Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Variety's old blood, new blood and bad blood

Variety has named Timothy Gray, a 22-year veteran of the entertainment-business publication, as editor.
But that won't be enough to get Gray an invitation to Variety's Centennial celebration, according to the New York Times. Variety's founding family is hosting a giant bash at Sardi's next month to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the magazine. But no one hired after 1987 is invited. Not Gray, not editor-in-chief Peter Bart, not anyone.
The host of the party is Syd Silverman, the 73-year old grandson of Variety's founder. Silverman sold the magazine in 1987, and he's inviting only those folks who worked at the publication when it was run by his family. That's unfortunate...but probably not unexpected. B2B media is full of formerly family-run publications. And my experience has been that the culture clash between big media and family-run companies can lead to bitterness that lasts for years.
But what's interesting to me about the Variety party is how gracious the company's present owners are about all this. Reed Business has given its blessing to the bash, even allowing Silverman to use the trademarked Variety logo. I dare say that such a sophisticated approach to public relations and such an adult way of handling a difficult situation is a rarity in publishing.
Longtime readers of this blog know that I am not a fan of Variety. But I have to congratulate Reed and Variety for acting with such aplomb.

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1 comment:

  1. There is limited space available for ex-Variety muggs and spouses from around the world; plus the crew and spouses who once toiled at the paper's print shop in Valley Stream, NY. I think the post-Silverman hires were the place to make the cut. Besides, the upstairs room at Sardi's where the party is to be held, is the site where in 1987 Cahners' execs told 86 Variety workers "your jobs are safe." They were right---the only problem was we didn't have them any more. As a former managing editor, I look forward to breaking bread with co-workers and often friends from my sign-on as a stringer in 1964. I can't say I'd welcome the dinner---or even show up---were the Cahners folk, and those who replaced us at Variety, to be part of the ceremony. Sure, Reed-Elsevier was "gentlemanly" about allowing Syd Silverman the use of the local. How would they have looked had they said no? It was after all Syd's grandma Hattie, wife of founder Sime, who created the logo.

    Frank Meyer Variety 1964-1990

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