Richard Johnson Is Getting Back in the Gossip Game

The goings-on inside New York’s tabloids might not rise to the extent of reality TV, however right here’s one thing that can prick up the ears of even essentially the most jaded old-timers: Richard Johnson is popping out of retirement. The legendary gossipmonger isn’t returning to Rupert Murdoch’s New York Publish, the place Johnson labored for the higher a part of 4 a long time—a lot of it because the well-sourced and broadly feared editor of Web page Six—earlier than hanging up his hat in 2019 on the age of 65. Reasonably, Johnson will start writing for the Day by day Information, the Publish’s age-old rival within the once-bloody tabloid wars. “Two years off was sufficient,” he informed me. “I’m able to get again to work.”

A couple of weeks in the past Johnson acquired a name from Frank Pine, an govt on the Information’ mum or dad entity, Tribune Publishing. “We chatted,” mentioned Johnson, “and he mentioned, ‘What might you do for us? We need to get again within the recreation in New York.’ So I mentioned, ‘I don’t wanna work full-time, however I wish to do one column per week.’” The primary installment of that column, which Johnson will write on a contractual foundation, is scheduled to debut Friday on-line and Sunday in print. “I hope it will likely be just like the outdated days of Web page Six,” he mentioned. (For greater than a decade, Web page Six has been edited by Emily Smith, a Fleet Avenue import who beforehand labored for Murdoch’s Solar.)

Earlier in his profession Johnson put Web page Six on the map as a clearinghouse for scurrilous dish about celebrities and the facility elite. He first joined the Publish in 1978, however left for a few years within the early ’90s to work at a pre–Graydon Carter New York Observer and a then Robert Maxwell–owned Day by day Information. The truth is, it was Maxwell, late father of alleged Jeffrey Epstein coconspirator Ghislaine Maxwell, who employed him. “He was fairly a personality,” Johnson recalled. “Then he died, Mort [Zuckerman] took over, and when my contract expired, I went again to the Publish.” Johnson additionally labored briefly at The Day by day, the short-lived iPad publication that Murdoch funded from 2011 to 2012, at which level Johnson returned to the Publish to write down an eponymous gossip column.

Since Might, Tribune Publishing has been owned by Alden International Capital, a hedge fund that operates dozens of newspapers by its Tribune and MediaNews Group subsidiaries. As I chronicled in a feature last year, Alden has a nasty rap for its technique of shopping for distressed publications and chopping them to the bone to eke out revenue margins. The Information, already decimated by downsizing over the previous decade, hasn’t seen any involuntary employees reductions beneath Alden simply but, however there was a spherical of buyouts when the sale went by. (Tribune’s earlier administration was planning to make the tabloid digital-only, based on somebody conversant in the plans, however the print version will stay intact beneath Alden.) I needed to know the way Johnson felt about going to work for the massive unhealthy wolf of journalism. “I’ve labored for lots of people who’re thought of lower than ideally suited,” he mentioned. As for the column itself, I requested if he felt rusty after mendacity low for 2 years. Does Johnson nonetheless have sources? “I’m hoping they’ll come again as soon as they know I’m in enterprise once more.”  

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Huynh Nguyen

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