L.A. Times Editorial Page Editor Quits

Publisher Kills Sunday Opinion Section Guest-Edited by Hollywood Producer

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- The Los Angeles Times' editorial page editor quit today following a decision by the paper's publisher to pull a Sunday section guest-edited by one of the editor's publicist girlfriend's Hollywood clients.
Brian Grazer
Brian Grazer Credit: AP

Andres Martinez's resignation -- reported by the newspaper today -- is the latest in a growing list of high-profile executive departures at the Times, which last year saw highly regarded editor Dean Baquet and publisher Jeff Johnson quit in a spat with parent Tribune Co. over cost cuts at the paper, which has struggled to deal with steep advertising and circulation declines as of late.

The publicist and her client
The events leading to Mr. Martinez's departure centered upon an upcoming Sunday opinion section guest-edited by film producer Brian Grazer ("A Beautiful Mind"), who is a client of Hollywood publicist Kelly Mullens' agency. (Ms. Mullens was the contact on a recent press release hyping Mr. Grazer's collaboration with the Times.)

Earlier this week, a report on the LAObserved blog noted that Ms. Mullens is involved in a romantic relationship with Mr. Martinez. While earlier reports indicated the Grazer-edited section would run with a editor's note disclosing the apparent conflict of interest, Times Publisher David Hiller ultimately decided to kill the section altogether.

In a memo posted to the Times' website, Mr. Martinez said he decided to quit as soon as he was told the section was being pulled, because "Hiller's decision amounts to a vote of no confidence in my continued leadership. ... I accept responsibility for creating this appearance problem, though I also maintain that the newspaper is overreacting today," he wrote.

Mr. Hiller told the Times that: "I think it's fair to say that we got ourselves into a predicament and we should not have let it happen."
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