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Word floating around Defamer HQ has Newsday movie editor Pat Wiedenkeller and veteran critics Jan Stuart and Gene Seymour accepting buyouts that would end their tenures at the Tribune-owned tabloid effective March 28. The critics reportedly accepted their packages by a deadline last Friday; Wiedenkeller has been on the way out since earlier this month. It's no golden handshake, either, with one source telling Defamer the buyout deals topped out around 33 weeks salary, a fraction of remaining vacation days and less than a year of benefits.

The departures of Stuart and Seymour, the latter a recent chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle, mark the third such high-profile exit at a New York tabloid in the last month, following Jack Mathews retirement from the Daily News. Look for Newsday music writer Rafer Guzman and reliable freelancers like John Anderson and company to pick up film assignments along the way. Meanwhile, it's anyone's guess who's next in line for the velvet ax in the Tribune Company's arts abbatoir, but word on the street points to the Los Angeles Times newsroom. Anyone out there heard anything? You know where to find us.

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