Well, it happened again this week. On Tuesday, I learned that Michael Weaver, Caesars Entertainment's vice president for marketing, is leaving. Then I heard he would be following his old boss, Marilyn Winn Spiegel, who in November became Wynn Las Vegas president and promptly persuaded Steve Wynn to shut down the beloved Alex.
But if Weaver were heading to Wynn, where would that leave Jennifer Dunne, vice president for public relations and advertising? On Wednesday, I texted her, and we had this exchange:
Friess: Hey...Are you leaving Wynn?
Dunne: Where did that come from? Good lordy!!!
Friess: Well, Michael Weaver is leaving Harrah's and I'm hearing he's following Marilyn to Wynn. But he and you do similar things, so...
Dunne: I hear he is a great guy! Do you know him?
Friess: Yes. He's a very good egg. Interesting you haven't actually answered either question.
Dunne: You are so funny! I would look forward to working with him if he is coming to Wynn. :-)
Huh. Well, about a half-hour ago, Dunne sent out this email:
with Wynn Resorts, effective today. I do not have any firm plans but
intend to take some time off and visit family and friends. I will be in
touch once I settle in somewhere. I have really enjoyed working with you
on this exciting Wynn experience and look forward to crossing paths on
the next adventure!
This is really a toughie for me. Weaver and Dunne are two of the most consummate professionals I've dealt with as a Vegas journalist. After my initial surprise at Dunne's announcement, it dawned on me maybe she didn't know this earlier in the week. Of course, there's no official confirmation that Weaver's going to Wynn, but it does seem likely.
(UPDATE: Dunne tells me she left Wynn of her own volition and made the decision, which had been percolating in her mind, after our text exchange. Also, she confirmed Weaver starts at Wynn on Monday in a new VP position created for him.)
Also today we learned that Jacqueline Peterson, a top corporate spokeswoman for Caesars, also is leaving the company. So perhaps Jacqueline is taking Dunne's gig? Time will tell. Wynn's publicist in charge of food and beverage, Katie Conway, also left last month. She followed her husband, a chef who had gotten a big job in L.A. So there are openings.
This all may seem like inside baseball, except that it is interesting that there's this shift of executives from Caesars Entertainment to Wynn and what that could mean for how the company is actually managed on a day-to-day basis locally. Moving from the Pascal/Poster/Breitling/Dunne world to a Winn/Weaver world is a distinctive change. Weaver's biggest contribution to Caesars Entertainment was as the innovator who went aggressively after such niche markets as gays and Hispanics. I'm not sure Wynncore needs much help with the gays.
The big question is, does all of this imply Steve Wynn is emotionally detaching from Wynncore Vegas to the point that he just wants very highly skilled people who will maximize profits? If so, it's fair to ask at what cost to the property and its image this may come.
While I'm on the media kick for this Friday, I ought to take note that Michael Hiesiger, the longtime business editor of the Review-Journal, was let go yesterday. No immediate replacement has been named, but it's interesting because this is the first big staffing change under the new regime of publisher Bob Brown and new editor Mike Hengel.
It's also surprising because if I had to pick a department in need of an overhaul at the R-J, the business section isn't one that would instantly spring to mind. I'd make a beeline, as loyal readers know, to the online division, which is an inane operation run by clueless people as frequently noted here, and then to a features section desperate for new life and purpose.
The business coverage is fine and often exemplary, as is the local news division. The only way these sections could be made substantially better would be to hire more reporters, but the editors of each do pretty well with the small set of overworked scribes they're allotted.
One theory: Has the new publisher, formerly the advertising director, been getting earfuls from advertisers about how they're covered? That might explain why Hiesiger's the first head to roll. Other department heads are understandably nervous, but I just can't make a whole lot of sense of why Brown and Hengel would take aim at this area first if they're taking a full inventory of their strengths and weaknesses.
Meanwhile, I'm also hearing that Review-Journal subscriptions have surged in the past three months since Sherman Frederick and Thomas Mitchell were ousted from their publisher-editor jobs. I had heard they're up 8,000, and I asked Bob Brown about that in an email before the Hiesiger thing came to onto my radar. Brown wrote back:
Honestly, any circulation increase is impressive in these tough times for print media. I am, indeed, looking forward to those new numbers.