TMZ founder Harvey Levin is handing his former managing editor title to Josh Dickey (left), who has just resigned as Variety’s film editor to take on the position, Levin exclusively told TheWrap on Saturday. Dickey will take on daily newsroom duties of the tabloid news site to allow Levin and other senior staff to pursue new verticals and television ventures.
"We haven’t had a managing editor in four years," Levin told TheWrap. "We’ve been looking. We wanted to make sure we got it right." Levin, the site's founder, was formerly its managing editor and is now executive producer.
Among the new projects in the works at TMZ include a broadcast network venture, a knowledgeable individual told TheWrap.
Dickey, a veteran hard news talent, is leaping into a brave new world very different from the casting scoops and “ankling” executives that he wrote about at Variety for the past two years. TMZ, which has changed the shape of celebrity news in the age of the web, publishes aggressive scoops that place it in the center of controversy but also often forces traditional news outlets to follow.
The move suggests that Levin, 62, a lawyer-turned-celebrity-journalist who founded the site in 2005 and launched the successful spin-off TMZ on TV on 2007, will be turning to expanding into new ventures. TMZ is owned by Warner Bros's Telepictures.
Dickey was increasingly marginalized at Variety since it was bought by Jay Penske, who made several staff changes on the film team without consulting him and recently named the L.A. Times’ Claudia Eller as the editor-in-chief in charge of film.
Dickey was recruited to Variety two years ago from TheWrap to lead the film team in breaking business stories. Jeff Sneider, a talented reporter covering casting, was recently fired without Dickey’s knowledge or input.
Meanwhile, Variety's first weekly print edition is being completed, and by insider accounts is a sober business read with stippled, Wall Street Journal-like photos of the reporters. Penske has taken an active hand in dictating magazine features and other aspects, throwing editors into a fluster.
Said one insider: "Every section of the book, the buckets, features, was all dictated down to the editors in chief. They’re a little flustered by that."