Variety Staff Layoffs Coming This Week (Plus, Bart vs DeBalko Feud Brewing; Is B&C's Grossman Going To Replace Bart?); B&C Downsizing To Standard Magazine

UPDATE: Variety Layoffs Starting Today

I first received word that chief marketing officer Madelyn Hammond left Variety on Friday. This was her second go-round at the trade after being associate publisher and rejoining in December 2007. “I can’t believe they let her get away. This is the kind of short sighted thinking that can sink businesses,” a major studio exec emailed me. Now the company-wide cost cutting at Reed Business (after it couldn’t sell itself) hits Variety even harder this week, and perhaps as soon as Monday. I’m told there’ll be layoffs in both the business and editorial sides. I can’t confirm the number, but one tipster tells me as many as 30, which sounds enormous. So be gentle when you speak to people there tomorrow.

(I am curious what happens to film critic John Anderson after he scandalously punched out publicist Jeff Dowd while covering Dirt! The Movie! for Variety at Sundance. It’s despicable that the trade’s lapdog reporters defended Anderson’s violent behavior just because he was flacked. More so if Variety keeps using him.)

Meanwhile, Peter Bart is telling pals that it’s likely all over for Weekly Variety as a stand-alone publication. I’d heard this a while back, but Variety Group prez and publisher Neil Stiles keeps denying he’s made a decision yet.

There’s an interesting backstory behind the Variety cuts. I’ve confirmed that Jeff DeBalko, the President of the Reed Business Information (RBI-US) Business Media Division as well as the company’s Chief Internet Officer, is feuding with Peter Bart. “Jeff fucking hates him,” one insider told me tonight. This isn’t a good enemy for Bart to have because DeBalko is the big kahuna who since 2006 has orchestrated the transition of RBI-US from a print-centric to a digital b-to-b publisher. And he’s been on a slash and burn campaign for two years. I hear DeBalko wants to shut down all the print publications and make the entire operation digital. And even though he has no direct oversight of the trade, DeBalko has been saying internally that he’ll be the first person to “bring Peter Bart and his prima donnas at Variety to heel.” Ouch!

Think that’s juicy? Here’s more: Hammond hated Stiles because he “didn’t like the industry and thought going to the Emmys and Golden Globes was an imposition.” DeBalko is close to B&C editor Ben Grossman (they golf together). Bart and Grossman hate each other because Grossman tried to poach Variety TV reporter Mike Schneider away some months back, but got cock-blocked by Bart despite DeBalko’s support for the move. As one insider tells me, “DeBalko may want to move Bart out, and move Grossman whom he trusts in.” Fascinating stuff.

I’m told other Reed publications that will get sliced and diced in the near future are Publishers Weekly and the consumer electronic trade Twice. But my insiders are knocking down the rumors that Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News are merging. I’m told they will continue to exist as separate publications. On Friday, B&C‘s executive editor PJ Bednarski was laid off. (There was just a simple announcement on the trade’s website, which is how Bednarski wanted it.) This comes after Ben Grossman took over as editor last May and added staff. Then the economy went into the tank, so he had to trim back. Meanwhile, B&C is downsizing to standard magazine. The sales people have been tipping advertisers about this for the past month.

  1. Reed Business Information No Longer For Sale — For Now
  2. Variety’s Stylephile Victim Of Recession
  3. Variety Fires Half Its NYC Sales Office; Reed Elsevier Info’s Bidders Down To 3
  4. Tuesday Massacre At Hollywood Reporter
  5. More On Variety’s (& RBI’s) Sale…
  6. SHOCKER: Behind Reed Business Sale; Who Wants To Be Variety’s New Owner?
  7. B&C Steals Vet Hollywood Reporter Editor
  8. BLACK MONDAY: Shakeup And Layoffs At Broadcasting & Cable, MultiChannel News
  9. RIP: John M Higgins, Astute B&C Editor

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