NO MORE TOP BRASS: Will top editors who are removed from Time Inc. titles still be rewarded with a cushy job on the corporate side? That’s what insiders wondered after news of Jim Kelly’s retirement from Time Inc., as reported Friday by The New York Post. Kelly spent 28 years at Time, ending his tenure as managing editor from 2001 to 2006. He was then promoted to the corporate-level role of Time Inc. managing editor. In that role, Kelly worked alongside Time Inc. editor in chief John Huey, setting policies on issues like standards and ethics, pre-publication vetting of controversial stories and recruitment of outside editorial talent.

Insiders at Time Inc. have long perceived gigs on the 34th floor of Time Inc.’s headquarters as a soft landing pad for editors who were uprooted from their top jobs. Once there, editors have usually worked on projects with Huey until they either found a new job or left of their own accord. When Eric Pooley was removed as Fortune managing editor, Huey said he would take on “an assignment [with him and Kelly] that plays to his strengths in investigative journalism.” After a brief stint as Time editor at large, Pooley got a book deal and left the company. Scott Mowbray, the former editorial director of Time4Media (which was sold to Bonnier in 2007), was named Time Inc. executive editor eight months before the sale. He later became editor of, but left Time Inc. at the end of 2008. When Rick Tetzeli was removed as Entertainment Weekly managing editor in January, he was upped to Time Inc. editor at large and remains at the company. “It’s the holding pattern until they kick you out of there,” said one former Time Inc. editor.

This story first appeared in the March 16, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

But with the recession squeezing magazine publishers’ profits, the days of the 34th-floor fade-out may be disappearing. A Time Inc. spokeswoman said all of the editors in the corporate suite have specific duties and often move from the 34th floor to various titles. “Time Inc. has a history of employing some of the most gifted and accomplished editorial talent in the world,” she said. “Anyone who believes corporate editorial jobs at Time Inc. are cushy clearly has never held one.”

— Stephanie D. Smith and Irin Carmon

WHO’S INNOVATING IN A RECESSION?: Out with the conference, in with the summit. The New Yorker has jettisoned its two-year-old, two-day Innovation Conference, held at a symbol of more flush times — the Frank Gehry-designed InterActiveCorp. building — with an equally exuberant price tag of $1,200. Instead, the magazine will host a $350, one-day summit on President Obama’s first 100 days, with New Yorker writers interviewing the likes of Howard Dean, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, special envoy Richard Holbrooke, former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, author Naomi Klein, and economist Jeffrey Sachs.

“These are different and unusual times we’re in, and I wanted the magazine to respond directly,” said director of special events Rhonda Sherman, adding, “It’s not going to be about glamour. It’s about information and what we need now to deal with the times we’re in.”

Both New Yorker editor David Remnick, who is writing a book about Obama and race in America, and Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza, who is writing a book about Obama’s first year, are participating, and Malcolm Gladwell is giving a keynote.

Like most titles, the magazine (which is owned by WWD parent Condé Nast) could use the revenue stream: Media Industry Newsletter reported its ad pages were down 31 percent, to 189, through March 17. The New Yorker recently scrapped plans to have 10 days of events as an extension of the annual New Yorker Festival in October, in its 10th anniversary this fall. The extra events were said to be the idea of then-publisher Drew Schutte, who left for a corporate digital role and was succeeded by Lisa Hughes.

— I.C.