When I arrived at Variety 15 years ago, the organization was in the process of transitioning between eras — from the 80-plus years of ownership by the family of Sime Silverman to the Variety of today. These two generations are dissimilar in so many ways, and yet, there’s a unique essence that remains. We’ve come to call it “the Variety DNA.”
To explain it in a phrase, it’s Variety‘s “iconoclastic nature,” and never has a business publication so closely fit the industry it covers. For 100 years, Variety has been created by skeptical fans of a business populated with iconoclasts and mavericks. We’ve always wanted you to succeed, but we’ve viewed it as our job to call it as we see it when you don’t.
There have been other entertainment business newspapers to pop up (and often flame out) in the century since we began covering both vaudeville and the burgeoning film business from our original New York perch.
But time has only amplified the distance between “the bible of showbiz” and everyone else on the scene.
Variety‘s iconoclastic nature has worked for so long because, at its best, entertainment has been propelled by creative people who haven’t been comfortable following an established path. From D.W. Griffith and Harry Cohn to William Paley, Lew Wasserman and Francis Ford Coppola, it’s the iconoclast who has so often made entertainment history.
Believe it or not, today’s no different.
Sure, “safe and easy” too often rules. Too often the results wind up as anything from copycat reality shows to sequelitis. But a beating heart of unorthodoxy still pumps through the industry.
Tom Freston’s vision has done more than create the MTV music television icon, it’s imbued an entire studio with its own risk-taking DNA.
Jeff Bewkes truly made HBO the behemoth it is by pursuing the counterculture notion of letting artists do their thing.
Steven Jobs is showing that the marriage of technology and creative genius at Pixar can make gobs of money.
And Harvey will succeed again because of his unyielding belief in his brother and himself. Mr. Weinstein is indeed the poster boy for entertainment unorthodoxy.
From Sime Silverman on through the decades, Variety‘s nonconformist nature has always been the product of its people. And what an amazing and eclectic collection of folks it is. Today, all of us are building on Sime’s bedrock, preserving its nature and spirit, and moving it aggressively into the 21st century. I’m immensely proud to work with the Variety team every day.
Finally, as Variety rounds the 100-year bend, I want to thank both our tremendously loyal readers and advertisers.
In many ways, Variety feels like a hometown paper. You’re not only our constituents, you’re our neighbors, and your creativity, fearlessness and loyalty to the Variety brand has made this great publishing venture survive and thrive for a century.
President & Publisher