More Trouble at THR: Beckman Pushed Aside for Finkelstein, Beckman Responds (Updated)

Chairman and investor Jimmy Finkelstein will take over day to day operations at the trade group

In another sign that things are not going well at The Hollywood Reporter, CEO Richard Beckman has been pushed aside from running the day to day operations of Prometheus Global Media, which owns the trade along with Billboard, AdWeek and Backstage.

Beckman has been in the position that was created for him since early 2010.

According to an internal memo, he is surrendering the day-to-day operations to Chairman Jimmy Finkelstein, who initially recruited him for the job.

In a memo quoted in the New York Post, Beckman told his staff that he will be leaving his post to create a new division focused on branded entertainment, and that Finkelstein will take over day to day operations.

In the memo Beckman said he is "going to create a new division of Prometheus that will focus entirely on our brand development globally as well as building a world-class branded entertainment unit. To this end, for the next few months, I have asked our chairman, Jimmy, to lend support to me in the day-to-day running of Prometheus to enable us to build out this very high-potential segment of our business."

That sounds like major spin, even with Beckman retaining the CEO title. The news comes on the heels of THR publisher Lori Burgess being pushed aside in favor of Lynne Segall, a veteran of trade advertising.

Read also: Lynne Segall Dumps Jay Penske, Nikki Finke for Hollywood Reporter 

Reached by TheWrap, Beckman denied that he would be pushed out as CEO, as the New York Post wrote on Friday, quoting an insider speculating, "He will exit formally in a respectable period."

Said Beckman; "I am the CEO, I was the CEO and I will continue to be the CEO."

He declined to comment on Burgess's replacement by Segall, but said that digital and print ad revenue was up by 52% since the trade's relaunch as a weekly eight months ago.

He added that while consumer advertising is not "what we'd hoped for" when they started, the company has won $3 million in new ad revenue from the consumer segment.

He would not comment on Prometheus's profitability, but said THR was in profit.

Still, the glossy weekly has had inconsistent advertising in a tough economy, and lately has veered more toward lower-cost production and trade ads.

At the recent Comic-Con convention, THR put out a glossy magazine related to movie fandom without a single ad in it. It has also taken to doing themed issues, such as the most recent "Philanthropy Issue." (Update: I've now seen that issue and it is a gooey exercise in Hollywood sef-congatulation, unlikely to appeal to anyone apart from the moguls photgraphed in it by the dozen. That one too has very few ads.)

Calls to Prometheus went unreturned and Finkelstein did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The Hollywood Reporter has been a high-stakes gamble from the beginning, and the bet largely rested on Beckman’s relationships with luxury brands and their Madison Avenue marketing chiefs.

Beckman’s moving aside is a tacit acknowledgement that those relationships have not succeeded in getting the big-ticket advertising that it needed to sustain expensive hires like Janice Min, who edits THR.

Beckman has been on the job since Finkelstein and Guggenheim partner Todd Boehly lured him over from Conde Nast. Beckman had been at Conde Nast 24 years, and his time there included stints as publisher of Vogue and president of the Conde Nast media group.

Finkelstein along with the private equity firm Guggenheim Partners are the major investors in Prometheus.

Finkelstein also owns the Washington insider publication The Hill.