Whatever Hitfix was before or seems to be now, the owners want more. They don’t want to be a fanboy site — that’s too “niche.” They want to be big…big like Buzzfeed…big big BIG! And that meant dumping anyone who was clinging to any kind of attitude about Hitfix being a hip insider site for film lovers and award-season assessors. And so three months ago Variety‘s Kris Tapley bailed on/was cut loose from Hitfix because, as I’d been told and subsequently expressed, his In Contention column was seen by Hitfix honchos as “too hip and upscale to appeal to the knuckle-draggers they’re now looking to focus on.” And then Dan Fienberg and Katie Hasty left. And now Hitfix co-founder Gregory Ellwood, who accepted a demotion to roving junketeer and interviewer a while back, has also jumped ship.
Four or five hours ago Ellwood posted the following on Facebook: “Obviously nothing lasts forever, and HitFix is currently going in a different direction. It’s not a bad path, just not the one I would have chosen. [So] after millions of visitors, thousands of stories and cropping way too many photos in photoshop for someone with the title of Editor-in-Chief, I’m officially leaving HitFix. Yes, as they say on my favorite reality TV ‘competition’ show it’s time to sashay away. I’ll no longer be ‘Mr. HitFix.'”
After Telluride and Toronto, Ellwood means. He’ll be covering both festivals for the site and then moving on.
“I wish I was also announcing a new venture or a new position at another company, but that’s not the case,” Ellwood continues. “I’m back on the market. After TIFF I’m hoping to find some freelance assignments, but while I figure out what’s next I will continue to post my awards season and general industry musings on this spiffy new interim site, AwardsCampaign.com. [And] if things go badly and I show up as your Uber driver at some point just rate me five stars, O.K.?”
After I posted the Tapley-is-leaving piece last June a Hitfix guy sent me an email accusing me of having posted “a factually inaccurate piece about HitFix and [one that] takes some cheap shots at us that weren’t true.” Uh-huh, okay, whatever.