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Ken Tucker Takes Buyout, Departs Entertainment Weekly

Yet another big name departure from Entertainment Weekly to report today: Ken Tucker, who was part of the magazine when it launched over 20 years ago, has taken a buyout. Tucker was EW’s TV critic, and with him leaving, EW is now out two veteran critics in just two weeks. Last Wednesday Lisa Schwarzbaum left the magazine as well.

“Way back in 1989, when the first Bush was president and EW.com was just a twinkle in Bill Gannon’s eye, Ken was on the start-up team that launched Entertainment Weekly with this original mission statement: ‘We must be opinionated and we must be talked about,’ wrote Jess Cagle, EW’s managing editor, in a note. “Ken never stopped fulfilling that mission, and even though he’s leaving EW, his voice, sensibility, humor, passion, incomparable wit and humane spirit will have a lasting and benevolent impact.”

“So, yes, I’m leaving @EW, my home base since 1989,” tweeted Tucker. “Had a great time helping launch that super-fine mag/website. Time to write elsewhere.”

Cagle’s full memo is below.

Dear Colleagues:

Ken Tucker was working at EW even before there was an EW. Way back in 1989, when the first Bush was president and EW.com was just a twinkle in Bill Gannon’s eye, Ken was on the start-up team that launched Entertainment Weekly with this original mission statement: “We must be opinionated and we must be talked about.” Ken never stopped fulfilling that mission, and even though he’s leaving EW, his voice, sensibility, humor, passion, incomparable wit and humane spirit will have a lasting and benevolent impact. Please join me in thanking him for being such an invaluable colleague and great critic.

He has contributed to all parts of the magazine. He has written cover stories, including one on Sean Penn, with whom he shared a cigarette despite the fact that  “I haven’t smoked since high school; this is my idea of ‘participatory journalism.’” He has provided reviews of just about every medium. He has edited the DVD section.

But his role as TV critic has made Ken an icon. He was an early champion of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “The X Files”—two shows that became important EW franchises. Judd Apatow credited Ken’s review with saving “Freaks and Geeks” long enough for it to last one great season. When the Kennedy Center Honors needed an essay on David Letterman for the ceremony program, they turned, of course, to Ken. With great enthusiasm and skill, Ken has taken his talents into the digital arena; he has put up something in the neighborhood of 1,850 posts since 2008 on EW.com, home to the Ken Tucker’s Watching TV blog.

He has stepped in front of the camera numerous times, to great results, matching wits with Oprah, Craig Ferguson, the hosts of Today and GMA, and Bill O’Reilly among many others. He has even filled in for Charlie Rose. And he is a fixture on NPR. There’s no doubt we’ll be reading, and watching, a lot more of Ken in the years to come, and we wish him the best as he writes his next chapter. Thank you, Ken, for being the best kind of critic—for treating your medium and its artisans with tough, genuine love.

Sincerely,

Jess

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