Now that Jay Penske has purchased Variety there's a can't-help-ourselves rumor that Bonnie Fuller, who currently edits his site Hollywoodlife.com, will take it over, pitting her against both Deadline.com's very-volatile Nikki Finke as well as her former Us Weekly sidekick and successor Janice Min who's now the savior-editor of The Hollywood Reporter.
"[T]he hottest rumor out of La-La-Land is that Bonnie Fuller, now editing Penske’s Hollywoodlife.com, will land the top Variety job," writes the New York Post's Keith Kelly, who doesn't really say who's saying that. Which is probably why he followed up with, "It looks like a long shot. However, many insiders would not be surprised to see an exit of current editor-in-chief Tim Gray." We would also not be surprised to see if all these rumors turn out to be rotten.
But what makes this rumor hot for media gossips like Kelly is Penske's blurry plans (tearing down the publication's paywall sounds like his first step) for the 107-year-old Variety. The biggest question after the announcement that he is buying the title has been what this means for the other Hollywood trade Penske owns: Deadline.com—the Finke-run, competitor/doom-bringer to Variety. Variety may have the storied old media name but it has never fully embraced new media. According to The New York Times's Brooks Barnes its website gets 320,000 monthly unique visitors compared to 2.4 million for Deadline. It would seem that Penske, who also owns Movieline.com, the online reincarnation of a defunct monthly magazine, plans to bring some web savvy to his newest purchase. But it's also still a print business.
And that's where Fuller could come in. She created the whole celebrity glossy gossip genre of magazines when she relaunched Us Weekly for Jann Wenner (Gwyneth Paltrow called her "the devil"). After she dramatically signed a $1 million contract after a year at Us and then promptly bolted for American Media to relaunch Star her deputy Janice Min took over and successfully ran Us for the next seven years. Two years ago, Min moved to Los Angles to take charge of saving, revitalizing and making The Hollywood Reporter into something worth reading again after the loss of advertisers and layoffs left it wheezing and close to death.
So yeah, Fuller at Variety could possibly set up a made-for-Hollywood story of three talented female editors squabbling over whose exclusive went up first, who's manipulating time stamps, who's calling for hit pieces, and eventually ending in an all out brawl. In pitch-speak it would be Mean Girls meets The Devil Wears Prada. But that's getting ahead of ourselves and we're not sure if we like it. Oh, Keith Kelly, see what you've done?