Variety Hilariously Tells Subscribers: “Think Of The Paywall As A Velvet Rope”

This notice sent to subscribers made me laugh out loud. First, Variety tries to liken your forking over money for the trade to membership in a club, complete with a “velvet rope”. Then it proclaims its “continued commitment to criticism” even after laying off its highly regarded staff film critic Todd McCarthy. And that it’s “adding more reporters” without mentioning all the ones fired in recent months and years. But I also sigh audibly that Variety (and The Hollywood Reporter and the Los Angeles Times and and the little read and irrelevant TheCrap to name just a few content thieves) continue to steal Deadline’s original content without attribution. (For instance, it’s not ethical for the trades to phone up publicists and ask “Is [Mike or Nikki] right?” and then rewrite our scoops word for word and slap someone else’s byline on our stories without any additional reporting. Other media don’t even make the PR call…)


As every aspect of the industry changes, we are continuing our promise to give all of our subscribers quarterly updates on what’s new at Variety.

The biggest change is upcoming: Soon, will be a fully paid-access site, meaning the paywall will be up for everyone. No worries: There is no added charge, and as a subscriber you already have been provided a usemame and password to get behind the paywall. In the next few weeks, we will offer increased assistance about easily accessing In the meantime, if you need to be reminded of your login information, please call 1-866-MY-VARIETY or +1 515-247-2993 (outside the U.S.) or send an email to

The reason for the switch is simple: There has been a boom in showbiz coverage, but much of it is hearsay and spin, making it hard for readers to separate rumors from truth. A lot of the “reporting” has become more sensational as many of our online peers have been lured by the notion of bringing in more consumer eyeballs (and, they hope, more ad money). At Variety, we are unapologctically focused on people in the industry. Think of the paywall as a velvet rope, allowing you access to stories that have been confirmed by impartial sources and stories that will better inform you about the world you’re working in. Denied access behind the rope are items based on gossip, half-truths and anonymous rants. Variety subscribers will pay a single price allowing access to all of our news, data and reviews in multiple distribution platforms. We know you readers are an active bunch and may want our offerings in print form at home this morning, but may want it online at the office this afternoon or via mobile device while at the airport tomorrow.

As the entire business evolves, so docs our content. We’re sticking to our fundamentals, so some readers may not even notice the fact that Variety is covering a wider range of topics than before (technology, legal, animation, videogames, etc.) and covering some in new ways (music, below the line, etc.) We’re also renewing our role as a community touchstone, with more profiles of the newsmakers behind the deals, while we revive long-dormant features like Hitched, Births, Exec Shuflle, etc.

In the past few months, we have hired Leo Wolinsky as editor of Daily Variety and Chris Krewson as editor, with Kirstin Wilder promoted to managing editor, all to help us maintain our traditions as we cover changes in the industry. In the next few months we will be adding more reporters, including one in New York and one in London, an editor in L.A., a correspondent in the Mideast, etc.

All this is in addition to our continued coverage of film, TV, international business, guilds, agencies, theater and our continued commitment to criticism (including more than 1,200 film reviews annually, far more than any other publication), while we stick with our trademark slanguage and headlines.

This year we are increasing our conferences, scheduling panel sessions and events that will help the community to meet and exchange ideas about new opportunities in the industry. Anchor events for this year include the 3D Gaming Summit, the Future of Film Summit, the Entertainment & Technology Summit and the 3D Entertainment Summit. In terms of philanthropy, Variety’s “Power of series will also expand. Over the past three years, the “Power of effort has generated more than SI.8 million dollars in contributions to more than 10 non-profit organizations. In addition to Power of Women and Power of Youth, the roster this year will also include Power of Comedy.

Like everything else we do, these panels, conferences and charity events arc only possible because of the people in the industry. Though Hollywood folks have a reputation as heartless heathens, you have proven yourselves, again and again, to be generous and thoughtful. Thank you for that.

Our main goal at Variety is to keep you informed about everything you need that will make you better at your job. And we will continue to keep you informed on the things you should know about Variety. You are an important part of our business, and we recognize that our connections with all of you are the most important relationships we have. Thank you for your support and let us know what else we can do to keep all of you “members of the club.”

Thank you and all our best,

NEIL STILES, President –  BRIAN GOTT, Publisher – TIM GRAY, Editor

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