Trio to oversee editorial as Variety evolves digital, print offerings
Jay Penske, chairman and CEO of Penske Media Corporation, and Michelle Sobrino, newly installed publisher of Variety, today named Claudia Eller, Cynthia Littleton and Andrew Wallenstein as the new editors-in-chief of Variety, in addition to overseeing coverage of film, television and digital content, respectively.
Tim Gray, who has been with Variety for 31 years, most recently as editor-in-chief, remains in a leadership role, overseeing expansion of international coverage and other special projects such as the recent violence-and entertainment issue.
Variety executive editor Steven Gaydos will continue to direct all editorial aspects of Variety’s feature sections across all platforms and editorial-related events including the “10 To Watch” program.
“Throughout its 100-plus years, Variety has been led by remarkable journalists dedicated to covering the entertainment business in an informative and entertaining way,” said Sobrino. “We are so thrilled to have Claudia Eller, Cynthia Littleton and Andrew Wallenstein continue that tradition and lead Variety through its next evolution.”
The installation of Eller and Littleton as two of the three editors-in-chief also marks the first time in the brand’s storied history that women have served in the top editorial role.
Additionally, Penske and Sobrino announced that the current Variety.com paywall will drop March 1, with the debut of a newly designed, technologically advanced site. The easy-to-navigate, easy-to-search site seamlessly adapts to a reader’s choice of device–from desktop to tablet to smartphone. “Internally, we’ve been referring to the paywall dropping as ‘the end of an error,’” said Penske. “It was an interesting experiment that didn’t work. We look forward to welcoming back longtime Variety readers when the paywall drops March 1.”
The new print edition of Variety debuts March 26, and will be published every Tuesday throughout the year. There will also be an expanded schedule of special editions covering everything from awards season to topical issues confronting the industry, such as January’s stand-alone issue examining violence in entertainment.
“We remain committed to a print edition of Variety and are excited that it will expand in size and scope of coverage,” said Sobrino. “The feedback we got from the industry on our recent ultimate awards season guide and violence and entertainment issue tells us we’re headed in the right direction. We’re excited to deliver dozens of special issues to readers throughout the year.” The current daily print edition of Variety will make its final appearance on March 19. Variety originated as a New York-based weekly publication in 1905, expanding to a Hollywood-based daily edition in 1933.
“When PMC purchased Variety last year, we committed to the digital evolution of this great brand,” said Penske. “We’re accelerating this strategy by heavily investing in our editorial staff, technology, video production and responsive design — all with the goal of providing the best experience for our dedicated readers. Having three editors-in-chief — Claudia, Cynthia and Andrew, each renowned for their coverage of film, television and digital/new media, respectively — is an innovative approach to address the quickly changing media landscape. It is designed to foster collaboration in our coverage of these three core areas of entertainment. We’re also very privileged to have longtime editor Tim Gray, with more than three decades at Variety, remain with us as we expand our coverage of the global entertainment business.”
Eller comes to Variety from the Los Angeles Times, where she spent 20 years as a reporter and editor, most recently serving as entertainment news editor. Eller is among the best known and most respected journalists in the entertainment community. She has been a driving force in the Times’ online and print coverage of showbiz, with particular emphasis on the economic aspects of the film industry and how evolving technologies, consumer habits and new delivery systems are reshaping Hollywood’s business models and impacting decision making at the highest levels.
Before joining the Times, Eller worked as a film reporter for Variety from 1989 to 1993. During that time, Eller launched and penned the widely read Dish column. She also held staff positions at the Hollywood Reporter and On Location magazine.
A graduate of USC, Eller is the recipient of several journalism awards and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and Gerald Loeb Award.
Littleton, who has covered the television beat for the past 20 years, was most recently the deputy editor of Variety. She began her career at United Press International, followed by stints at Broadcasting & Cable magazine, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, where she rose to editor before re-joining Variety in 2007. She is the author of “TV on Strike: Why Hollywood Went to War Over the Internet” (Syracuse University Press, 2013), the definitive account of the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike and the impact of the disruptive digital advancements that fueled the labor strife. She also co-authored with Susanne Daniels “Season Finale: The Unexpected Rise and Fall of the WB Network and UPN” (HarperCollins, 2007).
Wallenstein joined Variety in 2011, and most recently served as television editor, covering both the television and tech industries, with focused coverage on companies at the nexus of entertainment and digital media. He was at The Hollywood Reporter from 2002 to 2010, where he held various top posts including editor of THR.com. Wallenstein has been an on-air contributor for NPR’s “All Things Considered” for nearly a decade and also hosted the TV Guide Channel’s “Square Off,” a weekly primetime series about the TV industry, in 2006-07. He has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and has taught undergraduate journalism at several universities. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe and Business Week.