The profitable Variety and the money-losing The Hollywood Reporter are now (or are soon to become) sister publications run by the same outfit.
Variety and Deadline owner Jay Penske (PMC or Penske Media Corp.) has inked a deal with MRC, a media and production company founded by Modi Wiczyk and Asif Satchu, to operate The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard and Vibe under a new shingle called PMRC.
Variety excerpt: “PMC will lead daily operations of an expanded entertainment and music brand portfolio under the PMRC banner that will bring two Hollywood trade institutions under the same roof for the first time. Billboard, Vibe and the Reporter will join PMC’s Variety, Rolling Stone and Music Business Worldwide.
“The second joint venture calls for MRC to use its content production assets — which include Dick Clark Productions — to develop new content and business opportunities drawn from stories and other intellectual property culled from across PMRC brands.”
I asked some folks for a little speculation. “What might actually happen with the merger?”, I wrote. “What do your nerve endings tell you? Whenever companies or publications merge there are always people who get cut loose. Always. And we all know The Hollywood Reporter has been hemorrhaging money for a long time.”
Informed guy #1: “Variety is in excellent financial shape, and THR, as you said, has been hemmhoraging money for a long time. So I would expect that there’ll be changes there. But I think Penske wants to save THR, not kill it. And this, in the long run, is its best chance of being saved.”
Informed guy #2: “I continue to be impressed, even inspired by Jay Penske. Look at the road he’s traveled in little more than a decade.
“That said, the last person who knew how to run THR was Bob Dowling.
“Two very big, expensive, failed regimes later, PMC stands a very good chance of saving The Hollywood Reporter from the wounds inflicted by an array of grandiose characters; some of whom were good, some bad, some absurdly overpraised and overpaid, and all of whom seem to have never bothered to sort out a proper business plan for the Avis of Trades.
“PMC has the business managers and creative leadership to get it back on the road. There are a lot of smart, dedicated, talented people at THR. Could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Informed guy #3: “Not only will some people get cut loose [because of this deal], but why would Penske, in the long term, feel the need to finance two trade publications when one would do? It would be redundant. And not only that, but Wiczyk and Satchu are in film production. Companies that produce and release films should not own and publish the news outlets that review and otherwise comment upon them.
“Everything seems to be imploding and going in the opposite directions from where they should.”