September 3, 1930; 86 years ago (1930-09-03)
The Hollywood Reporter (THR) is a multi-platform American digital and print magazine founded in 1930 and focusing on the Hollywood motion picture, television, and entertainment industries, as well as Hollywood's intersection with fashion, finance, law, technology, lifestyle, and politics.
- Early years
- Hollywood blacklist
- Ownership changes
- Editors and publishers
- On the web
- Editors and reporters
- 2010 relaunch
- Deadlinecom lawsuit
- Current status and legacy
- Awards season
- Competition with Variety
Headquartered in Los Angeles, THR is part of the Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group, a group of properties that includes Billboard and SpinMedia. It is owned by Eldridge Industries, a holding company owned by an executive of its previous owner, Guggenheim Partners.
Under Janice Min, a faltering THR was relaunched in 2010 as a weekly large-format print magazine with a revamped, continuously updated website, as well as mobile and tablet editions.
THR 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 ran the THR until his death in September 1962, although his final column appeared 18 months prior.
From the late 1930s, Wilkerson used THR 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.
Wilkerson's wife, Tichi Wilkerson Kassel (1926–2004), took over as publisher and editor-in-chief when her husband died. She sold the paper on April 11, 1988, to Affiliated Publications, parent company of Billboard Publications, for $26.7 million. Robert J. Dowling became THR president in 1988 and editor-in-chief and publisher in 1991.
Dowling brought in Alex Ben Block as editor in 1990, and editorial quality of both news and specials steadily improved. Block and Teri Ritzer dampened much of the rah-rah coverage and cronyism that had infected the paper under Wilkerson. After Block left, former film editor at Variety, Anita Busch, was brought in as editor between 1999 and 2001. Busch was credited with making the paper competitive with Variety. Tony Uphoff assumed the publisher position in November 2005. The Reporter was acquired, along with the rest of the assets of VNU, in spring 2006 by a private equity consortium led by Blackstone and KKR, both with ties to the conservative movement in the United States.
Uphoff was replaced in October 2006 by John Kilcullen, the 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." 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.
THR was bought by the Dutch publishing consortium Verenigde Nederlandse Uitgeverijen in 2006. In January 2007, VNU was purchased by a private equity consortium and renamed The Nielsen Company, whose properties include Billboard, AdWeek and A.C. Nielsen. Under its new leadership, Nielsen is reported to have made a US$5 million investment in THR.
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 Congressional Journal the Hill, acquired The Hollywood Reporter from Nielsen Business Media. It pledged to invest in the brand and grow the company. Richard Beckman, formerly of Condé Nast, was appointed the new company's CEO. Since January 2014, The Hollywood Reporter has been led by co-presidents Janice Min and John Amato.
Guggenheim Partners announced on December 17, 2015 that the Prometheus media properties would be spun out to its executive Todd Boehly.
Editors and publishers
THR's editors have included Janice Min (2010–present), Elizabeth Guider (2007–2010), Cynthia Littleton (2005–2007), Howard Burns (2001–2006), Anita Busch (1999–2001) and Alex Ben Block (1990–1999).
In April 2007, industry veteran Eric Mika was named to the newly created role of Senior Vice President, Publishing Director of The Reporter. Having previously served as Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Nielsen Business Media's Film and Performing Arts Group and, before that, as Vice President and Managing Director for Variety, Mika assumed responsibility for the general management of sales, marketing and editorial for The Hollywood Reporter, as well as the brand's ancillary products, events, licensing business and partnerships.
In June 2007, Rose Einstein, former Vice President, Advertising Sales for Netflix and 25-year veteran of Reed Business Media, was named to the newly created role of Vice President, Associate Publisher to oversee all sales and business development for The Reporter. Mika left The Hollywood Reporter in early 2010.
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. After nearly running the publication into the ground, Guider left The Hollywood Reporter in early 2010.
In April 2010, Lori Burgess was named publisher of The Hollywood Reporter. Burgess had been publisher of OK! magazine since October 2008. Michaela Apruzzese was named associate publisher, entertainment, of The Hollywood Reporter in May 2010. Apruzzese served as the director of movie advertising for Los Angeles Times Media Group.
In May 2010, Janice Min was named Editorial Director. In January 2014, she was promoted to President/Chief Creative Officer with additional oversight of THR's sister brand, Billboard. Lynne Segall, a former vice president and associate publisher at The Hollywood Reporter, was named publisher and senior vice president of the outlet 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.
On the web
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 Daily Variety took to the web. 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
The Hollywood Reporter has a staff of roughly 150. In addition to hiring Eric Mika, Rose Eintstein and Elizabeth Guider, the Reporter hired the following staff in 2007:
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."
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.
The 2010 relaunch of The Hollywood Reporter under then-CEO Richard Beckman was closely chronicled by the national media. After purchasing THR from Guggenheim Partners and Pluribus Capital in 2010, Beckman recruited Min, the former editor-in-chief of Us Weekly, to "eviscerate" the existing daily trade paper and reinvent it as a glossy, large-format weekly magazine.
The 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". "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 2011, Deadline.com, 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.'"
Current status and legacy
The Hollywood Reporter published out of the same offices on Sunset Boulevard for more than a half century. Today, the offices are located 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.
Competition with Variety
In March 2007, The Hollywood Reporter surpassed Variety to achieve the largest total distribution of any entertainment daily.
Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter both are located on Wilshire Boulevard along the well-trafficked "Miracle Mile". Staffers often migrate between the papers. Variety was long established as an entertainment trade paper in vaudeville circles, Tin Pan Alley and in the Theater District of New York City, but it was The Hollywood Reporter that began covering the developing film business in Hollywood in 1930. Variety did not start its Hollywood edition until 1933.
The Hollywood Reporter maintains a business association with the home entertainment trade publication Home Media Magazine, which is owned by Questex Media Group. The alliance includes an exchange of stories when the need arises, and gives The Reporter access into the home entertainment trade, which Variety enjoys with its sister publication, the Reed-owned Video Business.