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Entertainment Weekly’s New Editor Is Out to Hire Multidiscipline Talent

But Matt Bean is a bit cagey on critics

Photo: Alfred Maskeroni

Specs
Name Matt Bean
Age 35
New gig Editor, Entertainment Weekly
Old gig Managing editor, SportsIllustrated.com

You were named editor of Entertainment Weekly in February. What’s been your biggest focus so far? The biggest focus has been bringing people to the brand that can help us build for the future. We’re looking for contributors who can span platforms, whether that’s a data editor whose job is to create infographics for the website but who can also do a really beautiful infographic spread in the magazine once a week, or a writer who can do recaps of True Detective but then write an interesting feature piece on it when the season nears completion.

What has it been like to transition from sports to entertainment? Well, actually, the reason I didn’t go to med school is because I was having so much fun doing the culture and entertainment section at the University of Chicago newspaper that I decided to give journalism school a try. Over the years, I have found ways to connect with the entertainment world, whether it was booking covers at Men’s Health or trying to incorporate more entertainers at Sports Illustrated. When you look at the parallels between sports and entertainment, they’re more similar than you might think.

What makes EW unique in the entertainment news space? The direction that we’re heading in editorially is to not only cover the creative industry, but to be creative with how we cover it. For example, we were sponsors of the PaleyFest in Los Angeles this spring, and we shot a video where we asked the cast of Lost to explain one of the most confusing, amazing TV shows of all time in just 30 seconds. It’s got a half a million views already. That’s the kind of creativity that I think we can blend with the access that we have.

Digital entertainment brands like AV Club and Vulture are getting bigger—in fact, the new editor of EW.com, Kyle Ryan, came from AV Club. How does a weekly print publication compete? Print is as important as it’s ever been for us. Actors, directors, studios want their content on the cover of a magazine. At the same time, it just doesn’t make sense for me to tell you something that you’ve already read about five other places online. We need to make sure that everything we do in the magazine brings an extra layer of analysis or in-depth reporting to it.

Are there any areas of coverage that you’d like to add to EW? Yes. I think the advent of streaming services—Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Microsoft—is unprecedented, and as they become even more important to the reader, I think they ought to grow in prominence in the magazine as well.

People were surprised that Owen Gleiberman, EW’s longtime film critic, was let go last month. What was the thinking behind that? Change is always difficult. Entertainment Weekly is a brand that’s been around for 24 years, and, you know, I think the world of Owen. But right now, we’re just building for the future, and the business has to move forward.

Are you planning to hire another movie critic to replace him? I can’t speak to exactly what our plans are as far as critics are concerned, but much as I’ve said, we’re looking for people who are capable of contributing across platforms; we’re also looking for voices who can weigh in on a movie here or an album there. It’s not to say that we do not value the incredible service that Owen had done for the magazine, but we’re just heading in a different direction.

 

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