Times Mirror buys Hollywood Online

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Times Mirror Corp. today announced its purchase of Hollywood Online, a Los Angeles-based interactive services company specializing in building Web sites for movie and entertainment companies.

Hollywood Online will become a subsidiary of Times Mirror and will operate as a separate company. The Los Angeles Times will oversee management of the company.

Terms of the acquisition weren't disclosed. Hollywood Online, founded in 1993, was an early player in online promotions and has developed more than 100 information sites for movies. Its management team--CEO Steven B. Katinsky, President Anthony T. Farwell, Exec VP Stuart Halperin and Chief Financial Officer Bruce R. Cameron--remains intact.

The acquisition surprised many in the industry; Times Mirror has gone through a slew of staff reductions and has shuttered several properties in both old and new media. Since the company named Mark Willes CEO on June 1, it has laid off executives in both its newspaper and magazine divisions, closed down its multimedia arm and shuttered New York Newsday. It also cut back its commitment to cable channels Outdoor Life and Speedvision by bringing in new partners.

In new media, there is significant turmoil as well. Executives including Dan Fisher, editor in chief of TimesLink, The Los Angeles Times' site, and George Bell, a senior VP at Times Mirror Magazines and president of the Skiing Group who had overseen aspects of Times Mirror Magazines' new-media ventures, both have left the company. Mr. Bell becomes CEO of Internet service Architext, Mountain View, Calif.; Mr. Fisher's whereabouts aren't known.

Times Mirror Magazines President-CEO Efrem ``Skip'' Zimbalist III will assume Mr. Bell's duties until a replacement is named.

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