Starting with the March 26 issue, Variety readers will see a revitalized weekly publication, part of a major expansion of Variety under Jay Penske, chairman and CEO of Penske Media Corp., and Michelle Sobrino, newly installed Variety publisher.
Claudia Eller, Cynthia Littleton and Andrew Wallenstein were tapped Feb. 26 as the new editors-in-chief of Variety, and will oversee 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 heading up other special projects, such as the recent violence-and-entertainment issue.
Variety has also promoted Steven Gaydos to VP and executive editor, giving him expanded duties overseeing all editorial for features, events, creative partnerships, custom publishing and other special projects.
The installation of Eller and Littleton marks the first time in the news org’s history that women have served in the top editorial role.
“Throughout its 100-plus years, Variety has been led by remarkable journalists dedicated to covering the entertainment business in an informative and entertaining way,” says Sobrino. “We are so thrilled to have Claudia Eller, Cynthia Littleton and Andrew Wallenstein continue that tradition and lead Variety through its next evolution.”
After several years, the Variety.com paywall was eliminated March 1, simultaneous with the debut of a newly designed, technologically advanced site. The easy-to-navigate, easy-to-search site 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,’ ” says Penske. “It was an interesting experiment that didn’t work. We look forward to welcoming back longtime Variety readers.”
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,” says 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,” says 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. 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.
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 Intl., 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 U. 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 TV 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.