Janice Min's Hollywood Reporter: A Bitchy Switch

Janice Min's Hollywood Reporter: A Bitchy Switch

The new editor at the Reporter has shifted to a nastier, more celebrity-focused tone, jarring those more accustomed to a friendlier trade paper

Who’s the bitch now? Taking a page from her reign at Us Weekly, Janice Min has been making her presence felt on the Hollywood Reporter website.

Many inside the industry were shocked at a lead story on Tuesday that felt like a broadside against the generally liked Jennifer Aniston:

“’Switch’ a Bitch for Jennifer Aniston” read the headline, above a story that criticized the movie’s underperformance, but then backtracked to say it “wasn’t necessarily a setback” to her career.

That came on the heels of a scandalous — and little substantiated — story about ABC chief Steve McPherson's alleged incidents of sexual harassment on the job, and threats by debt-encumbered financier David Bergstein, who was angered by the coverage of his situation and has also promised to sue.

Much of this is jarring to an industry accustomed to a softer, friendlier (though not widely read) trade paper.

“They’re in areas that are very dicey for a trade publication,” said one prominent publicist, who would not speak for the record and has had a run-in with the publication over a client.

He wasn’t the only one. Aniston’s publicist, Stephen Huvane, acidly wrote TheWrap that THR’s new tone “is not going over well with me but I can't say it's unexpected. Janice Min doesn't know anything other than tabloid journalism so of course THR will start to look just like the other trash that's out there.”

Min did not return calls or an email for this story.

If the aggressive headlines are meant to spark attention, other August headlines are focusing on warmer, fuzzier celebrity fare, including such articles as:  “Emma Thompson deals with ‘mild depression'” and  “Mary Kate Olsen opens up about early career.”

The flip tone and celebrity focus of THR is a noticeable change since the arrival of Min, the former editor of the celebrity scandal-sheet Us Weekly, where she successfully made the magazine a saucy read. In an interview with TheWrap at the time of her hire, Min said the focus would not be on celebrities:  “I will leave the Lindsay Lohan drama to Us Weekly,” she said. “If I had wanted to continue to do that I would have done it at Us Weekly.”

Clearly she's shifted her thinking. But the question is: Will that approach work in a clubby industry like Hollywood?

For one thing, celeb-slapping doesn't bode well for the back-scratching favors that fuel industry relationships.

THR may have trouble seeking the cooperation of Huvane’s celebrity-rich Slate PR for news tips or cover stories or to get its participation in roundtables, like those THR is attempting to organize for the Toronto Film Festival.

Indeed, Huvane’s reaction was echoed by numerous executives and publicists around the industry. Meanwhile, many still are questioning what the Hollywood Reporter now is — a trade news publication, or a consumer sheet?

“The big question for me is how the Hollywood Reporter brand remains similar in magazine form if it becomes star-driven, not information-driven,” said Tony Angellotti, a veteran publicist. “That’s what gossip is. If she finds a happy medium between a hard-hitting break like Steve McPherson…  and not worry about advertising like Variety – maybe she has something. But she may have to find a whole new set of advertisers.”

The story about McPherson and sexual scandal was the first electric shock to industry insiders. Six months ago, the trade would never have written a story this audacious — and with such thin authentication.

With legal bulldog Marty Singer threatening a lawsuit, the story has not been retracted, but neither has further substantiation emerged.

One individual close to the situation complained that in classic wild-web fashion, the trade did not give McPherson’s side specifics to respond to, or time in which to do so.

“There was a lack of specifics — no names, no places — yet a condemning headline,” said the individual. “And they were going to press in an hour.”

On the heels of that, a story about Casey Affleck being sued by a producer on his Joaquin Phoenix documentary for sexual harassment was the second slap across Hollywood’s face.

The aggressive new tack is also leading to mistakes for a publication not used to breaking stories.

Two months ago, the trade reported in a breaking news alert that the Weinstein brothers had bought Miramax (“Weinsteins to take back Miramax“), which was not the case.

And in late July, the trade reported that former Sen. Bob Kerrey had closed an “all-but-done deal” to chair the Motion Picture Association of America, when in fact he was in the process of backing out of the job offer (which TheWrap reported a few days later).

To many, the trade now feels bifurcated between sensational stories that alienate some core sources and more analytical pieces that have begun to be featured both on the web and on the pages of the print edition.

That seems like part of a move toward the weekly analytical publication that publisher Richard Beckman promised months ago. But the new tone may make the whole thing more complicated to pull off.

“The trades were always the business aspect. I don’t know how people in general respond. But I don’t think people are going to give them legitimate stories. I don’t think they want that association, of being a trade tab,” said one publicist.

Said another prominent publicist, Kelly Bush: “For an industry publication, they’ve got to decide what they are. Are they going for consumers? This is going in that direction, but it’s an industry publication. It certainly seems a little out of place.”

SEE ALSO: New Editor Janice Min Grilled: No Lindsay Lohan in Revamped THR

Beckman: THR Needs to Become a ‘Business-to-Influencer’ Title

  • David

    And TheWrap on the same day leads off with “Michael Cera Couldn't Open an Envelope”, viciously trying to end the kid's career. Thinking of an old proverb about people in glass houses…

  • Guest

    A friend's kid interned at Us Weekly when Min was in charge and told me that interns’ days began by combing TMZ, Perez Hilton and other online tabloids to find stories Us could use. Anyone who reads THR lately sees that Min is employing the same tactic: taking the most salacious existing tabloid stories, adding a titillating and often misleading headline, cribbing a few paragraphs of someone else's work and inserting the link. And then tweeting it. I feel bad for the few remaining solid trade journalists over at THR these days.

  • Rabbitears

    I'm a little surprised that all these salacious stories seem to be written by Kim Masters. Isn't she considered an NPR-branded, level headed reporter – or has she always leaned to the tab side of things?

  • Dupars

    Way to tell it like it is, Sharon. its not the tabloid stuff i mind. What makes me want to puke is all the fluffy celebrity crap THR regurgitates from 276 other media outlets that already reported it, like friggin Olsen Twins talking about their friggin career. Do they actually think their going to get a wider audience with that crap? comeon

  • soggybiscuit

    yes the reporter is becoming a tabloid now, reporting celebrity weddings and divorces, and too many lohan stories now….blah blah

    • Ma'at

      Sadly, most everything is nowadays. I watch almost no news anymore and peruse very few sites.

  • TV101

    You know, this is just too bad. I knew when they hired here it was going to change. I know most in this town prefer Variety. But The Hollywood Reporter has a rich history and if it's going to go down at least go down with some friggen dignity my gosh. They think they're going to make money off this new “focus” ? I will be very surprised if this new direction does anything for them other then put them out to pasture sooner. And honestly I got bored and stopped keeping track of who owns it now – but just shutter the damn thing please. It does have history. It won't make it as US – there are too many of those now – and this happy medium – I just don't see working with the entertainment business community – not that way anyway. It really does bother me historically to see it go down like this. It's as if Paramount started making porn tomorrow…. wait a minute…. hmmmm…

  • Julian Myers

    All The Reporter has to do is let Elizabeth Guider continue to mold it as she deems best for our industry. She has the vision, background and caring to keep her paper needed. Putting three names above hers on the editorial side was insulting and unwarranted. Reinstating the Calendar listings would aid all in participating in our important world.
    Like it or not, the Big Six studios have more influence over the seven billion people in the world than anything else throughout their lives. They see on screens, they see on screens, their concepts are formed.
    Let's retain a daily informant that keeps Hollywood Hollywood.

  • Ma'at

    It's the disease of “news entertainment” perfected by Fox News. For whatever reason, no one thinks we like anything except rampant hostility.

    • Harold Minsky

      It's George Bush, and his minions. It is there fault

  • Comscore

    It's quite a coincidence to see an article like 2 days after COMSCORE REPORTED THR.COM HAS FIVE TIMES THE TRAFFIC THE WRAP GOT IN JULY.

    See for yourself: http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/news/media/e3i3b619fdcfedcfc791359eafaa427ce47

    If THR is “barely read,” what does that make The Wrap: nonexistent???

  • AndyWarhorse

    I like dem Chinese chicks. Dis one looks hot. I tink since we makes trash, we should reads trash. An what, you ain't gonna eat Chinee takeout today? Dey better keep da charts, doh. Da ting is, who cares about Aniston? Ain't she like 56 years olt?

  • http://twitter.com/sproutsjj Sheri Jennings

    Can't we all just get along?

  • MS. Huffington to you!

    and you people dumped that funny Jewish lady reporter! HA! Betcha she gets picked up soon and you will regret dumping the funniest and best thing you HAD! Stop trying to be Arianna Huffington..all the STARBUCKS money can't buy you THAT place!

  • E5doesntcare

    I work at THR and can tell you that when the Min Dynasty was announced, people began leaving left and right. I'm all for increasing revenue, but their journey to the classless has made people leave them during one of the worst times to find a job in the last 50 years. That speaks for itself. They want the hits and revenue of Us Weekly and they're willing to roll in the mud to do it. Way to go, Minny.

  • Len Goldenson

    Wow – when The Wrap was launched, I kept reading how the trades were wimpy, spineless tools of the agents and studios. Now that one of them is becoming a livelier read, The Wrap gives a platform to publicists, of all people, to complain about it. A little transparent don't you think?

  • Nascar Sux

    The Reporter has been bought out so many times it's redundant to count ‘em up. Add to that: too many prior publishers without a solid vision; too many parent companies involved without an understanding of publishing; a business unit still in place that cried recession and cut the staff to shreds before the real recession hit while slacker hacks took home five figures with no real skills other than hiding under the safest, peachiest pair of testicles while the scythe swung. Teabag city. There are good people still there–the remaining heartbeat of a trade that was proud and broke news. I remember, I was there. Good luck to them!

  • Santamonicabeachboy

    There was some good inside information in the Jennifer Aniston article, i.e., Jennifer calling the head of marketing, etc. Loved learning more behind the scenes details. It's the movie industry's equivalent of baseball's “The Club” or football's “Hard Knocks” series. Keep it coming, Editor Min !!

  • Doug From Bryn Mawr

    outside of THE WRAP there is no other Hollywood Journal WORTH reading . . .
    totally
    (and that's a statement)
    –The Wrap is probably “The Youngest” and people have yet to realize The Wrap's worth.

    The Wrap is one of my homepages even: I read the Wrap every day I go online.

  • bakiyetemel

    thanks bro. nice post It's the disease of “news entertainment” perfected by Fox News. For whatever reason, no one thinks we like anything except rampant hostility. http://yenimoda.blogspot.com/

  • Factchecker

    Maybe the most ridiculous sentence I have ever read: “For one thing, celeb-slapping doesn't bode well for the back-scratching favors that fuel industry relationships.”
    Sharon – you've got your financier Howard S – who knows NOTHING about show business – speaking at this event you're doing. You keep running puff pieces about Ryan K and he is speaking too. Many other examples of the BACK-SCRATCHING you do on this site.
    Let's be honest. After spending millions of investors’ money, the wrap is nowhere – minimal traffic, no real ad revenue and no sustainable business model. Nikki Finke got her payday. THR is revitalized and a major we presence now. And Sharon is being petty and jealous.

  • christian louboutin

    Merci beaucoup de vos idées.

  • Thegrill

    how convenient that THR.com chose not to compare themselves to the 3 biggest entertainment sites… Last time I checked TVGuide.com, EW.com and Eonline were the most visited sites to get your entertainment news!

  • Jessica Jeffcoat

    Interesting…

  • Mike

    “They’re in areas that are very dicey for a trade publication.”

    The only “area” where most trade publications are now is Chapter 7. THR has nothing to lose. This is going to be fun!

  • http://www.abercrombieukstore.com abercrombie

    This is an excellent article — deep, detailed, compassionate, respectful, elegantly written, and a pleasure to read. !

  • Blkhollywood

    I love how some publicists for these coddled stars are complaining about the new direction of the Hollywood Reporter. Maybe entertainment journalists are tired of reporting the bullshit items you send to us about “celebrity x was spotted having dinner at Koi.” Who gives a shit?