It’s unclear if this is a temporary appointment or a permanent one. (Well, as permanent as things get at the beleaguered Los Angeles Times where people are coming and going like it’s LAX…) From the new top editor Russ Stanton: “Leo Wolinsky will be moving to features beginning Monday, March 17th. I’ve asked him to provide managerial oversight, help with staffing issues and use his experience on A1 to help us get more stories from the feature sections on the front page. Leo will retain his title of Associate Editor.” For now this puts Wolinsky in charge of entertainment, cultural and life-style features at the paper, including Calendar.
I don’t think much of Wolinsky because, as one of the LA Times’ managing editors, he met secretly with a lot of bold-faced names about a possible purchase of the paper back when the paper’s bigwigs (all gone now) were bickering with Tribune Co. True, his duties include the thankless task of outreach to the readership to stop the newspaper’s circulation nosedive. But, as I first reported, Wolinsky, acting as then editor Dean Baquet’s surrogate, was playing a dangerous game with the paper’s integrity by having secret talks with the “billionaire boys’ club” — David Geffen, Eli Broad, ex-mayor Richard Riordan, and others — to drum up local support for a local buyer of the LA Times. (Geffen in September 2005 invited Wolinsky to his Beverly Hills estate, and together they discussed Geffen’s buying the paper with Baquet’s blessing.) But Wolinsky himself refused to confirm or deny or even discuss the meetings with me. I found it bizarre that both Wolinsky and Baquet were so blind to the obvious need for transparency at the time. Wolinsky had been overheard saying there’s no reason for him to “put up a red flag” when his conversations turn toward the Times’ purchase.
Gee, a top editor who likes to suck up to rich people could be a godsend to the Hollywood moguls when it comes to Calendar coverage of their studios and networks. But, then, I can’t imagine that section’s reporting could get more soft … or irrelevant.