I’ve thought a lot about the possibility this Variety-PMC deal would close and I’m sure my former colleagues and the newer staff there will be understandably apprehensive. This is a bit jarring for me. I spent 20 years writing columns and covering the film business for Daily and Weekly Variety before moving to Deadline. I am relieved to see the publication get an opportunity to be reinvigorated. I would be surprised, for instance, if Variety continues behind a pay wall, or continues to exist in its current form as a daily and weekly print publication.
I’m sure there will be a significant readjustment period for everyone as Variety is redefined, and some of that will undoubtedly involve creating a leaner, more efficient operation. As I learned quickly when I moved to Deadline, being change-able in the digital age can lead to good things. I still shake my head when I think about how many years I spent gathering information, writing stories and turning them in at day’s end to Variety editors, so that we could tell you tomorrow what we knew today.
Even before Nikki Finke created Deadline and changed the game by telling unvarnished truths quickly and with attitude and savvy, our system had already made it very hard to surprise the industry-reading audience, even after we added a website. I was a print snob who tried to nest on my exclusives and who thought trees had to die for me to be relevant. Nikki proved that a fallacy by building a dominant brand from the ground without killing a single tree. Too often, she would kick my butt up and down Wilshire Blvd by moving faster than I ever could at Variety.
I don’t like change, but I also didn’t like the feeling of sand shifting under my feet. I felt reinvigorated from the first day I arrived here. There is a visceral excitement to scooping on the fly, at a pace that allows me to tell my industry audience things they don’t already know. There is also satisfaction in doing that with far fewer people than the competition.
I will be intrigued to watch as Penske reconfigures Variety to make the pieces fit and complement what we do here at Deadline, along with incorporating some of the things that has made this place such a great ride for me.