They said it wouldn't last. After five tumultuous months, firebrand journalist Robert Sam Anson is no longer editor of Los Angeles magazine. A corporate press release Wednesday called the event "a parting of the ways." Insiders said Anson quit Friday but went back to work this week, only to be told to go back home.
Publisher Joan McCraw named No. 2 editor Marilyn Bethany as Anson's temporary replacement. The search is on for a permanent one.
Anson was the subject of a Times Sunday Profile last month that painted him as a bare- knuckled journalist with a short fuse who ignited dissent at the magazine. Sources inside the magazine said Anson wrote a reply to the story for the editor's note for the next issue. They said McCraw objected to that topic.
After speaking with his lawyer, Anson said Wednesday that he could not comment. Calls to McCraw were referred to a New York spokesman for parent company Capital Cities/ABC Inc.
After four issues under Anson, who replaced much of the staff, insiders braced for more tumult. "I hope it's the case that they'll keep me," said one new staffer.
Anson "came in, destroyed lives, families and careers, and then left in four months," said Rod Lurie, a film critic and director who quit the magazine after Anson arrived.
Depending on who you talked to, Anson was a savior or a saboteur for the 156,000- circulation monthly. Some critics praised the journalistic promise he brought to a magazine lamented for what they regarded as restaurant-guide-oriented journalism.
After all, this was a veteran magazine journalist who was punched out by Joe Frazier and imprisoned by the North Vietnamese.
Others said Anson was prone to temper tantrums and insensitivity toward women.
When he was appointed this spring, he came out swinging, publishing a piece of his own in which music mogul David Geffen calls Disney chief Michael Eisner a liar. His timing may not have been perfect, for soon after, Disney and Capital Cities/ABC announced their merger.
That would make Disney and Eisner--the subject of a critical and long simmering book Anson is writing--his employers.
"It looked like his days were numbered anyway because of the merger," said Charles Rappleye, LA Weekly's media critic. "I'm disappointed because I don't think he had time to put his stamp on the magazine."