Monday, April 7, 2008

"21st Century Hollywood Reporter"

Elizabeth Guider, Editor
Hollywood Reporter

The Hollywood Reporter Getting
Ready For Redesigned Format
Tells Entertainment Publicists
No More Self Serving Stories

By George McQuade, West Coast Bureau

“We are going to have a new look to our paper, and much more clearer,” said Editor Elizabeth Guider, Hollywood Reporter, at a recent (March 20, 2008) Entertainment Publicists Professional Society (EPPS) media workshop at ICG Publicists conference room in Hollywood.

Guider, who noted that the Hollywood Reporter has seen double digit growth since she came on board lead a panel of how publicists can best work with them. Guider was joined by TV Editor, Nellie Andreeva and Film Editor, Greg Kilday and the session was moderated by Hanna Pantle, AVP, Corporate and Media Relations at BMI.

“We are about serving the reader, said Guider who joined the Hollywood Reporter in August 2007 as Editor and since then the paper has launched an East Coast edition, made enhancements to its Web site including several new blogs and has introduced an Asia-centric separate site for entertainment stories related to that region.

Nellie Andreea & Elizabeth Guider

Elizabeth's team is now about to unveil a totally new look for the paper, which will include several new elements. Before joining the Hollywood Reporter, Guider spent 15 years with Variety and worked as a reporter and an editor in Europe as well as in New York and Los Angeles.

“We want to bring the paper into the 21st century.” Readers want humor, insight, news, and analysis. No more “How thrilled everyone is…”. Expanding the front pages so there are less jump pages. Pacing is quicker. More thought going into the stories upfront. More features that explain how things work, or have an interesting back-story. “We belong to the Nielson Company – they have vaults of data so we’d like to do more stories that relate to the data.”

The Hollywood Reporter is a daily M-F, and Friday’s edition is called the International Weekend Edition making that edition the one that will be read overseas, where guider says has grown to 14 writers. There is now a New York edition with more stories about what’s happening on the East Coast and Bureau Chiefs in London and Beijing. Guider said it is different from the Los Angeles print edition and she notice when visiting corporate offices in New York the Hollywood Reporter was rarely seen in the waiting room. That has since changed. Their website continues to grow with even more interplay between the print and online coverage. Already making a major push in Asia with a dedicated website. The paper’s stories have a wide reach beyond the industry being distributed by Reuters at the end of each day.

Elizabeth Guider, Editor

Guider emphasized, “Part of your job is to distinguish the level of importance.” They advised in terms of dealing with the newsroom the morning is really crucial. “We are living in a 24 hour world, deadlines are constant. Get it to us as early as possible.” Andreeva admitted, “We can be cranky, especially if you call in the afternoon. In the morning we’re very mellow.” Pitch it short and succinctly, give us the bullet points, and keep it “newsy”. It helps to, “Let us know if there are people you can make available for the story.” In the longer view they like to be part of an ongoing conversation.

“We have an incredibly talented team at The Hollywood Reporter,” said Guider. “The big goal is to have the paper have a voice that is recognized as the Hollywood Reporter’s voice.”

Need an angle: Rule of thumb for film is when it’s acquired for distribution or gets into a major festival or when a story has a happy ending because that is the Hollywood dream. “We have staff to cover awards and festivals as well as our online staff.” Or start with the person that you have a relationship with and then copy the appropriate person. You can also contact key people saying, “Please relay to the appropriate person.” If it’s a big story keep Guider in the loop.

Greg Kilday, Film Editor

Gregg Kilday is film editor of the Hollywood Reporter. “All of our stories are offered to Reuters, especially the international stories because there is a growing demand on the internet. Readers want to know the insight, the humor and cut to the chase of the story, which is why we will not be covering every story such as who got the job who got thrown out and so on,” he explained. “We preferred email and two minute voicemails are deadly. Publicist attending the Cannes Film Festival should find out which reporters are attending and contact them ahead of time.”

Kilday has been film editor since 2001, and he oversees the papers daily news coverage of the film business. A veteran journalist, Kilday has worked for the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and Entertainment Weekly and has also freelanced for such publications as Premiere, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and Esquire. A native of Boston, he graduated from Harvard College in 1972.

Nellie Andreeva

“Our big goal is to have a voice you can recognize, a Hollywood voice,” said Nellie Andreeva, TV editor, Hollywood Reporter, a position to which she was named in June 2004. “During the Writers Guild of America strike there were people going through the picket lines. We tried to be objective as possible, because we knew there was a lot of coordination to get things down in Hollywood. It was a great learning experience of behind the scenes. It was a big impact on television program and stories we covered, and we’re still finishing stories on the TV side.”

“Fashion can’t be all things to all people,” not Andreeva when asked how to get stories related to fashion in the Hollywood Reporter. “I think the media and entertainment needs to be defined especially when it comes to television. Fashion plays a big role and we are interested in those stories. Showbiz has become much more global. We are going to see much shorter stories and more of them, because Hollywood is one of the global players.”

Andreeva joined the Hollywood Reporter in 2000 as a TV reporter. Before that, she worked as a reporter at Investor's Business Daily and freelanced for Business Week. Andreeva has master’s degrees in journalism and physics from University of Maine and University of Sofia, Bulgaria. “India, Europe and China are power influence and we will be seeing more of those stories in the future.”

“My day begins at the crack of down, because we have 30 correspondents around the world with bureaus in London and Beijing posting stories directly to the Internet,” explained Guider. “We have about 14 writers working the Asian market and we just put up a separate Hollywood Reporter Asian website. If there is a big story brewing it will likely make the paper by 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. International deadlines on Thursday and Friday are the same as New York, which is Thursday morning before noon for Friday editors. The New York printed version has a different feel than the LA version. More East Coast stories. The International Weekend edition features more Q&A’s and more global news,” Guider said.

Guider, Editor Hollywood Reporter

The redesign of the Hollywood Reporter is coming this spring, but “when we are ready,” said Guider. “It will bring the paper into the 21st Century with different and better stories, moving away form just putting the stories wherever in the paper. We want to make sure we have cover what’s important to film readers that they are not already getting in a fun and intelligent way. We will also rethink the front page, the length, tilt of the stories. Not every story will get 15-20 lines. The clips and digest section will run on the inside of the paper on the top of the page. We will not jump very many stories to other pages. A recent Wall Street Journal survey found only 2.3 percent of the readers read jump stories, noted Guider.”

Inside secret for pitching editors: Pitch Film Editor Kilday, but cc Guider, too, and ditto for pitching TV stories to Andreea, because Guider wants to know, too. After your email pitch follow-up with a short phone call t ensure the right person got your info.

Additionally, stories of weirdness, originality, or buzz at a Sundance will like get more attention, such as the most view piece on YouTube. Anything local, that gets picked up by a major distributor should be pitched. And even thought the news release has not been signed off by everyone at Disney, the panel suggests publicist give editors an early heads up like the day before that a major announcement is coming. And of course The Hollywood Reporter editors love exclusives.

All the editors and writers prefer an email pitch first, and a follow-up call later, especially if it is a big story. Mornings are the best time to pitch stories.
Email Elizabeth Guider at:
Nellie Andreeva at:
Greg Kilday at:

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