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The Hollywood Reporter (THR) is an American digital and print magazine, and website, which focuses on the Hollywood film, television, and entertainment industries. It was founded in 1930 as a daily trade paper, and in 2010 switched to a weekly large-format print magazine with a revamped website.
Early years; 1930-1987
The Hollywood Reporter was founded in 1930 by William R. "Billy" Wilkerson (1890–1962) as Hollywood's first daily entertainment trade newspaper. The first edition appeared on September 3, 1930, and featured Wilkerson's front-page "Tradeviews" column, which became influential. The newspaper appeared Monday-to-Saturday for the first 10 years, except for a brief period, then Monday-to-Friday from 1940. Wilkerson used caustic articles and gossip to generate publicity and got noticed by the studio bosses in New York and some studio lots tried to ban the paper.
Wilkerson became friends with Howard Hughes and the paper wrote many favorable stories about him and his film plans. In return, Hughes, in addition to advertising revenue, also provided financial assistance to the paper when necessary.
Wilkerson ran The Hollywood Reporter until his death in September 1962, although his final column appeared 18 months prior. Wilkerson's wife, Tichi Wilkerson Kassel, took over as publisher and editor-in-chief when her husband died.
From the late 1930s, Wilkerson used The Hollywood Reporter to push the view that the industry was a communist stronghold. In particular, he opposed the screenplay writers' trade union, the Screen Writers Guild, which he called the "Red Beachhead". In 1946 the Guild considered creating an American Authors' Authority to hold copyright for writers, instead of ownership passing to the studios. Wilkerson devoted his "Tradeviews" column to the issue on July 29, 1946, headlined "A Vote for Joe Stalin." He went to confession before publishing it, knowing the damage it would cause, but was apparently encouraged by the priest to go ahead with it.
The column contained the first industry names, including Dalton Trumbo and Howard Koch, on what became the Hollywood blacklist, known as "Billy's list". Eight of the 11 people Wilkerson named were among the "Hollywood Ten" who were blacklisted after hearings in 1947 by the House Un-American Activities Committee. When Wilkerson died, his THR obituary said that he had "named names, pseudonyms and card numbers and was widely credited with being chiefly responsible for preventing communists from becoming entrenched in Hollywood production."
In 1997 THR reporter David Robb wrote a story about the newspaper's involvement, but the editor, Robert J. Dowling, declined to run it. For the blacklist's 65th anniversary in 2012, the THR published a lengthy investigative piece about Wilkerson's role, by reporters Gary Baum and Daniel Miller. The same edition carried an apology from Wilkerson's son W. R. Wilkerson III. He wrote that his father had been motivated by revenge for his thwarted ambition to own a studio.
On April 11, 1988, Tichi Wilkerson Kassel sold the paper to BPI Communications, owned by Affiliated Publications, for $26.7 million. Robert J. Dowling became THR president in 1988, and editor-in-chief and publisher in 1991. Dowling hired Alex Ben Block as editor in 1990. Block and Teri Ritzer damped much of the sensationalism and cronyism that was prominent in the paper under the Wilkersons. In 1994, BPI Communications was sold to Verenigde Nederlandse Uitgeverijen (VNU) for $220 million.
In March 2006 a private equity consortium led by Blackstone and KKR, both with ties to the conservative movement in the United States, acquired THR along with the other assets of VNU. It joined those publications with AdWeek and A.C. Nielsen to form The Nielsen Company.
Matthew King, vice president for content and audience, editorial director Howard Burns, and executive editor Peter Pryor left the paper in a wave of layoffs in December 2006; editor Cynthia Littleton, widely respected throughout the industry, reported directly to Kilcullen. The Reporter absorbed another blow when Littleton left her position for an editorial job at Variety in March 2007. Web editor Glenn Abel also left after 16 years with the paper.
In December 2009, Prometheus Global Media, a newly formed company formed by Pluribus Capital Management and Guggenheim Partners, and chaired by Jimmy Finkelstein, CEO of News Communications, parent of political journal The Hill, acquired THR from Nielsen Business Media. It pledged to invest in the brand and grow the company. Richard Beckman, formerly of Condé Nast, was appointed as CEO.
In 2010, Beckman recruited Janice Min, the former editor-in-chief of Us Weekly, as Editorial Director to "eviscerate" the existing daily trade paper and reinvent it as a glossy, large-format weekly magazine. The Hollywood Reporter relaunched with a weekly print edition and a revamped website that enabled it to break news. Eight months after its initial report, The New York Times took note of the many scoops THR had generated, adding that the new glossy format seemed to be succeeding with its "rarefied demographic", stating, "They managed to change the subject by going weekly... The large photos, lush paper stock and great design are a kind of narcotic here."
By February 2013' the Times returned to THR, filing a report on a party for Academy Award nominees the magazine had hosted at the Los Angeles restaurant Spago. Noting the crowd of top celebrities in attendance, the Times alluded to the fact that many Hollywood insiders were now referring to THR as "the new Vanity Fair". Ad sales since Min's hiring were up more than 50%, while traffic to the magazine's website had grown by 800%.
In January 2014, Janice Min was promoted to President/Chief Creative Officer of the Entertainment Group of Guggenheim Media, giving her oversight of THR and its sister brand Billboard. Min is joined by co-preseident John Amato, who is responsible for business initiatives.
Guggenheim Partners announced on December 17, 2015, that it would sell the Prometheus media properties to its executive Todd Boehly. The company was sold to Eldridge Industries in February 2017. On February 1, 2018, Eldridge Industries announced the merger of its media properties with Media Rights Capital to form Valence Media.
In February 2017 Min announced she was stepping down from her role as President/Chief Creative Officer overseeing The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard to take on a new role at parent company. Simultaneously, it was announced that longtime executive editor Matthew Belloni would take over as Editorial Director.
In April 2020, Belloni announced he was abruptly stepping down after 14 years at the publication in the wake of recent clashes with the company’s leadership over editorial issues. Allegedly, Asif Satchu and Modi Wiczyk, co-CEOs of parent company Valence Media, have pushed the editorial staffs at its publications to not run stories, to spike unfavorable stories about friends, and to overpromote Valence-owned businesses like Dick Clark Productions.
Founder Billy Wilkerson served as the publisher of THR until his death in September 1962. Wilkerson's wife, Tichi Wilkerson Kassel, took over as publisher and editor-in-chief when her husband died.
Robert J. Dowling, who was named president of THR when Kassel sold the company, became editor-in-chief and publisher in 1991.
Tony Uphoff assumed the publisher position in November 2005.
John Kilcullen replaced Uphoff in October 2006, as publisher of Billboard. Kilcullen was a defendant in Billboard's infamous "dildo" lawsuit, in which he was accused of race discrimination and sexual harassment. VNU settled the suit on the courthouse steps. Kilcullen "exited" Nielsen in February 2008 "to pursue his passion as an entrepreneur."
In April 2010 Lori Burgess was named as publisher. Burgess had been publisher of OK! magazine since October 2008. Michaela Apruzzese was named associate publisher, entertainment in May 2010. Apruzzese previously served as the director of movie advertising for Los Angeles Times Media Group.
Lynne Segall, former vice president and associate publisher, was named publisher and senior vice president in June 2011.
The weekly print edition of The Hollywood Reporter includes profiles, original photography and interviews with entertainment figures; articles about major upcoming releases and product launches; film reviews and film festival previews; coverage of the latest industry deals, TV ratings, box-office figures and analysis of global entertainment business trends and indicators; photos essays and reports from premieres and other red-carpet events; and the latest on Hollywood fashion and lifestyle.
The Reporter published a primitive "satellite" digital edition in the late 1980s. It became the first daily entertainment trade paper to start a website in 1995. Initially, the site offered free news briefs with complete coverage firewalled as a premium paid service. In later years, the website became mostly free as it became more reliant on ad sales and less on subscribers. The website had already gone through a redesign by the time competitor Variety took to the web in 1998. In 2002 the Reporter's website won the Jesse H. Neal Award for business journalism. In November 2013, The Hollywood Reporter launched the style site Pret-a-Reporter.
THR.com, The Hollywood Reporter's website, re-launched in 2010, offers breaking entertainment news, reviews and blogs; original video content (and film and TV clips) and photo galleries; plus in-depth movie, television, music, awards, style, technology and business coverage. As of August 2013, Comscore measured 12 million unique visitors per month to the site.
Editors and reporters
THR's editors have included Janice Min (2010–2017), Elizabeth Guider (2007–2010), Cynthia Littleton (2005–2007), Howard Burns (2001–2006), Anita Busch (1999–2001), and Alex Ben Block (1990–1999).
Alex Ben Block was hired as editor for special issues in 1990, and was promoted to editor of the daily edition in 1992. After Block left, former Variety film editor, Anita Busch, became editor between 1999 and 2001. Busch was credited with making the paper competitive with Variety.
In March 2006, Cynthia Littleton, former broadcast television editor and deputy editor, was named editor, but left the role a year later for an editorial job at Variety. In July 2007 THR named Elizabeth Guider as its new editor. An 18-year veteran of Variety, where she served as Executive Editor, Guider assumed responsibility for the editorial vision and strategic direction of The Hollywood Reporter's daily and weekly editions, digital content offerings and executive conferences. Guider left The Hollywood Reporter in early 2010.
In addition to hiring Eric Mika, Rose Eintstein and Elizabeth Guider, the Reporter hired the following staff in 2007:
- Todd Cunningham, former assistant managing editor of the LA Business Journal, as National Editor for The Hollywood Reporter: Premier Edition
- Steven Zeitchik as Senior Writer, based in New York, where he provide news analysis and features for the Premiere Edition
- Melissa Grego, former managing editor of TV Week, as Editor of HollywoodReporter.com
- Jonathan Landreth as the new Asian bureau chief, in addition to 13 new writers across Asia
However, staffing levels began to drop again in 2008. In April, Nielsen Business Media eliminated between 40 and 50 editorial staff positions at The Hollywood Reporter and its sister publications: Adweek, Brandweek, Editor & Publisher and Mediaweek. In December, another 12 editorial positions were cut at the trade paper. In addition, 2008 saw substantial turnover in the online department: THR.com Editor Melissa Grego left her position in July to become executive editor of Broadcasting & Cable, and Managing Editor Scott McKim left to become a new media manager at Knox College. With the entertainment industry as a whole shrinking, "Hollywood studios have cut more than $20 million from the Motion Picture Association of America budget this year. The resulting staff and program reductions are expected to permanently shrink the scope and size of the six-studio trade and advocacy group."
Staffing at THR in 2008 saw even further cutbacks with "names from today's tragic bloodletting of The Hollywood Reporter's staff" adding up quickly in the hard economic times at the end of 2008. "The trade has not only been thin, but only publishing digital version 19 days this holiday season. Film writers Leslie Simmons, Carolyn Giardina, Gregg Goldstein, plus lead TV critic Barry Garron and TV reporter Kimberly Nordyke, also special issues editor Randee Dawn Cohen out of New York and managing editor Harley Lond and international department editor Hy Hollinger, plus Dan Evans, Lesley Goldberg, Michelle Belaski, James Gonzalez were among those chopped from the masthead."
Gossip blogger Roger Friedman joined The Hollywood Reporter as a senior correspondent in May 2009, a year after being fired by Fox News for writing an article on an online illegally bootlegged preliminary copy of the movie. Business Insider described it as a surprising and risky move. In March 2010, Friedman's employment agreement was not renewed by The Hollywood Reporter.
When Janice Min and Lori Burgess came on board in 2010, the editorial and sales staff increased nearly 50%, respectively. Min hired various recognized journalists in the entertainment industry, most notably Variety film critic Todd McCarthy after his firing from Variety in March 2010, as well as Kim Masters of NPR, Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle, Lacey Rose of Forbes, and Pamela McClintock of Variety.
Competition and lawsuits
Variety was established in 1905 in New York City as a weekly trade paper, initially covering vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley and the city's Theater District. In 1932, Variety sued The Hollywood Reporter for $46,500 for plagiarism, alleging that THR was plagiarizing information from Variety following its publication in New York on Tuesdays, by way of phoning or wiring the information back to Hollywood, so that THR could publish the information before Variety reached Hollywood three days later on Friday. Then, in 1933, Variety started its own daily Hollywood edition, Daily Variety, to cover the film industry.
From 1988 to 2014, Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter were both located on Wilshire Boulevard along Miracle Mile. In March 2007, The Hollywood Reporter surpassed Daily Variety to achieve the largest total distribution of any entertainment daily.
In 2011, Deadline Hollywood, a property of Penske Media Corporation, sued The Hollywood Reporter for more than $5 million, alleging copyright infringement. In 2013 THR's parent company settled the suit. According to The Wall Street Journal, "The lawsuit [was] widely viewed in Hollywood as a proxy for the bitter war for readers and advertising dollars... The two sides agreed on a statement reading in part: 'Prometheus admits that The Hollywood Reporter copied source code from Penske Media Corporation's Web site www.tvline.com; Prometheus and The Hollywood Reporter have apologized to Penske Media.'"
The Hollywood Reporter maintained a business association with the home entertainment trade publication Home Media Magazine, owned by Questex Media Group. It gave THR access into the home entertainment trade, which Variety similarly enjoyed with its former sister publication, the Reed-owned Video Business.
Current status and legacy
The Hollywood Reporter published out of the same offices on Sunset Boulevard for more than a half century. It is headquartered in L.A.'s Mid-Wilshire district.
The Hollywood Reporter sponsors and hosts a number of major industry events and awards ceremonies. It hosted 13 such events in 2012, including the Women in Entertainment Breakfast, where it announced its annual Power 100 list of the industry's most powerful women; the Key Art Awards (for achievement in entertainment advertising and communications); Power Lawyers Breakfast; Next Gen (honoring the industry's 50 fastest-rising stars and executives age 35 and under); Nominees Night; and the 25 Most Powerful Stylists Luncheon.
Entertainment-industry awards receive ample coverage from The Hollywood Reporter, both in print and online. The magazine handicaps all the races, profiles the contenders and analyzes the business impact of nominations and wins. THR awards analyst Scott Feinberg analyzes and predicts the Emmy and Oscar races (his weekly Feinberg Forecast is published from late August up to the Academy Awards broadcast).
THR also offers special print editions, such as its annual Oscar and Emmy issues, during respective awards seasons. THR.com features The Race, an awards-coverage blog, which encompasses Race to the Oscars, an app dedicated to Academy Awards coverage for iPhone and Android platforms.
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