Blogger Wars: Variety vs. Entertainment Blogosphere
By ROBERT W. WELKOS
The war between “Variety” and the entertainment blogosphere is heating up. “Los Angeles Times” film columnist Patrick Goldstein reports that the Hollywood trade publication “Variety” isn’t pleased getting scooped day in and day out on casting decisions by upstart online outfits.
“My sources at a number of different studios say that “Variety” Editor Tim Gray and various entertainment reporters at the trade have been telling publicity execs that if they give casting scoops to any of Variety’s online competition, the paper won’t run their big announcement stories in print, relegating them to online posts only,” Goldstein writes. “When I spoke to Gray, he acknowledge the new policy, saying: ‘We simply said that if you give any of these show business websites the story first, then we’ll put the story on the Web, for the record, but we won’t put it in the print edition.'”
Goldstein said he assumed the policy was aimed at Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood, “because the Web’s hot-headed gossip queen had hired away top “Variety” reporter Mike Fleming and has regularly trashed the trade’s too-little, too-late coverage, frequently boasting about how often she beats “Variety” to scoops. But Gray insists the directive applies to “any site that reports showbiz news, which presumably includes The Wrap, Vulture or the host of film-related blogs at my own paper.”
HollywoodNews.com spoke with a PR chief at one of the major studios today who said that the larger problem for consumers of entertainment news is the accuracy of information being leaked.
“Everybody is lowering the standard of what used to be reported,” the studio publicist said. “Every day it seems to get lower and lower what seems to be picked up.” He said it’s “very hard for the consumer seeing these things on line and figuring out what is true and what is not.”
But for Variety to think that it can force studios to comply is naïve, the publicist continued.
David Poland, who writes The Hot Blog at the Movie City News website, writes that “two minutes is about the length of an ‘exclusive’ these days. And 95% of movie industry news starts – and often ends – with the “news” being “fed to an outlet.” Same as it’s been for decades… only those outlets are no longer just The Trades, the LAT, the NY Times, or Geek Site A, B or C.”
Goldstein quoted one studios PR chief as saying of Variety’s stance: “It’s a terribly analog way of thinking in a digital world. It’s just a totally unrealistic response, since if we’ve learned anything about the flow of information these days, it’s that it gets out in all sorts of uncontrollable ways. The minute we have a meeting or make a decision, it’s up on someone’s blog. We’re not the announcer anymore. We’re the responder to what someone’s already written. All we can do most of the time is damage control.”