In the world of publishing, there’s supposed to be a church-state wall between the editing and business sides of a magazine. Here at entertainment weekly, we take that separation of powers very seriously: The pinstriped advertising and sales execs on the 29th floor stick to their spreadsheets and pie charts, while we ink-stained wretches on the 28th mind our own business — which happens to be obsessively covering the world of entertainment.
That’s one reason we’re so upset that Mike Kelly, EW‘s publisher for the last four years — and advertising sales director for five years before that — left us this month to launch his own Internet start-up company (Americantowns.com — look for it on the Web later this year). Because despite that barbed-wire border between 28 and 29, Kelly was always a welcome visitor on the edit floor. He may have been a numbers man by profession, but he seemed equally at home with pop culture, as knowledgeable about the latest Sopranos episode or John Woo movie as any of our obsessive-compulsive editors. Sometimes — we hate to admit it — even more so.
”That’s what was so much fun about the job,” Kelly says. ”I’ve always been a business guy, but I’ve also loved reading the magazine. I’ve always believed in it. From the beginning, I knew it had a future.”
Actually, a main reason EW had any future is Mike Kelly himself. He was one of the first staffers to sign on, and his drive, warmth, and humor (he once workshopped with the Second City comedy troupe) made him a natural leader. No challenge was too tough for Mike, and no one worked harder for our success. Under his direction, EW‘s ad pages grew from nearly 900 in the early days to 2,200 last year. He was there every step of the way as EW invented itself over the years, and he made the journey more fun than it had any right to be. No one could be a better friend or colleague than Mike Kelly, and we’re going to miss him terribly.
Fortunately, David Morris, the man who’s stepping into Kelly’s job, knows how we feel. ”It’s a tough situation when your mentor, someone you look up to and respect, leaves the company — and it turns out to be the happiest day of your life because you’re getting his job,” he says. ”Especially when it’s the best job in the world.”
Lucky for us, Morris — who spent the last three and a half years as the magazine’s associate publisher, and before that was our national sales manager — is as big an entertainment fan as his predecessor. ”I see about a hundred movies a year,” he confesses. ”Mostly action. Cruise, Schwarzenegger, that sort of stuff. If someone doesn’t get blown up in the first few minutes, I’m probably not going to be interested.”
Dave, you’re welcome on 28 anytime.
James W. Sewymore Jr.