HECTIC TIMES: It’s going to be a busy month at The New York Times.

This story first appeared in the January 6, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

As staffers return from vacations, hungover but elated with the change in atmosphere, executive editor Bill Keller is overseeing what is bound to be a decisive month in his tenure. As one source said, “There certainly are a lot of positions to fill.”

At the book review, cultural czar Adam Moss has begun meeting with candidates to replace Chip McGrath. According to several sources familiar with the situation, Moss has talked to Robert McCrum, the literary editor of The Guardian’s Sunday Obsever and the husband of The New York Times’ London correspondent Sarah Lyall. McCrum is well regarded, but a Times insider said he has radical plans to change the section and that could prove to be “too much.” Also believed to be on the list is Sarah Crichton, the former publisher of Little Brown and former Newsweek editor, though some wondered whether her “perfectionist” tendencies as an editor hadn’t overtaken her ability to get a section done on deadline. New Yorker editorial director Henry Finder has been spoken to as well, but he doesn’t seem to be interested.

The paper is also gearing up to replace business editor Glenn Kramon, who was promoted a couple of months ago to associate managing editor, career development. Kramon’s previous job may go to one of the section’s current deputies, though. The top job at the science desk is also open and foreign editor Roger Cohen has to be replaced. The dominant gossip at the Times centers around him being replaced by Susan Schira, the editorial director of book development. Ethan Bronner, assistant editorial page editor, is also believed to be up for the foreign editor job, though that seems less likely. Either way, Times insiders have spent more time gossiping about what happened to Cohen, whom several said had been the first Howell Raines-era editor to be demoted by Keller.

There were significant problems with what sources described as Cohen’s heavy-handed management style, and Keller had reportedly told him months ago that his attitude needed to change.

Meanwhile, at Sunday Styles, word is that section editor Trip Gabriel may have to find a temporary replacement for Alex Kuczynski. Kuczynski had been on leave penning a book on plastic surgery, but did not finish by the time she returned last month and now wants to take more time off, according to a source. Kuczynski could not be reached for comment. — Jacob Bernstein

WELCOME BACK. NOW GET OUT: The few full-timers left at Fashion Wire Daily had a New Year’s surprise waiting for them at their Chelsea offices Monday morning — an eviction notice. “I know for a fact they haven’t paid their rent since July,” one source close to the company said. One of the company’s neighbors spotted the notice taped to the door.

An eviction, if it happens, might not be a huge inconvenience for the staff, which has been mostly virtual since November, when president and editor Godfrey Deeny stepped down and moved back to Europe. Majority owner Dr. Avraham Kadar assumed day-to-day control of the site (while continuing to work at his practice in Westchester County) while laying off the majority of the staff and replacing them with a new team of freelancers. “Something’s sure going on over there,” said a building employee interviewed on the scene by WWD. “There were 20 people, and now there’s one or two.”

It wouldn’t be the company’s first move under duress, either. When founder and chief executive Brandusa Niro quit under pressure almost two years ago, she had the last laugh by asking the landlord to lock the company out of its offices…because the lease was in her name. The company decamped upstairs to its current, disputed location.

A spokeswoman for the company described the notice as an “oversight,” an apparently unfortunate side effect of Kadar’s ongoing renegotiation of the lease. Kadar had been unable to wrap it up due to his holiday travel schedule, the spokeswoman said, but would be driving in from Westchester today to settle the matter. A spokesman for JH Management Co., which runs the building, said, “I know that anybody who doesn’t pay their rent on time isn’t looked upon favorably by their landlord, but I really can’t comment on that tenant at this time.”

Meanwhile, Kadar is said to be eagerly shopping the site, while his spokeswoman said the opposite is true. “He’s been approached by several eager buyers, but he is not interested in selling.” — Greg Lindsay