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The Fifth Element

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George Vollmuth was literally employee no. 5 at Entertainment Weekly, hired in 1990 as EW‘s first director of finance and administration. He dismissed his job as ”bean counter,” but this is one time George has the tally wrong. The sum of his contributions to EW simply can’t be counted. In those first years, Vollmuth was in charge of everything from establishing vacation policies to buying computers to creating a budget for a fledgling magazine.

”Usually when you change jobs, you go to a place with policies and procedures—and offices,” says Vollmuth, 52, who had previously worked for seven years at Money, another Time Inc. publication. ”All we had was a couple of people, a business plan, and a great idea.”

Over the years, Vollmuth had some great ideas of his own. His open-door policy ensured he knew all our employees by name. In his famously cluttered office, he greeted every new staffer personally—and even wrote the occasional limerick (plus an epic poem or two) for special occasions like weddings, births, and departures. ”George became one of the people who set the atmosphere and tone of the magazine,” says EW managing editor James W. Seymore Jr. ”He’s a caring, compassionate person who did more than he probably knows to make this an interesting magazine and a fun place to work.”

Alas, in October, Vollmuth left the EW fold to become VP of finance and administration for all of Time Inc. Though he’ll be missed by everyone on our staff, we’re fortunate to have Cathy O’Brien joining us as his successor. O’Brien comes to us from Time Inc. headquarters, where, in addition to her business duties, she was known as the ”idea czar,” ensuring that information was shared across departments. We’re looking forward to hearing more of her good ideas—and we wish both of these extraordinary bean counters (and we say that with affection and admiration) the best of luck in their new roles.

John Squires President

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