Two months after Entertainment Weekly dismissed veteran critic Owen Gleiberman, its sister publication, People, has raised the stakes by doing away with its movie and TV review sections altogether, along with music and book reviews. Movie critic Alynda Wheat and TV critic Tom Gliatto will remain at the magazine, contributing to a new omnibus feature called "People Picks," which will eventually run daily on People's website, but music critic Chuck Arnold is leaving in the wake of the announcement.
Capital has learned that Cagle, the former Entertainment Weekly editor who replaced longtime People editor Larry Hackett in January, is blowing up the magazine's front-of-book section, "Picks and Pans," replacing its long-running movie, music, television and book reviews with a new franchise that better reflects the ways people are consuming culture online.
The section, "People Picks," which is scheduled to debut next week, according to sources with knowledge of the plans, will highlight staff picks from those four subject areas while also branching out to include coverage of apps, games, viral video, streaming video, Netflix hits, Instagram stars, and so on.
The section will be overseen by TV critic Tom Gliatto and Steve Snyder, the editorial development director of People Digital, whose inclusion hints at Cagle's push to integrate People's print and online operations. People Picks will also eventually exist as a daily digital franchise, and the magazine's traditional starred culture reviews will find a new home on the web, sources said.
One the one hand, People isn't exactly known for its cutting-edge criticism, but for those of us who grew up perusing its pages in supermarket checkout lines, the loss of those sections still provokes a pang, or maybe just a touch of phantom limb syndrome. It's hard to judge the new section before it's launched, but lumping movies and TV in with "apps, games, viral video, streaming video, Netflix hits, Instagram stars" is not a promising sign.
The news follows Entertainment Weekly's decision to launch a new "Community" section featuring writing by unpaid contributors, and is doubtless timed to precede Friday's spinoff of Time, Inc. -- the publishing arm responsible for People, Entertainment Weekly, Time and Sports Illustrated -- as a separate entity.