Before firing three of its longtime critics earlier this week, a Variety insider said the trade conducted reader focus groups to determine the cost-benefit of some of its bigger editorial voices.
Given that the perpetually downsizing entertainment pub has already rendered its controversial decision, further reader feedback probably isn’t going to do a world of good. Variety made that clear when it put chief film critic Todd McCarthy and top theater critic David Rooney, among others, out of jobs on the very day the lucrative Academy Awards advertising season culminated.
And sure, it didn’t come fast enough to save the position the venerable McCarthy held for 31 years, but the Facebook group “I Bet I Can Find 1,000 People Who Would Buy a Subscription to Read Todd McCarthy,” launched by former Entertainment Weekly music critic Chris Willman, is now up to 118 members.
“Obviously, the trade had no idea how many people read Variety primarily for (McCarthy’s) trusted voice,” reads the group’s information tag. “This group is made up of people who pledge to pay up and subscribe to whichever publication or web outlet brings McCarthy aboard next.”
Meanwhile, amid a week in which Variety shed another eight employees, and got sued by a movie producer who claims the trade duped him into buying Oscar ads, insiders confirm that the publication’s London-based international editor, Ali Jaafar, has also left the company to pursue a public relations career.
Tough week in the Miracle Mile.
Update: McCarthy did get some good news this week. He has accepted an invitation to join the New York Film Festival’s selection committee at the Cannes Film Festival. Here’s the release.
Other members of the committee are Richard Pena, program director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center; former L.A. Weekly film critic Scott Foundas, associate program director for FSLC; and New York-based film critics Melissa Anderson and Dennis Lim.