The basic thrust of this 3.28 Hollywood Reporter story by Hal Espen and Borys Kit is that Ain’t It Cool News is no longer the big-cheese website it was in the late ’90s and early aughts, at least as far as ad revenue is concerned. The shocker is that last July AICN honcho Harry Knowles found himself in big trouble with the IRS, owing $300 grand in back taxes. Harry gradually managed to get himself out of dutch (glad to hear it), but he’s still scrambling as we speak.
All to say that the bearded, overweight, medically afflicted editor/columnist is no King of the Mountain in today’s realm. But I guess we’ve all known that for years. The curious thing, I’m told by a source, is that the business manager who got Knowles into tax trouble, Roland De Noie, is still in Harry’s employ.
“It was July 2012, and Harry Knowles was working up a sweat,” the story begins. “Eighteen months earlier, the creator-owner-figurehead of Ain’t It Cool News collapsed and had back surgery to treat the effects of spinal stenosis, a chronic condition stemming in part from a 1996 fall that left him intermittently reliant on a wheelchair. So now he was walking on a treadmill at a clinic near his Austin home as part of his physical therapy.
“His phone rang. Still trudging, Knowles answered. It was Roland De Noie, his business manager.
“‘I really f—ed up,’ said De Noie in a panic. ‘It’s all my fault.’ He had discovered that Ain’t It Cool News — the website Knowles started in his Texas bedroom that grew to be the scourge of Hollywood, redefined the nature and pace of entertainment journalism and turned an overweight, ginger-haired self-diagnosed movie nerd into the face of a geek nation on the rise — owed about $300,000 in unpaid taxes.
“While Ain’t It Cool News had been making $700,000 a year in gross advertising revenue at its height in the early- to mid-2000s, that had dipped to the low-six figures by 2012. The business had no cash reserves and no way to pay the bills. Its bank account had been seized. ‘We’re not going to be able to get out of this one,’ said De Noie.”