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Showbiz magazine Daily Variety goes out of print after 80 years

By Steve Gorman and Brandon Lowrey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The venerable Hollywood trade magazine Daily Variety published its last printed edition on Tuesday, ending an 80-year era by beckoning readers to a recently revamped website and announcing plans to launch a new weekly version of the publication.

The glossy magazine, under new ownership since last autumn, bid farewell to its daily paper-and-ink audience in a front-page inset headlined: "VARIETY ANKLES DAILY PUB HUBBUB," using the Variety-coined verb it typically uses to report departures of studio executives.

"This marks the last official print version of Daily Variety, which reported what happened yesterday," the magazine said. "For news of what happened two minutes ago, keep going to Variety.com, which will be updated constantly."

Long considered the bible of the entertainment industry, Variety said it would merge the editorial content and staff of Daily Variety and its weekly international sister publication, known simply as Variety, to form a new weekly printed edition that will debut on March 26 and publish every Tuesday.

Variety said its new weekly publication and the website would continue the daily magazine's insider emphasis on the business of entertainment, with expanded in-depth coverage.

The move reflects forces shaping much of American print-based journalism, as an increasing number of newspapers have either shifted all their content online or stopped publishing a physical edition on a daily basis.

Variety's website was relaunched on March 1 with a new format eliminating the subscription "pay wall" and providing free access to all its content.

In a column titled: "Change will do you good" and celebrating Variety's new era, Timothy Gray, a veteran senior editor, wrote that dropping the daily to focus on weekly and online products should yield economic benefits and improve the overall quality of stories.

"I'm sure some of you will go through withdrawal symptoms without the print Daily," he wrote. "But it's a new world. You either go with it, or else you mourn the death of vaudeville."

NEW PUBLISHER

The Variety.com overhaul and upcoming launch of a new weekly followed the appointments of a new publisher, Michelle Sobrino, and a trio of new editors-in-chief earlier this year after Variety was sold to online publisher Jay Penske and private equity firm Third Point LLC last October.

At the time, sources said the Penske Media Group and Third Point paid about $25 million to acquire the Variety operation from medical and technical publisher Reed Elsevier.

Variety was founded in 1905 in New York as a weekly publication covering the vaudeville circuit and in 1933 spawned Daily Variety in Hollywood, where it grew into the entertainment industry's leading paper of record.

By newspaper standards, Daily Variety had a relatively modest circulation of 30,000 five years ago, when it was first put up for sale by Reed-Elsevier. But the magazine has long been considered compulsory reading for some of the richest and most powerful people in U.S. media and show business.

The magazine has frequently made cameos of its own in television shows and movies, even popping up in the recent Oscar-winning film "Argo."

Its unique brand of entertainment jargon, known as "slanguage," has even crept into the wider popular vernacular after words like "sitcom" and "soap opera" originated in the pages of Variety.

Less familiar outside Hollywood but ubiquitous in Variety's lexicon are such phrases as "to ankle" as a synonym for "to leave" or "exit," and "boffo" for a modifier describing a robust box-office return or ratings.

The final 32-page issue, including the back cover, devoted a dozen pages to a retrospective of Daily Variety.

A May 3, 1945, top headline read, "Studios Work V-E Day," announcing that studios would go about business as usual instead of closing in celebration of the end of World War Two in Europe. Another headline in the issue read, "Hitler's Exit Puts New Life Onto Frisco Stage."

Daily Variety went on to cover the witch-hunt for communists in Hollywood during the Cold War, upheaval in the entertainment industry during the civil rights movement, and the impact of the September 11, 2001, attacks on America by Islamist militants.

(Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)

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