Even with the glut of show business coverage already available online, Tribe Media Corp. felt there was still a niche to fill: coverage of positive entertainment stories and the various mensches in the business.
So Tribe, publisher of the Jewish Journal, launched Hollywood Journal, a digital magazine where contributors opine on the more spiritual sides of the entertainment business, such as how they’ve been inspired by certain movies. In another departure from traditional coverage, the site eschews the normal trade talk of ratings and box office earnings.
Its moniker is “Soul of the Biz.”
“It’s a deeper, more meaningful take on Hollywood,” said Jill Cutler, a onetime CAA agent who was tapped to lead the site’s editorial efforts.
Cutler is Hollywood Journal’s only full-time employee. Contributors include a few dozen writers, many of them producers, entertainment executives or screenwriters.
There are also reposts from the Jewish Journal, for example a recent question-and-answer feature with Steven Spielberg, as well as a section, HolyWood, where local religious leaders chime in. The site is nondenominational, however.
It all started to come together last year after Cutler left her job as president of production at Winkler Films. She went to lunch with longtime friend David Suissa, president of Tribe, who pitched her on the idea.
Suissa and Jewish Journal editor-in-chief Rob Eshman were looking to launch a product geared toward the industry crowd, as Tribe had recently purchased the HollywoodJournal.com domain name.
Drawing on her contacts, Cutler now arranges for contributors to write for the site, edit and posts stories, and occasionally takes some photos.
The site is supported by ads – Suissa oversees that side of the business. Content is free to readers.
When Van Nuys art director Lynn Garrett began posting on Facebook about L.A.’s unknown attractions in 2009, she gained a few thousand followers, but her hobby didn’t immediately look like big business.
That all changed after her Facebook page, called Hidden Los Angeles, ballooned to attract some 270,000 “Likes.”
Now, Garrett is worried that her growing social media business will be stifled by competition from the legacy media.
Late last month, Garrett filed suit against Emmis Publishing of Indianapolis, publisher of Los Angeles Magazine, for the magazine’s use of “Hidden L.A.” in a 2011 cover story, as well as an associated sweepstakes. A spokesman for Emmis said it had just hired local counsel and could not comment.
Garrett said she was told of the magazine’s interest in publishing a Hidden L.A.-themed issue, however, she claims she wasn’t consulted for input afterwards. As a result, she said, the magazine’s use of the term differs from her own and has confused some of her followers.
“It dilutes the power of the meaning that I have attached,” she said.
Garrett’s page is known for featuring venues across town where someone could, for example, find an outdoor movie screening or an out-of-the-way burger stand. She finds new locations by driving around or doing Google searches.
In recent years, she has begun to generate revenue from the Facebook page, though she didn’t say how much.
She said she’s also fielded offers in the six figures from parties looking to buy a majority stake in her business, which includes ownership of the trademarked name “Hidden Los Angeles.” Garrett does not, however, own a trademark for “Hidden L.A.,” but she does hold one for period-free “Hidden LA.”
In response to the magazine’s use of “Hidden L.A.,” Garrett is seeking unspecified damages, profits from Emmis, compensation for lawyer’s fees and an injunction against the magazine’s future use of the name.
Garrett’s income comes primarily from organizing events such as a recent tour of the Los Angeles River. About 60 people paid $35 each for tickets. She also sells T-shirts.
She said she sees opportunities to publish a book, or possibly expand her network of Web properties, which also includes the domain names HiddenLA.com, HiddenNewYork.com and HiddenSanFrancisco.com.
“I’ve always intended on making this a bigger thing,” she said. “The main thing was I needed to build it and see what it was.”
L.A.’s Metro isn’t just trying to play a bigger role in people’s daily commutes, its also auditioning for more roles in local productions.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently hired downtown L.A. location agency Hollywood Locations to book more film, TV and commercial shoots on Metro-owned property.
Hollywood Locations has for 13 years booked shoots at Union Station downtown, including for recent releases “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Gangster Squad,” but will now try to expand shoots to more Metro properties.
Location agencies market properties to producers and typically take a commission on the booking.
Staff reporter Jonathan Polakoff can be reached at email@example.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 226.
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