Variety’s Schneider Joins TV Guide as L.A. Bureau Chief

TV editor becomes the latest to leave the paywalled trade

Michael Schneider has become the latest veteran reporter to leave Variety, announcing Wednesday on his Twitter feed that he is joining TV Guide magazine as L.A. Bureau Chief.

TV Guide has confirmed that announcement.

Schneider has been with Variety since 1999 and has had the title of TV editor for the duration of that tenure.

"Michael is widely respected in the industry and has a rich background covering television news as well as the business side, added TV Guide editor-in-chief Debra Birnbaum. "He loves television as much as we do and has a great understanding of the true, passionate TV fan."

Certainly, Schneider has been one of the more sought-after entertainment-business reporters, fielding numerous recent offers.

TV Guide was purchased by technology company Macrovision in 2008 to acquire its listing technologies. Macrovision then sold the company's digital publishing arm, TV Guide Online, and TV channel to Lionsgate for $225 million, before unloading the magazine for $1 to Beverly Hills private equity company OpenGate.

So why leave Variety for TV Guide, another venerable publication that has struggled with re-invention in the digital age?

“I’ve been collecting TV Guides since I was six years old,” Schneider told TheWrap. “I’ve even got old TV Guide covers framed, on my wall, at home. In many ways this is the culmination of a 30-year love affair with the TV Guide brand. I love Variety, and wasn’t looking to leave. But I’ve been impressed with editor Debra Birnbaum’s commitment to bringing a newsier focus back to the magazine, and also thought the consumer space would present a new, fun challenge.”

As for Variety, it's been one step forward and two steps back, as the downsized trade pub looks to gain momentum amid increased competition from new digital rivals and a re-invigorated Hollywood Reporter.

Last month, longtime film reporter Pam McClintock left Variety to take on the Reporter's box office beat.

The trade received some good news two weeks ago, when it managed to pry away Josh Dickey from TheWrap, putting him in a film-editor role and charging him with developing a largely untested stable of young promoted interns.

But the Schneider departure puts Variety back to square one in the TV game, and it's not like the business is rife with on-par replacements.

Last month, for example, the Hollywood Reporter lost its top TV reporter, James Hibberd, who left for Entertainment Weekly … and sought to replace him with Schneider, who turned them down.

The Reporter has yet to announce a replacement for Hibberd.

With Schneider's departure, Variety still has TV-reporting wherewithal in the form of deputy editor Cynthia Littleton and chief TV critic Brian Lowry, both longtime TV-business scribes.

Ratings specialist Rick Kissell also remains, as do features editors Jon Weisman and Stuart Levine.