TIME’S UP: By the time you read this, Time magazine may already have a new top editor.

At today’s 10 a.m. editorial meeting, Time Inc. editor in chief John Huey will introduce the newsweekly’s staff to its new managing editor, the identity of whom was still a well-guarded secret as of Tuesday night. Jim Kelly, managing editor since 2000, enacting a decades-old ritual, will consummate the change of command by handing over to the incoming editor a pewter pencil cup that originally belonged to Henry Luce, Time’s founding editor.

Kelly, whose accession to Time Inc.’s corporate floor has been an open secret for several weeks, got his new portfolio Tuesday: Starting June 15, he will be the company’s managing editor, overseeing ethics and editorial standards for all titles and participating in the recruitment of outside talent and crisis management. “For the geek in me, it’s an interesting, meaty assignment,” he said. “I’ll certainly miss looking at pictures and talking about layouts, but I’m not going to get any better at that.” Kelly’s staff toasted his new title at a late-afternoon champagne “pour,” where the guests included his mother.

The search for his successor was concluded within the past few days. Whatever the outcome, Huey evidently has enjoyed the deliberation process. “He’s been getting a charge out of it,” said one person close to him. “It’s become a way to curry favor, sending these lists [of suspected candidates] around. The more preposterous the names, the better.”

Among the potentials bandied about both within Time Inc. and without have been Time’s own Stephen Koepp, Priscilla Painton and Michael Duffy; Kurt Andersen; Richard Stengel; Eric Pooley; Rick Tetzeli; Terry McDonell; Adam Moss; Jon Meacham; Jacob Weisberg; Michael Kinsley; Tina Brown and, perhaps most implausibly, former executive editor of The New York Times Howell Raines. Multiple sources within Time Inc. believed the likely choice would be someone who currently is an outsider but who served a stint at the magazine in the past.

This story first appeared in the May 17, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Kelly couldn’t be persuaded to divulge the identity of the new editor ahead of time, but he offered some hints: “Time is a mass magazine, and its primary audience is not New York,” he said. “It has to be seen as a magazine that isn’t unduly partisan in either direction. There are candidates that have made their reputations on being either highly New York-centric or politically plugged into one or the other party. With that in mind, it narrows the field somewhat.”

Not enough for curious types, though. “It really could be a complete surprise for the first time ever,” said one longtime Time Inc. editor.
Jeff Bercovici and Sara James

ALMOST HAD HIM: The New York Times’ business reporter Tim O’Brien was all set to leave for the still-unnamed Condé Nast business magazine as a senior writer this week, and had, in fact, even tendered his resignation and announced his departure from the Times as of Monday. But by Tuesday morning, Condé Nast learned he’d had a change of heart. Instead, O’Brien was offered, and accepted, the job editing the Times’ Sunday Business section, a post left vacant since its former tenant, Jim Impoco, left for the Condé Nast business magazine in December. In a staff memo, the Times’ business and financial editor Larry Ingrassia said, “Tim is a talented and versatile reporter and a graceful writer who has amazing range and a great depth of business knowledge … Now, rather than just benefiting from the smart stories he writes, we will benefit from the pixie dust that he will be sprinkling over many, many stories.” Ingrassia did not say where the pixie dust comes from.

NOT IN THE ENTOURAGE: Maer Roshan may have an office, a staff and an almost messianic compulsion to restart Radar magazine, but one thing he doesn’t have is the backing of Endeavor talent agent Ari Emmanuel. A spokesperson for Endeavor denied a report in Tuesday’s WWD that Emmanuel, who failed to respond beforehand to calls for comment, is part of a coalition of investors supplying funding for the relaunch. It’s just as well; assuming billionaire Ron Burkle doesn’t pull out, Radar will have all the conflicts of interest one magazine needs.