The deal for Variety is done. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Penske Media, which bought Deadline.com from Nikki Finke, has acquired the 107-year-old showbiz news source and trade publication for a cool $25 million. Penske emerged as the most likely buyer in the deal late last month after a 7-month auction process by Variety's current owner Reed Elsevier, which reportedly had been asking for something in the neighborhood of $30 million for the storied publication. Jay Penske, heir to Penske automotive empire who has built a Hollywood media mini-empire including Deadline, Movieline.com, and HollywoodLife.com, beat out other interested parties, including billionaire Ron Burkle and Avenue Capital which owns the National Enquirer.
"In an interview, Penske said he believed Variety had faltered due to complacency, and that he intended to make it 'absolutely fundamental and indispensable' to its readers in Hollywood," reports the LA Times' Ben Fritz. That, of course, sounds a lot like what Finke has been trying to build at Deadline and the two trades have been trading barbs for years. How exactly will the outlets get along under the same corporate umbrella? Penske told Fritz, "We see an incredible opportunity for future collaboration while remaining editorially independent," and added, "What Nikki has architected at Deadline is simply amazing. To alter or change the chemistry of Deadline would be in our opinion a huge mistake." More of the same, huh? Sounds like Penske doesn't object to a little intramural competition.