Variety (magazine)

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Variety 2013 logo.svg
Co-Editors-in-Chief Claudia Eller and Andrew Wallenstein
Categories Trade, entertainment
Frequency Weekly
Publisher Michelle Sobrino
First issue Weekly:
1905 (New York City)
1933 (Los Angeles)
1998 (New York)
Company Penske Media Corporation
Country United States
Based in Los Angeles, California
Language English
ISSN 0042-2738
OCLC number 810134503

Variety is a weekly American entertainment trade magazine owned by Penske Media Corporation. It was founded by Sime Silverman in New York in 1905 as a weekly; in 1933 it added Daily Variety, based in Los Angeles, to cover the motion-picture industry; in 1998 it brought out Daily Variety Gotham, based in New York. is a free website that features breaking entertainment news, reviews, box office results, cover stories, videos, photo galleries and more, plus a credits database, production charts and calendar, with archive content dating back to 1905. The last daily printed edition was put out on March 19, 2013. Variety magazine originally reported on theater and vaudeville. It was enormously influential in the Early to Mid 20th century, and garnered the nickname "Bible of the Theater".


Variety has been published since December 16, 1905,[1][2] when it was launched by Sime Silverman as a weekly periodical covering vaudeville with its headquarters in New York City.

On January 19, 1907, Variety published what is considered the first film review in history.[citation needed]

In 1933, Sime Silverman launched Daily Variety, based in Hollywood.[citation needed]

Sime Silverman had passed on the editorship of the Weekly Variety to Abel Green as his replacement in 1931; he remained as publisher until his death in 1933 soon after launching the Daily. His son Sidne Silverman (1901–1950), known as "Skigie", succeeded him as publisher of both publications. Both Sidne and his wife, stage actress Marie Saxon (1905–1942), died of tuberculosis. Their only son Syd Silverman, born 1932, was the sole heir to what was then Variety Inc. Young Syd's legal guardian Harold Erichs oversaw Variety Inc. until 1956. After that date Syd Silverman was publisher of both the Weekly Variety in New York and the Daily Variety in Hollywood, until the sale of both papers in 1987 to the Cahners Corp. In L.A. the Daily was edited by Tom Pryor from 1959 until 1988.

For twenty years its editor-in-chief was Peter Bart, originally only of the weekly New York edition, with Michael Silverman (Syd's son) running the Daily in Hollywood. Bart had worked previously at Paramount Pictures and The New York Times. In April 2009, Bart moved to the position of "vice president and editorial director", characterised online as "Boffo No More: Bart Up and Out at Variety". From mid 2009 to 2013, Timothy M. Gray oversaw the publication as Editor-in-Chief,[3] after over 30 years of various reporter and editor positions in the newsroom.[4]

In March 2013, Variety owner Jay Penske appointed three co-editors to oversee different parts of the publication's industry coverage; Claudia Eller as Editor, Film; Cynthia Littleton as Editor, TV and Andrew Wallenstein as Editor, Digital. In October 2014, Eller and Wallenstein were upped to Co-Editors in Chief, with Littleton continuing to oversee the trade's television coverage. In June 2014, Penske Media Corporation (PMC) entered into an agreement with Reuters to syndicate news from Variety and Variety Latino-Powered by Univision to distribute leading entertainment news to the international news agency's global readership. This dissemination comes in teh form of columns, news stories, images, video, and data-focused products. In July 2015, Variety was awarded a Los Angeles Area Emmy Award by the Television Academy in the Best Entertainment Program category for Variety Studio: Actors on Actors, a series of one-hour specials that take viewers inside Hollywod films and television programs through conversations with acclaimed actors.

Cahner's Publishing purchased Variety from the Silverman family in 1987.[5]

On December 7, 1988, Bart's predecessor, Roger Watkins, proposed and oversaw the transition to four-color print. Upon its launch, the new-look Variety measured one inch shorter with a washed-out color on the front. The old front-page box advertisement was replaced by a strip advertisement, along with the first photos published in Variety since Sime gave up using them in the old format in 1920: they depicted Sime, Abel and Syd.[6]

In October 2012, Reed Business Information, the periodical's owner, (formerly known as Reed-Elsevier, which had been parent to Cahner's Corp. in the United States) sold the publication to Penske Media Corporation.[7][8] PMC is the owner of, which since the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike has been considered Variety's largest competitor in online showbiz news. In October, 2012, Jay Penske announced that the website's paywall would come down, the print publication would stay, and he would invest more into Variety's digital platform in a townhall.[9]

A significant portion of the publication's advertising revenue comes during the movie-award season leading up to the Academy Awards. During this "Awards Season", large numbers of colorful, full-page "For Your Consideration" advertisements inflate the size of Variety to double or triple its usual page count. These advertisements are the studios' attempt to reach other Hollywood professionals who will be voting on the many awards given out in the early part of the year, including the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes and various guild award honors.[citation needed]


Paid circulation for the weekly Variety magazine in 2013 was 40,000 (Source: BPA Audit Statement, 2013). Each copy of each Variety issue is read by an average of three people, with an estimated total readership of 120,000 (Source: Ipsos Subscriber Study, 2013). has 17 million unique monthly visitors (Source: Google Analytics, 2015).[10].[10]


  • Variety (started in 1905) is a weekly entertainment publication with a broad coverage of movies, television, theater, music and technology, written for entertainment executives. It is published weekly and delivered internationally.
  • Daily Variety (started in 1933 and ended in 2013) was the name of the Los Angeles-based Hollywood and Broadway daily edition.
  • Daily Variety Gotham, (started in 1998) was the name of the New York City-based edition which gives a priority focus to East Coast show-business news and was produced earlier in the evening than the Los Angeles edition so it could be delivered to New York the following morning.
  • (launched in 1998) is the internet version of Variety. It was one of the first online newspapers to charge for access when it launched. However, the paywall was removed in April 2013; all content on can now be accessed free-of-charge.
  • Variety On-The-Go Variety is also available as an app on the iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows phone. This app is an interactive content-driven platform providing entertainment industry updates on the go.[11]
  • @Variety is available across multiple social media platforms and channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, with videos streaming on and on the "Variety" YouTube channel.


Older Variety logo

For much of its existence, Variety's writers and columnists have used a jargon called slanguage or varietyese (a form of headlinese) that refers especially to the movie industry, and has largely been adopted and imitated by other writers in the industry. Such terms as "legit", "boffo", "sitcom", "sex appeal", "payola", and even "striptease" are attributed to the magazine.[12] Its attempt to popularize "infobahn" as a synonym for "information superhighway" never caught on. One of its popular headlines was from October 1929, when the stock market crashed: "Wall St. Lays An Egg". The most famous was "Sticks nix hick pix"[13][14] (the movie-prop version renders it as "Stix nix hix pix!" in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), Michael Curtiz's musicalbiographical film about George M. Cohan starring James Cagney). Television series are referred to as "skeins", and heads of companies or corporate teams are called "toppers". In addition, more-common English words and phrases are shortened; "audience members" becomes simply "auds", "performance" "perf", and "network" becomes "net" for example.

According to The Boston Globe, the Oxford English Dictionary cites Variety as the earliest source for about two dozen terms, including "show biz" (1945).[15] In 2005, Welcome Books published The Hollywood Dictionary by Timothy M. Gray and J. C. Suares, which defines nearly 200 of these terms.

In 2012, Rizzoli Books published Variety: An Illustrated History of the World from the Most Important Magazine in Hollywood by Gray. The book covers Variety‍ '​s coverage of hundreds of world events, from the 1907 San Francisco earthquake through Arab Spring in 2012, and argues that the entertainment industry needs to stay aware of changes in politics and tastes since those changes will affect their audiences. In a foreword to the book, Martin Scorsese calls Variety "the single most formidable trade publication ever" and says that the book's content "makes you feel not only like a witness to history, but part of it too."

In 2013, Variety staffers tallied more than 200 uses of weekly or Daily Variety in TV shows and films, ranging from I Love Lucy to Entourage.[citation needed]

Variety was so influential in the early to mid 20th century that it was called the "Bible of the Theater". Its endorsement was highly sought by performers and the Variety Award was one of the oldest, most prestigious drama awards in its day.


The Variety Building in December 2008.

In late 2008, Variety moved its Los Angeles offices to 5900 Wilshire, a 31-story office building on Wilshire Boulevard in the heart of the Miracle Mile area. The building was dubbed the Variety Building because a red, illuminated "Variety" sign graced the top north and south sides of the building. In early 2014, the sign and offices moved west to 11175 Santa Monica Blvd. in Westwood, where Variety shares the 9-story building with parent company PMC, Variety Insight, Variety 411, and PMC's other media brands, including,,, Variety Latino and the West Coast offices of WWD and Footwear News.

Reprints of film reviews[edit]

This is the short list of English-language periodicals with 10,000 or more film reviews reprinted in book form:

Film reviews in Variety continued after the dates of the last reprints.

Reprints of obituaries[edit]

The complete text of approximately 100,000 entertainment-related obituaries (1905–1986) were reprinted as Variety Obituaries, an 11-volume set, including alphabetical index. Four additional bi-annual reprints were published (for 1987–1994) before the reprint series was discontinued.

Film trailer charts[edit]

In 2009, Variety launched a chart showcasing the top performing film trailers ahead of theatrical release in partnership with media measurement firm Visible Measures.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Inside Variety" published in 2000 (Ars Millenii, Madrid) by Peter Besas
  2. ^ "December 16th In NYC History". NY1. December 16, 2011. 
  3. ^ Barnes, Brooks; Cieply, Michael (April 6, 2009). "Change of Guard at Variety Reflects Shifting Landscape". The New York Times.  Accessed July 30, 2009 (registration required).
  4. ^ "Editorial Staff"[dead link]. Variety. Undated. Accessed August 9, 2009.
  5. ^ HARRIS, KATHRYN (1987-07-15). "Writers at Variety Ask: Will Sale End Freewheeling Era?". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  6. ^, 7th paragraph.[dead link]
  7. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (July 19, 2012). "The Big Picture: Variety's future looks bleak". The Los Angeles Times.  Accessed July 21, 2012
  8. ^ Barnes, Brooks; Cieply, Michael (October 9, 2012). "In a Fire Sale, Penske Media Buys Variety". The New York Times. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Jay Penske Tells Variety Town Hall Today: Pay Wall Ends, Print Stays, Digital Expands". Deadline. October 10, 2012. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  10. ^ BPA Worldwide, September 2011
  11. ^ Nakashima, Ryan (December 9, 2009). "Variety to begin charging for Web access Thursday". Google News. The Associated Press. Retrieved December 11, 2009. 
  12. ^ Hillard, Gloria (June 18, 2005). "A Century of 'Variety'-Speak". National Public Radio.  Accessed March 15, 2008.
  13. ^ McCall, George (July 17, 1935). "Sticks nix hick pix". Variety.  Accessed July 30, 2009.
  14. ^ Guider, Elizabeth (May 8, 2005). "1935 exhibitor perspective 'Sticks' in memory". Variety.  Accessed July 30, 2009.
  15. ^ Wren, Celia (February 27, 2005). "Do you speak showbiz? Variety celebrates 100 years of slanguage". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 5, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Top 10 Film Trailers of the Week". 


  • Peter Besas, Inside Variety (Madrid: Ars Millenii, 2000) The 563-page book gives a detailed history of the newspaper (it was never called a "magazine" under the Silvermans) from its birth in 1905 to its sale in 1987.
  • SimesSite (web page run by pre-corporate (Silverman era) employees of Variety)

External links[edit]