PERL TO EXIT: Maurie Perl, for many years Condé Nast’s most powerful gatekeeper, a fixture from Tina Brown’s early tempestuous years at Vanity Fair through Condé’s recession years, is leaving in early February after two decades at the company.

“It’s an extraordinarily exciting time to be in the media business. I’m going to see what might be best for me to move into next,” she said.

This story first appeared in the January 9, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Over the years, Perl worked for a slew of media personalities, including Barbara Walters, mentored scores of younger publicists and kept at bay countless nosy reporters, all of whom invariably described her as a powerhouse and a mensch.

“Maurie’s made a fantastic contribution to Condé Nast for more than 20 years, and I not only found her a pleasure to work with, I’ve always regarded her as a dear friend,” said New Yorker editor David Remnick.

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Perl was brought to Condé in 1992 by Brown while she was at Vanity Fair. Within six months, they were both off to The New Yorker and a monthly dance of crisis management and stoking buzz.

“Maurie loves stories and loves to be in the heart of the action,” Brown said. “She doesn’t mind the crisis. She was absolutely geared to the fast pace of the media, and she still is.

“She’s more than a publicist. She’s a consiglieri. No one can see all the angles like her,” Brown said.

Condé Nast revealed Perl’s departure in an internal e-mail sent out Tuesday afternoon that said Condé Nast Entertainment hired the Rubenstein agency to handle all public and media relations. Perl would be leaving as a result, the memo said. At the same time, CNE said it had hired a new senior vice president, Robert Green, the executive producer of the online news channel Huffington Post Live.

CNE explained the need to switch to an agency as part of its “next phase,” when it’s “on track to launch a number of digital video channels and establish itself as a formidable player in the scripted TV and feature film arenas.” CNE president Dawn Ostroff has been on the job for a little over a year.

Prior to joining Condé Nast and throughout the Eighties, Perl was the public relations doyenne at ABC News, working on “20/20” and prime-time documentaries, and with Walters, who’s remained a friend — the two are part of the regular lunch group the Harpies. After The New Yorker, in 1998 Perl became responsible for all corporate communications at Condé Nast and had tremendous influence over the company’s public image. In 2010, when chief executive officer Charles Townsend ceded the title of president to Bob Sauerberg and Jill Bright became chief administrative officer, Bright was given oversight of Perl’s office. Last April, Perl was moved to handle the new entertainment division.

When reached on Tuesday, Perl sounded like someone with no interest in getting out of the game. “I had a great run, and I look forward to what the future holds,” she said. “I have no intention of retiring.”

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