THR's “Mad Dog” Bitchslaps Both Trades

beckman3A fashion blog called Daily Front Row just posted a long Q&A about the life and times of The Hollywood Reporter‘s new boss, e5 Global media CEO Richard Beckman (aka Mad Dog). Here are some pertinent parts:

The Hollywood Reporter has seen better days. How do you plan to fix it?
RICHARD BECKMAN: By turning it into the most interesting media ­vehicle that covers the entertainment business. I want to create a product that is the crack—the drug crack—of the industry, whether it’s digitally or in print. I just ask that they be ­patient with us while we do it.

How’s it going so far?
RB: Let’s say there’s a good part and a bad part about taking over a poorly run business. The good part is you get to look around and see people who ­clearly aren’t doing their jobs so ­terrifically—that haven’t had good leadership, that are unimaginative, that have had a parent company that hasn’t invested or believed in the business—and think, This is great! I can make something really spectacular out of this. The bad part is getting there—the minutiae of laying pipe, hiring the right people, and evaluating what the brand is ready to be. It’s some heavy lifting.

Is there still room for two trades?
RB: There has been all these years. But if I’m setting the bar at where Variety is—and this is going to sound really caustic—I’m setting the bar too low. Both businesses are, obviously, in varying degrees of trouble. But I’m going to reinvent the model, and good luck to them. I have nothing against Variety, but my team and I have succeeded ­everywhere we’ve been, and if I were the industry I wouldn’t bet against us.

Does the almost complete lack of paid ads in the current issue of the Reporter make you want to cry?
RB: It would make me cry if I’d been here longer. But some of the great minds of the dark ages have been running these businesses. Their marketing strategies can be characterized as the bland leading the bland. Completely unimaginative. But despite what they’ve done, what we have is a highly profitable business—without doing anything ­creative and without any investment. So the opportunities are infinite.

RB: Well, what you have here are historic brands that have not had the right leadership, investment, or people ­running the businesses. Sometimes businesses are stronger than brands and sometimes brands are stronger than businesses. The brand here is stronger than the business. We just want to raise the quality of the business to the level of the brand. There’s not anyone in the world that hasn’t heard of the Hollywood Reporter.

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