Francis Pandolfi, 52, who has headed the magazines since 1988, was removed from day-to-day operations and replaced by Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III, a financial executive who was most recently VP-strategic development at the parent company in Los Angeles.
Intense speculation now focuses on the future of Ann Dilworth, the senior VP of the consumer media group and until last week Mr. Pandolfi's boss.
Though Mr. Pandolfi will remain with Times Mirror working on marketing projects, he will now report to Mr. Zimbalist.
Insiders theorize that, like Mr. Pandolfi, Ms. Dilworth has been made an offer to stay in a reduced capacity.
Consumer media, which derives most of its revenue from magazines, lost $4.9 million on revenue of $289.8 million last year. Times Mirror executives have insisted that the magazine unit was making a slim profit but that the profits were eaten up by investments in multimedia and cable TV programming-areas that Ms. Dilworth championed.
In the most recent reporting period, ended June 30, quarterly losses for consumer media ballooned to $7.1 million, while revenues slipped 1.2% to $66.9 million.
On Aug. 2, when the official announcement was released to the public, a company spokeswoman said Ms. Dilworth "has taken several vacation days and will be back next Tuesday [Aug. 8]."
Cutbacks have been under way throughout Times Mirror. Within weeks after Mark Willes took over as CEO June 1, he announced the shutdown of New York Newsday and staff reductions ranging from 750 people at the Los Angeles Times to last week's 150 at The Hartford (Conn.) Courant.
On July 27, Times Mirror also formally cut back its commitment to cable TV channels Outdoor Life and Speedvision by bringing in new equity partners Comcast Corp. and Continental Cablevision to partner with Cox Communications.
Although Mr. Willes has officially said magazines and newspapers won't be sold, many insiders think that at the very least a selective selloff of some magazines is possible.