An unusual tug-of-war between a pair of media moguls over a Hollywood journalist has given way to an equally unusual compromise.
Tatiana Siegel — executive film editor at The Hollywood Reporter — said on Twitter Wednesday that she will move to “Rolling Stone,” where she will work as a senior writer reporting on entertainment, media and culture. Meanwhile, Siegel also will work for “The Ankler” — a new entertainment newsletter co-owned by magazine editor Janice Min — as editor-at-large.
It is unlikely, however, that Siegel will be able to write for “The Ankler.” Instead, insiders say she’ll be permitted to do a podcast.
It was the weird outcome to a rough-and-tumble week that began last Tuesday, when Min announced in a New York Times feature that she would become co-owner and CEO of “The Ankler” and that Siegel, The Hollywood Reporter’s executive film editor, would be her first hire.
The news kicked off a bizarre battle fought in the press over Siegel, the reporter behind a host of investigative stories, including one on movie and theater producer Scott Rudin’s bullying and abuse of employees and colleagues.
Penske, who reportedly learned that Siegel was leaving for “The Ankler” from the Times article, “lost it” according to a source, and scrambled to claw back the journalist, offering her a job at his other publication, “Rolling Stone.”
Before a deal was worked out, he announced during a town hall meeting last Wednesday that the star journalist was joining “Rolling Stone.” On Thursday, Penske’s Variety published a story with the headline: “Janice Min Loses First Hire at Ankler Newsletter to Rolling Stone.”
In response, Min tweeted that Variety ran a “false story,” noting that Siegel accepted “The Ankler” job, and that Jay Penske was trying “hard” to keep her from leaving.
“My response to the reporter, if she had waited for it, was, ‘Tatiana has accepted an offer to work for The Ankler. We understand Jay Penske is working really hard to try to keep her.’ DIdn’t realize one of the ways was to put out a false story,” Min wrote.
A source close to the matter, however, said it was Min who “jumped the gun” with The Times story even though she had a signed employee offer in hand. That’s because Siegel appeared to still be bound by Penske’s contract.
According to reports, Penske threatened to sue Siegel for violating her non-compete, which would prohibit the journalist from working at a rival publication for six months. But a source close to Penske denied that there was any threat of a lawsuit, and instead said that Siegel was in talks with the company for a larger role.
Siegel did not respond to requests for comment. Both Penske and Min declined to comment.
Contracts at Penske’s media company typically include a non-compete clause that details a list of publications where the employee cannot go. A source said “The Ankler” was not on the list but Penske pushed back anyway.
Although terms of Siegel’s new contract are not known, it is believed that she now has a contract for a specified amount of time, whereas before, she was an at-will employee.
“We know the team at Rolling Stone is thrilled to have Tatiana join their team as a full-time senior writer and reporter across entertainment, media and culture. We are on record to dispel any misrepresentation of the relationship to the Ankler, which is limited to participation in a podcast,” a spokeswoman for Penske said.
The Penske-Min kerfuffle comes amid The Department of Justice’s antitrust probe surrounding Penske Media’s deal to buy The Hollywood Reporter in 2020. In addition to “Rolling Stone,” “The Hollywood Reporter” and “Variety,” Penske also owns “Deadline: Hollywood.”
According to insiders, Penske has agreed to keep the advertising sales teams separate across the three publications in order to assuage The DOJ. The investigation, however, hasn’t stopped the media exec from trying to scoop up more entertainment publications.
In what has become a dizzying tale of rumor and denial, sources said Penske had talked to Richard Rushfield, founder of “The Ankler,” in recent months about investing in the newsletter. Rushfield brought on Min as a co-owner and CEO instead.
A source with knowledge denied that any offer was ever made to Penske but said the media mogul has a friendly relationship with Rushfield and the two speak often.