E5 Global Media CEO Richard Beckman just informed the staff about Eric Mika’s exit. It’s hardly unexpected. Ever since Beckman was hired in January, he has been telling people outside the trade — but, deliberately, not the staff — that he plans massive firings at The Hollywood Reporter because the company plans to abandon the traditional trade format and formula. Instead it will become a small online showbiz news aggregator, and a glossy magazine, and a cable TV programmer which all depend on whether The Hollywood Reporter brand itself is marketable. On the other hand, there is a real possibility that the new owners may just flip the property or take on outside partners instead of exploit it themselves. So the future of The Hollywood Reporter as we all knew it remains a big question mark right now.
Meanwhile, I recently confirmed that e5 Global Media tried to hire away Los Angeles Times VP of entertainment advertising Lynne Segall around the same time that the company tried to hire me as THR editor-in-chief. But Segall wasn’t eager to return to her former haunt where she last served as VP and associate publisher before leaving in 2006. I’ve learned that Segall listened to e5’s bait but didn’t bite.
It may be nearly impossible for the new owners of THR to convince Hollywood advertisers, who’ve virtually stopped supporting the trade in its current beleaguered state, to come back. Beckman is convinced he doesn’t need them because of his advertising and promotions expertise from Conde Nast/Fairchild.
Many very smart people think the new owners might just dump THR if they get the right offer. That’s because e5 is much more excited about another brand it bought, Billboard, and I know there’s a ton of interest from people wanting to partner on or pry away that valuable music title. But THR? Not so much. Instead, the few nibbles have to do with using The Hollywood Reporter title to brand awards shows, celebrity stuff, and other attempts to make a buck from fluff. Any showbiz journalism appears to be simply an after-thought.