The Hollywood Reporter, which for months has been casting a wide net in search of a new editor, is expected to make a decision in the next few weeks.

Dozens of editors and reporters in Los Angeles and beyond have been getting calls and e-mails from Korn/Ferry International, the executive search firm hired by the Reporter to fill the post vacated by Anita Busch in late April.

She resigned after Publisher and Editor-In-Chief Robert Dowling refused to publish a piece about a Screen Actors Guild investigation of veteran Reporter columnist George Christy.

Among the names frequently mentioned around Hollywood as candidates for the post are Corie Brown, editor of the Los Angeles Times' "Company Town" section; Glenn Bunting, the Times' deputy business editor for technology and entertainment; Michael Cieply, former West Coast editor of Inside.com; Jonathan Taylor, former general manager and executive editor of Variety.com and Anne Thompson, West Coast editor of Premiere magazine.

"(The post) is a pretty big deal now that things at Variety are a bit up in the air," said one potential candidate who asked not to be named. "I keep hearing names being thrown around."

Variety editor Peter Bart was suspended earlier this month over allegations of ethical misconduct and derogatory comments about blacks, Jews and gays in an article published in Los Angeles magazine.

Although the Reporter search has not been advertised, it's generated considerable interest and drawn several dozen unsolicited inquiries, said William Simon, managing director of the global entertainment and media practice for Korn/Ferry.

"We're talking to a lot of editors and reporters. A lot of people have heard of it," he said. "There are a number of people contacting us who want to get into the search, who don't have our requisite experience."

Simon said "more than 10 and less than 100" people have been contacted in Korn/Ferry's nationwide search but as of last week no one had actually been interviewed for the job and no deadline had been set.

"They would ideally like to see somebody hired in the early fall," Simon said.

An e-mail sent by Korn/Ferry to potential candidates specifies that "the editor will be an outstanding journalist, community leader and visionary and will act as an example for a news staff which includes both veteran and novice journalists ... Relationships with entertainment executives would be a plus, but are clearly secondary in importance to journalistic, management and leadership skills."

Ten to 15 years of newsroom management experience from a respected print publicationis preferred, the e-mail states.

Simon would not reveal the names of the people who have been contacted. Reporter officials declined to comment on the search, except to say that Korn/Ferry was hired in early July. Dowling declined to be interviewed.

The attention granted the search is not surprising, given the controversy from which Busch's resignation arose.

Reports surfaced in April that David Robb, the publication's former labor reporter, had written an article about Christy alleging that the columnist had received SAG health benefits by claiming roles in movies in which he failed to appear. When Dowling refused to print the piece, Robb, Busch and then-executive film editor Beth Laski resigned. The Reporter reassigned the story and ran a short piece about the investigation on April 30.

After resigning, Robb moved to Inside.com, an entertainment news Web site. Last week, Premiere's Thompson confirmed that Busch and Laski would write a monthly column about Hollywood for the magazine.

In filling the Reporter position, "they're going to have a hard time finding someone who's going to want to come in there and feel they will have the autonomy to give that paper an editorial vision," said one industry source.

Christy, who has been on paid leave since May, reportedly is the subject of a federal grand jury investigation, a SAG audit and an internal investigation at the Reporter. A spokeswoman for the publication would not comment on the status of its investigation.

Deputy Editor Howard Burns, who has been at the publication for 13 years, has been serving as interim editor since June.

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