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Status of Rolling Stone's veteran movie critic Peter Travers uncertain amid magazine drama

The fate of Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers, one of the most established media personalities in the film industry, was thrown into uncertainty Thursday night after the company sought a downgrade in his employment status.

Two people who work at Rolling Stone parent company Wenner Media said that Travers had been asked to move from a staff position to a contractor by company founder and chief Jann Wenner. Travers, a 26-year-veteran of the magazine, bristled at the suggestion and threatened to leave the publication entirely. There was no clear resolution as of Thursday night. The staffers asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

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Asked about Travers' status, Kathryn Brenner, a Wenner Media spokeswoman, said in an email, "I can confirm he is still with Rolling Stone. He is our movie critic now and will continue to be, and he is not leaving the magazine for as far into the future as we can speak." Brenner did not respond to a question about whether he had been moved to a contractor position.

In an email Friday morning, Travers said he and Wenner were trying to work out a deal and that he was "confident" it would be reached soon."No shouting matches, slammed doors or threats of lawyers" he said,  "just the mundane details of negotiating an agreement." The pact would keep the critic's output the same as under his previous employment status, Travers said.

Travers is one of the best known film critics in the country, and is cited often in movie campaigns because of his name recognition and his reputation for generosity in reviewing some films. He is known for an accessible writing style and is a prolific reviewer, having published thousands of reviews since he joined the iconic countercultural publication in 1989.

The developments comes just a day after Rolling Stone's managing editor Will Dana resigned, and in the wake of larger cuts in recent months at Wenner Media publications, which also include Us Weekly and Men's Journal.

The news was said to come as a surprise to some Wenner staffers, with Travers continuing to maintain his active pace. He reviewed this week's two major releases, "Vacation" and "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" for the outlet.

It follows a series of exits by critics in recent years, particularly veterans who were heavily associated with a single publication. In 2012, J. Hoberman was let go by the Village Voice, and, in April, Owen Gleiberman was laid off by Entertainment Weekly.

In June, another veteran Rolling Stone writer, David Fricke, was moved to a contract position. At the time, then-editor Dana tweeted, "To be clear: David Fricke isn't leaving Rolling Stone. He's still a Sr Writer and he'll be in the magazine and on the site as much as ever."

Twitter: @ZeitchikLAT

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