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Posts Tagged ‘Neil Stiles’

Lawsuit Pits Jay Penske Against Former Variety Exec

It was to be called Beverly Hills Entertainment Week. But the 2012 event never happened and according to reports late last night on Deadline and TheWrap, past and present regimes of Variety are tangled up in the 90210 details.

Variety Media LLC is claiming in an April 29 LA Superior Court complaint that a $500,000 event sponsorship deal set up previously at Variety with Beverly Hills Media Group was fraudulent. In addition, the trade’s new ownership alleges that because the sponsorship deal was never properly disclosed during due diligence for the PMC-Variety deal, they are now on the hook for a penalty.

The defendants, in a counter-claim filed Tuesday, insist they tried to set up a meeting with Penske during the Variety acquisition process but were denied.* From Sharon Waxman‘s report:

The complaint accuses the unnamed “executive officer” of Variety of engaging in a “fraudulent, self-dealing transaction while the assets of Variety were being marketed for sale for the purpose of diverting substantial revenues generated by Variety…”

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And Now for Some Variety Rumors

Now that Variety is under the wing of Penske Media, the rumors about the paper’s future are swirling. According to The New York Post, the big news doesn’t concern the print side; insiders claim that Variety’s paywall will be taken down soon. Penske is also expected to expand the paper internationally.

Of course we know what you’re reading this for, you want to know who is getting axed. It’s perverse, but hey, we don’t judge. Here’s what  has been said so far: Neil Stiles and Tim Gray, Variety’s president and editor-in-chief, respectively, are both expected to get bounced. There’s a chance that Bonnie Fuller, current editor of Penske’s HollywoodLife.com, will replace Gray, but really, who knows?

Changes are definitely coming to Variety, so we’ll update as they do.

Variety is on the Block

Reed Business Information announced today that it is putting Variety up for sale again. Parent company Reed Elsevier tried to sell Variety and all its other RBI b-to-b’s back in 2008, but was unable to get their asking price due to the global financial collapse.

Says RBI CEO Mark Kelsey: “Variety is an iconic title serving the film and entertainment industry for more than 100 years. With RBI’s increasing focus on data services, and the sale of our other US print magazines, it now makes sense for us to sell the business. Variety has an incredibly talented team who have successfully innovated and expanded the franchise in industry news and analysis. I have no doubt the business will continue to thrive under new ownership.”

Nikki Finke, meanwhile, is taking credit for the impending sale. She also admits to wondering just how big Variety president Neil Stiles’ office is. Can’t see Deadline taking that plunge, satisfying as it would undoubtedly be for Finke.

Nikki Finke Responds to Variety BlogDogger Accusation

Last week, we picked up on an item posted by Variety‘s new watchdog BlogDogger, which alleged some Deadline.com time-stamp funny business. Essentially, the cross-town trade wondered how, the morning after, an item with the same 3:00 am PT posting time as Variety‘s had retroactively appeared.

In an email late last night to Variety‘s Tim Gray, Neil Stiles and film editor Josh Dickey, with a cc: to this reporter, Finke argued that Deadline.com had slow-cooked the same film project news several days before Variety posted their January 5 article. Per Finke’s email:

In actuality, Deadline’s story originated two days before Variety ever published. Mike Fleming originated the story on January 3rd at 15:40 with the facts intact. He worked on the story constantly before he published.

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NYT Takes Some Shots at Variety

“Can a movie database help save Variety?”

So begins Brooks BarnesNew York Times piece about the trade’s launch of a new paid service called FlixTracker, first reported by Fast Company.

The folks at Variety would of course counter that their publication does not need saving, and that the paywall is working out just fine. But the tone of the NYT piece is most definitely skeptical, continuing straight through into paragraph two:

The venerable trade newspaper is a shadow of its former self, eclipsed in the Hollywood media hierarchy by feisty blogs (principally Deadline.com) and starved of ad revenue by cost-cutting studios. Neil Stiles, president of the Variety Group, is nevertheless optimistic that its fortunes will improve–he said in an interview, for instance, that he expected Oscar-related ad sales to be “very, very marginally up.” But it’s tough going.

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Variety Publisher Ridicules Latest Takeover Rumor

Today’s gossip item by Richard Johnson at The Daily quotes only an unnamed “insider.” And it does not specify what realm of the Hollywood media or business firmament that insider toils in.

Still, the idea of Variety being acquired by Nikki Finke‘s boss, 30-year-old wunderkind Jay Penske, is enough to make former grand poobah Peter Bart lose his Hillcrest Country Club lunch. To The Daily‘s credit, they actually ran this one by the folks on Wilshire Blvd.:

“He is working on a deal, and the numbers seem consistent based on online and print and profits,” one insider told Flash yesterday. But Variety Group president Neil Stiles (pictured) said, “Nonsense, and you can quote me.”

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NYT Documents the Decline of Variety

varietycoverwhiteman3333.jpgNew York Times’ Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes write about the history and plight of the entertainment business’ oldest trade Variety:

In a more detailed interview, Neil Stiles, Variety’s president, said his paper was profitable but declined to disclose financial figures for the operation, which has been owned since 1987 by Reed Elsevier. He said Variety had suffered a year-to-year ad revenue decline less severe than the estimates of 50 percent or more that have been heard in Hollywood.

But Martin Kaplan had the best quote:

“Traditionally, the trades have offered gossip, casting announcements, advance reviews and hopefully a little news,” he said. “Go through that list and ask what’s left. It’s all widely available elsewhere.”

Whole piece is here.

Previously on FBLA:

  • Todd McCarthy and David Rooney Out at Variety

  • Todd McCarthy and David Rooney Out at Variety

    variety-logo-75557122.jpgVariety has let go their last staff critics Todd McCarthy and David Rooney. They will be replaced by “freelancers.” We hope that won’t become code for crowd-sourcing student labor and Twitter reactions.

    Hm. Chills.

    NYT reports:

    Neil Stiles, the president of Variety, said the entertainment industry trade paper is cutting from its staff two of its most prominent writers — film reviewer Todd McCarthy and theater critic David Rooney.

    In a telephone interview, Mr. Stiles said the critics were cut as a cost-saving measure.

    Twitter reaction: OMG! #underemployed

    Variety.com To Begin Charging For Content

    variety234432.jpgVariety announced today that it hopes to introduce its new pay wall plan in stages. And unlike other publications, which only give you a blurb before asking you to register, starting tomorrow Variety.com will allow readers to access two whole pages of content before randomly selecting one in ten readers to ask to subscribe.

    Eventually, Variety is hoping to only allow non-members access to five pages of free content a month.

    Variety is taking a risk by being one of the first niche publications to enact an online pay wall. Hopefully Nikke Finke won’t just go and take all of its readers right out from under its nose.

    Read More: Variety.com Going Behind Paywall, Again; Apes FT.com’s Model –paidContent

    Variety Weekly Will Remain As Much — Still Weekly

    neilstiles.jpgContrary to Nikki Finke‘s shrill bloggeristic rant that Variety would fold its weekly magazine into the daily paper, even in the dire financial straits that plague journalism, Hollywood’s mouthpiece has no current plans for such.

    weeklyvariety.jpgVariety president and publisher Neil Stiles told FBLA that the topic had been considered, but no decision had been made. He also said the idea had been discussed for the last several years. Such a prediction is either three years behind the times or three years ahead, Stiles said.

    In fact, the idea was seriously considered way back in 1993 when I started as a reporter at Variety. It was discarded, largely because the Weekly Variety issue is considered a decent earner.

    And as Stiles pointed out, in this Internet era of instant news, the Weekly provides a thoughtful forum for analysis of that news. But as all CEOs are wont to do, he left the door open. “Not yet, but it’s still a possibility,” he said.

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