According to the Hollywood Reporter and the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone is seeking to downgrade veteran movie critic Peter Travers from a staff job to a contract position as part of a wave of restructuring that also resulted in the departure of managing editor Will Dana, who oversaw the magazine’s disastrously debunked “A Rape on Campus.” The Reporter quotes a source saying that “yelling and screaming” was heard from co-founder and publisher Jann Wenner’s office, while the Times says he “bristled vocally” and threatened to jump ship. My own source confirms that the magazine and Travers are negotiating a change in his status, although painting a less dramatic picture, with “no yelling or animosity at all.”
Travers, who has been with Rolling Stone since 1989, is best known as a frequent source of blurbs for Hollywood movies, invariably the highest-ranking critic for a major publication in eFilmCritic’s annual survey. (Quotes from his reviews turned up in 60 ads in 2014 alone.) “He gives the nicest reviews — he’s such a cream puff,” said an unnamed indie-film executive told the Reporter in April. As such, news of his uncertain status has been greeted on Film Twitter and elsewhere with no small amount of snarky schadenfreude. But it’s not as if Travers is stepping aside to make room for some worthier critic: A Rolling Stone spokesperson confidently said, “He is our movie critic now and will continue to be, and he is not leaving the magazine for as far into the future as we can speak.” If Travers does shift to writing on contract, all that means is that one more staff critic position has been lost, and nothing has been gained.