The lead item in Page Six this morning — “Richard Johnson LA-Bound” — announced that after almost 25 years running the New York Post gossip column, Mr. Johnson is leaving to work on “new digital ventures for News Corp.” in Los Angeles.
Over the summer, Richard Beckman tried to grab Mr. Johnson for The Hollywood Reporter in Los Angeles, but the Page Sixer couldn’t get out of his contract with the Post. “I love Page Six and The Post,” Mr. Johnson said in the announcement, “but I’ve always wanted to give Los Angeles a try.”
Page Six will be left in the hands of Emily Smith, who “cut her teeth on Fleet Street.” She is a former U.S. editor of The Sun. Nobody on the Page Six team has been on the column for much more than a year. Mr. Johnson’s departure is probably bittersweet news for veteran Frank Digiacomo at the Daily News who is reviving Gatecrasher. The men are former colleagues, and gossip is more fun with competion. In 2004, Mr. Johnson spoke to Mr. DiGiacomo for a story in Vanity Fair about the history Page Six:
JOHNSON: “We’re publishing seven days a week now, and I’ve run stories sometimes which I didn’t really want to run, just because I needed to run them to fill the space. And the people I work with think that the column should be really hard-hitting. I’m constantly toning down stuff where there’s an adjective in front of somebody’s name which is just sort of gratuitously nasty. And some of that, of course, gets in.”
Mr. Johnson’s departure will surely bring about different rememberances of his time at the column. We’d like to nominate an item for his all-time best list from earlier this week actually, “Stevie Wonder enjoys Las Vegas house of horror tour.“