Little on Robert Dowling’s early resume screamed Hollywood energy dealer.
The New York native had labored as a commerce publication editor and writer for American Druggist, Excessive-Tech Advertising and marketing, Menswear and Sports activities Advertising and marketing Information. He’d additionally developed a knack for revitalizing underperformers, which was the very definition of the Hollywood Reporter in 1988. Lagging far behind leisure trade commerce information chief Every day Selection, the Hollywood Reporter, based in 1930, was shedding a few $1 million a 12 months when Dowling was supplied the job as president.
“He didn’t know anything about the industry or anybody. But he jumped at the opportunity — he’d always been a huge fan of entertainment,” his son Michael Dowling informed The Occasions. “Working in publishing in New York in those days, he saw that the entertainment industry was evolving to become more of a business.”
Dowling died Friday at his dwelling in Santa Monica after a brief battle with most cancers, his son mentioned.
The revered former writer was 83.
After Dowling moved his household to Los Angeles from Westport, Conn., for the job in September 1988, he plunged into his new function with a listening tour and shortly obtained up to the mark. He led the Hollywood Reporter for almost 20 years, together with 14 years as writer and editor in chief, serving to to form the five-day-a-week commerce paper right into a worthwhile and formidable competitor to Selection and different publications that cowl leisure.
He boosted the paper with particular editions and occasions, such because the annual Ladies in Leisure breakfast, the Key Artwork Awards program (now generally known as the Clio Awards), a Subsequent Era initiative and by launching THR East, a PDF version for East Coast readers. Considered one of Dowling’s proudest achievements was forging a web based presence with the 1995 launch of THR.com — a couple of years earlier than Selection took the digital leap.
The web site stays a must-read within the trade.
Dowling’s tenure spanned a time when reader curiosity for leisure information was surging, whereas studio publicists more and more tried to manage information and publicity about their stars, movies and high executives.
Dowling was delicate to their issues. He as soon as killed a proposed story on “The 100 Worst Movies of All Time,” a transfer that some former staff alleged was prompted by complaints by studios, which supplied promoting income. Dowling acknowledged in an interview with The Occasions that he did kill the story however mentioned it was for philosophical, not financial, causes.
In a 2001 flap, three outstanding journalists stop after Dowling pulled a reporter off an investigative story concerning the paper’s social gathering columnist, who allegedly had accepted favors from film studios.
Dowling felt the matter was “best handled by human resources,” in accordance with the Hollywood Reporter. The Occasions reported in 2001 that THR finally printed a brief story, citing a Display screen Actors Guild investigation into the columnist’s ethics. The Hollywood Reporter additionally famous cases wherein Dowling backed his reporters regardless of stress from businesses and studios to kill sure tales.
“He once told me that news in the entertainment industry, any industry, was the ante in the game,” Michael Dowling mentioned. “He came to the conclusion that what was going to attract readers, attract staff and attract advertisers would be respect. So everything he did was about building respect for the paper.”
Following an possession change that introduced a brand new company tradition, Dowling left after THR was acquired by Dutch media large VNU, which on the time owned Nielsen Media Analysis and Billboard journal. VNU needed its U.S.-based executives positioned in New York however Dowling acknowledged that wouldn’t work.
Dowling informed The Occasions in 2005 that leaving was bittersweet.
“I didn’t hear a standing ovation for me walking out the door,” he mentioned. “But I think they’re disappointed.”
His successor lasted lower than a 12 months within the job.
Born on New York’s Lengthy Island on Sept. 16, 1939, his early years had been tumultuous.
Dowling’s mom gave him up at start and he spent his early years in a collection of foster properties earlier than being adopted. He would later say the expertise helped him develop a capability to instinctively acknowledge motivations and assess conditions.
“That sense of abandonment really drove him,” his son mentioned. “He said to me that when he’d go into these foster homes, he had to figure out the environment around him quickly. He never wanted to do anything that would upset the balance, or draw too much attention to himself, [out of concern] he might get abandoned again.”
In 1965, Dowling met the love of his life, Juanita Wealthy, and so they married. Collectively they raised three sons.
Past his household, Dowling liked masking the leisure trade.
“He was moved by the music and he cared about the full production of a movie — not just the stars or the above-the-line talent,” Michael Dowling mentioned. “He loved the crafts, he loved the arts. He was so appreciative of the skills and talents that people brought to their jobs.”
Dowling is survived by his spouse of 56 years, Juanita, their kids and their spouses: Rob (Diane) Dowling, Michael (Gia) Dowling and Matthew (Anna) Dowling; his seven grandchildren, PJ, Larissa, Lena, Devan, Ella, Miles and Radley; and his canine, Ok.C.