• Lionsgate and the Weinstein Co. filed lawsuits against each other yesterday over distribution rights to the Sundance hit film Push. [THR]
• Shake up at Condé Nast: New Yorker publisher Drew Schutte is out and will be replaced by Condé Nast Traveler publisher Lisa Hughes. [NYP]
• The New York Times Co. is cutting staff at its About.com unit. [Reuters]
• Walter Isaacson has a few thoughts on how to save newspapers. [Time]
• The House has voted to extend the deadline to switch to digital TV. [NYT]
• Katie Couric will be hitting the catwalk during Fashion Week. Yay. [WWD]
Officially, the New York Times Company isn't commenting on tech executive Jason Calacanis' claim that it is shopping reference site About.com in an effort to shore up its financial position and perhaps go private. But two anonymous sources poured cold water on his statements, according to Peter Kafka of All Things Digital, denying that the profitable property is on the block. Perhaps a rogue banker is trying to drum up interest in a (hypothetical) deal before taking it to the Times, hoping to score some business. Or maybe Calacanis just got his wires crossed. But lack of any dealmaking will hardly tamp down speculation over how the Times Company will pay down its junk-rated debt. If anything, it makes the situation an even more tricky puzzle.
♦ John McCain's appearance on Saturday Night Live didn't generate Sarah Palin-like ratings, but it was still an impressive showing nonetheless. [THR]
♦ No word yet on who will take over NBC's Meet the Press. Chuck Todd, David Gregory, Gwen Ifill, and even Katie Couric all remain possibilities. [NYT]
♦ CBS is on a primetime ratings roll, although Sumner Redstone is still screwed, apparently. [NYT, NYT]
♦ Another profile of Rachel Maddow, just in case the 237 other pieces on MSNBC's rising star in recent weeks have yet to whet your appetite. [NYM]
♦ In case you missed it, the clip of Sarah Palin getting punked by a couple of Montreal radio personalities, who explain how they managed to get through to her. [ABC]
The troubled New York Times Company is running out of options. It owes more than $1 billion, close to half of it coming due in the next two years. But it just ruled out layoffs for the foreseeable future and will probably try to avoid cutting the $132 million annual dividend, since doing so could spark a boardroom revolt by high-living Sulzberger family members. So it would make sense if the company has been trying to sell About.com, as Jason Calacanis, CEO of search engine company Mahalo, said on the This Week In Tech podcast last week. (Audio of his remarks lies after the jump.)
After a long search, the New York Times Co.'s About.com has a new CEO, former Digitas exec Cella Irvine. We heard rumors the last one, Scott Meyer, was forced out in February; the management team, we were told, had threatened to quit if he wasn't. Commenters, including several claiming to be About.com employees, disputed the story. One, however, hinted at why Meyer really left:
About.com's Scott Meyer was forced out as CEO of the New York Times-owned website after his senior staff threatened to quit unless he left, a tipster tells us. NYT CEO Janet Robinson had wanted to keep Meyer on, even though his reports ridiculed him as a biz-dev type who was clueless about the Web. That he left without a replacement indicates how deep the revolt went. For NYT Digital chief Martin Nisenholtz, who's running About.com for the time being, the gig is temporary, and involuntary. "Martin definitely doesn't want to run About," says our source — though he also pressed Robinson to do something about Meyer. As for replacements? Ron McCoy, the company's chief digital architect, and an early pioneer of search-engine optimization, is the heavy lifter at About.com, but he's not a candidate for the CEO spot: He flies in from Atlanta, and is said to be uninterested in management.
About.com, the '90s-vintage mess of protoblogs the New York Times Co. paid $410 million for three years ago, has lost its CEO, Scott Meyer, left. The departure is characterized as "amicable"; the circumstances, curious. The Times has been rumored to be shopping About.com, though the company denies it. Regardless, Meyer is not being replaced. Instead, Martin Nisenholtz, the digital chief at the Times, right, will run it directly. There are two interpretations here.
The New York Times has hired a bank in order to sell About.com, Silicon Alley Insider reports. The Times bought the site — a collection of bloggers posting Google- friendly content — back in 2005 for $410 million. SAI's Peter Kafka figures the Times will ask for around $450 million. And will be happy to get it. Makes sense. How much can a company full of permalancers paid by the pageview be worth, anyway?
The New York Times bought About.com from Primedia in 2005. The site, a tedious network of "experts," is an entirely separate business division. How's that working out? Well, here's a picture from Flushing's Main Street of what the New York Times has named the best new burger in Queens! Oh, wait, what's that apostrophe and that hard-to-see black print? Ohhh. It's the best new burger in Queens according to "The New York Times' About.com." Yeesh. It's just not good for the esteemed brand when search engine consultant and Queens About.com guide John Roleke can get put on par with Times food critics. (Though who knows! Maybe Mr. Roleke is an untapped genius resource with a brilliant palate!)