Kris Tapley isn’t admitting this in so many words, but his sage industry-centric column, In Contention, has been cut loose at Hitfix, which has been dumbing itself down and cranking up the fanboy content in attempts to increase traffic and profitability. The owners of Hitfix have been unsuccessful in attempts to sell the site and so, a source says, they’ve been “cutting the fat” to make it as attractive as possible to buyers. I’m told that they’d come to regard Tapley’s column as too hip and upscale to appeal to the knuckle-draggers they’re now looking to focus on.

Tapley’s contract had ended and he’d allegedly stalled in re-upping for some reason. I’m told he’d met with Variety‘s Claudia Eller to discuss some kind of adoption or alliance. The Hitfix honchos told Tapley a week or two ago that they’d “decided to go in a different direction, this is what we’re doing, we’re not doing award-centric coverage any more…thanks a lot,” as a source puts it.

Somebody else might be talking to Kris or vice versa but right now his best shot is to either (a) re-start In Contention as a stand-alone site like Hollywood Elsewhere or Awards Daily or (b) become an Oscar-season-guy-for-hire with the L.A. Times or whomever.

Tapley’s version: ” When we came here HitFix was an evolving brand. It was a destination for broader audiences but, with various trade dabbling and acquisitions, it was also a great destination for industry readership. I liked that hybrid personality. It was fresh and exciting to me. But philosophies shift. As such, HitFix has made a decision to move out of the awards business and focus on its consumer audience, while I’ve made a decision to seek out a more proper fit, where I can provide the best possible coverage of this sector going forward. I wish the talented and vibrant crew here the best, but it’s time for me — for us — to move on.”