Peter Bart and Variety's Future

Longtime Variety editor Peter Bart was finally replaced last weekend—a move that we (and others) interpreted as Bart being, essentially, stripped of his power to make way for new blood. Not true, he says!

Bart was a power broker as much as an editor, which helped keep him in charge even though he doesn't use those newfangled "computers" and whatnot. He was replaced with Tim Gray—which Bart says was his decision:

"There was a stipulation that I could step down at my 20-year mark if I wanted, and I did," he said on Monday in a telephone interview. Citing his age, Mr. Bart added, "The speculation on these blogs that there are intrigues behind this move is surreal."

The assumption is that Gray will focus on strengthening Variety's online product, as its print edition continues to crumble ("several issues ran a scant eight pages and contained a lone quarter-page ad"). But Gray says he's a believer in print:

Gray said the paper is turning a profit, so there are no immediate plans to shutter the daily or weekly editions in favor of the online version. "Our goal is to give them different identities because they have different audiences," he said.

He echoes this "distinct identity" bit to The Wrap. And let's face it, it makes sense! Gray's main challenge is finding a business model that pays, in US currency; Bart's main challenge now is not to become a caricature of himself, without a huge amount of influence to wield. But any trade mag that can survive the next few years without folding is a winner, to us.