Howard Burns, editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter, unknown to probably 99% of HE’s readership, has packed his bags and left the room. L.A. Observed wrote that he said to the staff at a meeting yesterday, “If I told you this was voluntary, I’d be lying.” Burns was, in fact, whacked by THR publisher John Kilcullen for the same reason that lions who’ve moved in on a new lioness usually kill her cubs so make way for their own brood.
Publisher/editorial director Robert Dowling made Burns editor after Anita Busch resigned in May 2001. Several months ago Burns was named editorial director so Cynthia Littleton could be made editor — she’s been running things at THR for some six months.
After Dowling left the paper a year ago due to illness, Tony Uphoff, his second-in-command, was named publisher. The Dutch-owned VNU, which owns the Reporter, was sold to a consortium of investors after this. The investors hired a guy from GE named David Calhoun to take over the list of properties — including A.C. Nielsen and several trade papers (including THR and Billboard) and trade shows. The star and cash cow is the Hollywood Reporter, but ad sales didn’t meet projections last year so heads had to roll. Bob Krakoff (formerly with Reed Business) replaced Mike Marchesano as head of VNU business, and he replaced Uphoff with VNU veteran Kilcullen, who has turned Billboard around. So Kilcullen is the new publisher and he’s reorganizing his team.