L.A. Times editor resigns after Grazer section killed

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The Los Angeles Times' editorial page editor resigned Thursday after the publisher decided to not publish Sunday's special opinion section, the newspaper reported on its Web site.

The section was quashed to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest in the selection of a Hollywood producer as a guest editor, according to the paper.

The issue surfaced after it was learned that the editorial pages editor, Andres Martinez, had been dating a public relations executive, Kelly Mullens, who did work for producer Brian Grazer, the Times said.

The Grazer opinion section was killed.

The Times said Publisher David D. Hiller weighed running an editor's note to disclose the relationship, but decided to kill the section instead.

The Times' Web site quoted a posting by Martinez in the newspaper's "Opinion" blog.

"David Hiller's decision to kill the Brian Grazer section this Sunday makes my continued tenure as Los Angeles Times editorial page editor untenable. The person in this job needs to have an unimpeachable integrity, and Hiller's decision amounts to a vote of no confidence in my continued leadership," he wrote.

A call by The Associated Press seeking comment from the Times was not immediately returned.

Hiller announced his decision to kill the section in a gathering of editors, LATimes.com reported.

"I think it's fair to say that we got ourselves into a predicament and we should not have let it happen," Hiller said.

The publisher said the paper would put together an alternative section for Sunday's paper.

In a story published in the Times' Thursday business section, Martinez said Grazer was chosen on his own merits.

"Given his well-known intellectual curiosity and his track record in the industry, Brian Grazer is a terrific choice to guest-edit Current," Martinez said. "This was not just my judgment, but the judgment of two other senior editors and the newspaper's publisher."

Martinez, who has been head of opinions and editorials for 18 months, said Hiller was not aware of his relationship with Mullens when the publisher approved Grazer's selection.

Mullens said in a statement that her relationship with Martinez had nothing to do with Grazer's assignment at the Times.

"I believe my personal relationships are a private matter," Mullens said. "That said, I have a great respect and a keen understanding of journalism and journalistic ethics. I have never let my personal relationships interfere with my work and any suggestion to the contrary is insulting and untrue."

The Times recently announced that "Current" will have a quarterly guest editor. The writers for Sunday's planned section were assembled by Grazer.

Grazer runs Imagine Entertainment with Ron Howard. They won the best picture Oscar for "A Beautiful Mind."
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