car chase.

But forget for a moment about Jay Penske, Nikki Finke and Bonnie Fuller. As NYC-based columnist Roger Friedman astutely points out, one of the central figures in this new Hollywood trade horizon could be an individual most media watchers are unfamiliar with:

Sitting pretty on the Penske board is my old friend, Gerry Byrne (pictured), who commands a daily table at Michael’s. Years ago, it was Gerry who engineered Variety’s stunning comeback from the dead with Peter Bart as editor-in-chief. In the early 90s they revamped the Variety design and made the paper matter again. Eventually Gerry left Variety and sometime later became publisher of The Hollywood Reporter when it was owned by Nielsen. When the Guggenheim people came in, Byrne was sidelined. He left when his contract was up, and joined up with Penske.

Got that? Byrne has gone from Variety to THR to PMC. Whatever he told Penske about the potential future value of Variety may have had more to do with this deal being consummated than just about everything else put together.

[Photo courtesy PMC]

Previously on FishbowlLA:
Variety Sold to Deadline.com Owner Penske Media

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