Gathering Moss

Gotham's weekly raids Times in effort to cast wider net

While it was owned by tightfisted publisher Primedia, New York magazine was the preeminent place to go to find a restaurant serving sea urchin or the best gastroenterologist on the Upper East Side. The weekly, with its shrinking showbiz coverage, was not a Hollywood player.

But with a new owner, Bruce Wasserstein, and editor, Adam Moss, New York magazine is prone to claim much more of that territory as its own, potentially marking one of the biggest seismic shifts to hit the New York media world in years.

Wasserstein, the new, deep-pocketed Wall Street dealmaker who bought the publication last December for $55 million, has family ties to showbiz: his sister Wendy Wasserstein is a Broadway playwright. And his first move was to lure Moss from his perch as cultural czar at the New York Times.

Overseeing the New York Times Magazine, Moss made the Sunday supplement a must-read on both coasts. To cite just one instance, many credit Lynn Hirschberg’s Times Magazine profile of Sofia Coppola last August with providing “Lost in Translation” a crucial early boost in its Oscar campaign.

Wasserstein has given Moss, who started at New York magazine only in March, the budget to make some new hires. A spokeswoman says the magazine plans, “a number of exciting additions to the staff in the coming weeks and months.”

So far, the first on board is Hugo Lindgren, features editor at New York Times Magazine, now the deputy editor of New York. Moss also was reportedly in talks with Frank Rich, the Times culture columnist, about joining New York. Though prying Rich away from the Times would be a coup for Moss, and provide the magazine with a booming editorial voice in the entertainment world, the move seems unlikely to happen for now.

But even if no one else from the Times follows Moss to New York (Ariel Kaminer, a Times Magazine editor, was publicly admonished after her byline popped up in New York), the biggest factor making a media realignment possible is that Moss left the New York Times in the lurch as it was in the midst of retooling its own cultural coverage. When Moss quit, he had just finished drafting a plan to reorganize the paper’s culture department. Now that he’s gone, it’s not clear who will be in charge of that effort.

For close observers of Gotham’s media world, following what happens next in this drama may be the best show in town.

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