'Rolling Stone' Film Critic Peter Travers Fighting for His Job
An offer of diminished status led to an office shouting match with editor & publisher Jann S. Wenner. Meanwhile, "Men's Journal" editor Jason Fine is said to be a front-runner to replace managing editor Will Dana.
A tumultuous restructuring at Rolling Stone could lead to the exit or diminished status of a name-brand writer.
Veteran film critic Peter Travers, whose lively and blurb-friendly reviews have been a favorite of Hollywood studios since he joined the magazine in 1989, was offered a new role as a contract writer, a well-placed source tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Travers is said to have objected to the demotion, which led to a heated argument in the Rolling Stone office between Travers and editor and publisher Jann S. Wenner. "There was yelling and screaming," says the source. Negotiations now are ongoing, but the pay offered for his new contractual role would be deducted from his severance package. "He was told that either way he has to be out of his office next week," the source adds.
Travers' potential move from a staffer to a contributor would follow a round of layoffs in the past month, with more than a dozen editorial and business side employees let go in June, including senior talent at sister publications Us Weekly and Men's Journal. Senior music writer David Fricke was said to be moved to a contract writer role at that time.
Travers did not respond to a request for comment. A Wenner Media spokesperson offered this statement to THR regarding Travers: "I can confirm he is still with Rolling Stone. He is our movie critic now and will continue to be, and he is not leaving the magazine for as far into the future as we can speak."
Travers is one of America's most recognizable critics, writing for the iconic music, politics and pop-culture magazine for over two decades.
His brash reviews are routinely blurbed by Hollywood studios in promotional campaigns and opinions broadcast through ABC's Popcorn With Peter Travers. Travers' influence is widely seen in the industry, where a movie quote from him is still sought after by industry execs and publicity chiefs.
Rolling Stone has made several moves toward restructuring recently. Will Dana, the managing editor at the magazine, officially resigned from his role on Wednesday. Dana spent nearly 20 years at Rolling Stone, was elevated to managing editor in 2005 and continued the tradition of hard-hitting longform feature reporting at the magazine.
Men's Journal editor Jason Fine is said to be a front-runner to replace Dana, a source tells THR.
The magazine's restructuring arrives as it's mired in criticism and a legal battle over a Nov. 2014 University of Virginia campus rape story. The feature, by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, resulted in a full retraction and a Columbia Journalism Review dissection along with a lawsuit filed by graduates at University of Virginia this week. That followed an early May lawsuit by UVA dean Nicole Eramo, who sued for defamation.
Dana's time as editor also included a criticized July 2013 cover image of Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which led some retailers not to carry the issue. (The story itself, by Janet Reitman, was a finalist for a national magazine award, a top honor in the industry.)
“Will is one of the finest editors I have ever worked with,” Wenner said in the Thursday statement on the exit.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.