We were sad to hear of the passing on April 16 in London of former Variety sales topper and one-time bureau chief John Willis. John had been admitted to a hospital a few days earlier, but then developed pneumonia. He died quickly and peacefully surrounded by members of his family. He was 86.
When I joined Variety in 1965 as a TV-radio reporter and reviewer (my signature was Knol.), the broadcast networks dominated the media landscape. I remember when I was assigned to cover a meeting of the cable TV industry association at the Statler Hilton Hotel. It didn’t even fill a small auditorium. There was plenty of room to spare. Today cable TV is a $94 billion business whose annual confab overflows the Chicago convention center.
Yet another year has elapsed and we have managed to get 16 responses from the muggs, which is unfortunately down considerably from only a year ago. Have the “no shows” simply been too lazy to send a contribution? Have they shuffled off this mortal coil? Will one or two of them come in after deadline? Or maybe they have just changed their email addresses and are now lost in cyberspace.
Among this year’s “missing” are Alderman, Daley, Fainaru, Grantham, Evans, Kruger, Rosovsky, Stenzel and Willis. I mention only those who in recent years replied, not those “long since not replying”. Here, in the order in which they were received, are this year’s contributors:
Varietyreached into its expansive vault to provide real-life backstory to new theatrical film Babylon about Hollywood in the Roaring 1920s. The Variety archival article dated Dec. 23, 2022, plays off filmmaker Damien Chazelle’s new Paramount Pictures release starring Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie that captures and exaggerates that early period of “Hollywood in all its decadence, debauchery and excess.”