Richard Johnson to Exit Page Six for News Corp. Digital Venture

Gossip maven to leave New York for Hollywood, but he's not going to the Reporter … at least not yet

Richard Johnson is heading to Hollywood after all.

The New York Post announced on Thursday that Johnson, editor of the world's most famous gossip column for nearly a quarter century, is leaving next month for Los Angeles, where he will “work on new digital ventures” for News Corp., the Post’s parent company.

"I love Page Six and The Post,” Johnson said in a statement, “but I've always wanted to give Los Angeles a try.”

Emily Smith, who was hired away from Life & Style last year to replace Paula Froelich as Johnson’s deputy, will take over.

Johnson was reportedly offered $1 million in July to join the Hollywood Reporter, but Post editor-in-chief Col Allan wouldn’t let him out of his contract.

So is this move merely a prelude to that one, once his contract is up?

I e-mailed Johnson for comment, and will update this post when I hear back.

"Emily is a star and we are thrilled with her reporting, writing and leadership," Allan said in a release. "She is going to be a fixture in this town for a long time to come." Smith was formerly the U.S. editor of U.K. newspaper The Sun.

Of Johnson’s departure, Allan said, "it's bittersweet — Richard is a great friend and we will miss him, but we're excited for him, too."

Allan added: "This is the best gossip column in the world — and it's only going to get better.”