A QUESTION OF TIME: Regime change is on the way at Time magazine — but don’t expect an invitation to Jim Kelly‘s send-off party anytime soon. While sources said Time Inc. has indeed commenced searching for a new managing editor to succeed Kelly, they added the timeline for the transition is far from worked out and will depend on who gets the job.

Lloyd Grove reported Friday in the New York Daily News that Kelly, a 27-year veteran of the newsweekly and its managing editor since 2001, will be stepping down “as early as June.” Kelly declined to comment, but several Time insiders said they had been led to believe he would stay on through the midterm Congressional elections in November. In any event, he almost certainly will remain with the company in a new capacity once the transition is complete, having signed a multiyear contract around the start of the year.

“That’s one good thing about Time Inc.,” said one source. “If you’ve put your head on the chopping block for them, they don’t just turf you out the door.”

An inside candidate obviously would make for the quickest handover, but the list of editors within Time or Time Inc. thought to be serious contenders is not long. Time’s deputy managing editor, Stephen Koepp is nearest to the throne, but lacks a larger-than-life personality, a definite asset for the job, say those who know him. “They go for those alpha males, and Steve’s not that,” said one source. Executive editor Priscilla Painton is friends with Time Inc. editor in chief John Huey, but sources question whether Huey — described by one as “a real Southern, macho guy who goes fishing on the weekends” — is prepared to give Time its first female managing editor. Eric Pooley, a Huey favorite, has yet to prove himself at Fortune, where he is managing editor, and Michael Duffy, an assistant managing editor at Time and former Washington bureau chief, is said to have taken himself out of contention.

But while Time Inc. historically has favored promotion from within to fill its most important jobs, some believe this time will be different. “There’s talk that Huey is such a maverick, he’ll go with someone from the outside,” said one source, speculating that he might make a high-profile, buzz-generating hire, even if that person would require a long acclimation period.

This story first appeared in the May 1, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Added another: “I would be disappointed and surprised if John doesn’t have a triumph up his sleeve.”

None of this explains why Huey is replacing Kelly, who, at 52, is by no means ready for retirement. Time Inc. has neither confirmed nor denied the switch, much less supplied a rationale, but timing seems to be one factor: Five years is the average tenure of a Time managing editor. But the magazine’s sliding circulation and ad sales surely are playing a role, noted one source: “If Time were up, they wouldn’t be making a change.”
Jeff Bercovici and Sara James

CASEY STRIKES OUT ON HER OWN: Change, it seems, is in the air all over at Time Inc. these days. Susan Casey, the company’s development editor, told WWD Friday that she will be leaving the company at the end of July. “I have another book that I’m working on, and I just think it’s time,” said Casey, whose nonfiction volume, “The Devil’s Teeth,” about a shark-infested California island with a dark past, became a New York Times bestseller last year. Her next book, she added, is “another ocean adventure.”

Casey came to Time Inc. from Outside, where she was creative director, in 1999 as an editor at large. In 2001, she was named managing editor of Sports Illustrated for Women, which folded the following year. Since then, she’s been development editor, but the project she worked longest on, a magazine and Web site about relationships called Love, never got the green light. Casey said she will continue to consult for Time Inc. on a project basis.