Cinemania’s future still cloudy

Microsoft Corp. officials have taken issue with Daily Variety’s report Friday that Microsoft plans to shut down its popular Cinemania World Wide Web site.

On Friday, a company official did however, confirm that a large slice of Cinemania employees were let go. The official did not deny that most of those left would be transferred to other divisions of the software giant’s Interactive Media Group.

In a story published on the Internet by Ziff-Davis’ ZDNet, Joan Morse, managing director for Cinemania and Sidewalk, the Microsoft Network’s site system, confirmed the dismissals. She said that these were the result of “redundancies” between Cinemania’s site content and that of other Media Group offerings, such as the rapidly growing Sidewalk.

In the ZDNet article, Morse did not comment about the folding of Cinemania into Sidewalk, as former employees have suggested, and she insisted that none of those let go were full-time employees.

Neither Morse nor other Microsoft executives would comment, despite repeated calls to the company and its representatives.

Cinemania columnist Leonard Maltin was not pinkslipped as reported Friday, and his contract will be honored. But the duties he will be assigned by Microsoft editors and executives are vague at this point — even to Maltin himself.

Morse also would not comment about the ultimate future or the Cinemania site, nor the CD-ROM title published under the same name and “updated” monthly by the now in limbo Website.

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