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2009 May 6

Under Observation

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(NEW YORK) The hunt for a replacement for recently departed Observer editor Peter Kaplan is officially under way. "They're doing it on their own," said Karen Danziger of Howard Sloan Koller, leading recruiter to the edit set, nixing rumors that she had been tapped by Jared Kushner to lead the charge. Sources at the paper say deputy editor Tom McGeveran remains the staff favorite, and recently asked Kushner for a six-month trial period to prove his mettle; no word on whether his request was granted.

Meanwhile, morale is downright gloomy as staffers face an uncertain future. McGeveran aside, several names have been floated outside the paper as potential candidates for the job--Maer Roshan, late of Radar, Steve Garbarino, late of Maxim…Joanne Lipman (gasp!), late of Portfolio, to name a few--though a media world consensus has yet to emerge. Even Daily Beast helmer Tina Brown--who already has a job, would want a cut of the business, has mountains of baggage, and would never deign to do it--has been bandied about as a contender. (Wouldn’t that be fun?)

“They desperately need a positive story to tell their advertisers, and they’re only going to get that with a splashy hire,” said one veteran ad exec.

Amidst all the uncertainty, a number of intriguing what-ifs have been circulating. Our favorite? That Rupert Murdoch could provide his new friend, Jared, with a much-needed exit strategy by folding the Observer into his growing stable of outer-borough weeklies, like The Brooklyn Paper, which he purchased last month.

“Maybe all of Jared’s kowtowing will finally pay off,” laughed one wag. “Stranger things have happened.” No matter what happens, further cutbacks sound imminent. In fact, Kushner just fired the cleaning lady.




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