Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing is expected to oust CEO Daniel Brewster as early as Thursday, after a tumultuous tenure that included several ill-timed deals and a stinging battle with talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. The New York-based publisher of Family Circle and Parents declined to comment, as did its corporate parent, Bertelsmann. Brewster did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Brewster, 48, a former executive at Time Warner Inc.'s Time Inc. and American Express Publishing Corp., was hired in 2000 to help boost G+J's profile in the United States.
But his tenure has been marred by several embarrassing episodes, including the high-profile legal battle with O'Donnell over Rosie, the magazine they jointly published. The case quickly became tabloid fodder because of O'Donnell's celebrity and a flurry of accusations from both sides over who was responsible for the magazine's collapse. On Brewster's watch, G+J acquired the business-focused Fast Company and Inc. just as the Internet stock bubble was bursting. Axel Ganz, a board member of G+J in Germany and head of its international publications, was in New York to meet with Brewster, the source familiar with the matter told Reuters. Ganz could take over as a caretaker CEO while the publisher looks for a permanent replacement, the source said.
Brewster met with the company's staff on Tuesday and acknowledged he believed he was about to be fired, according to The New York Times, citing two unidentified company executives. Last year's Rosie trial appeared to end in a draw when the judge said G+J's case was "ill-conceived." But no formal ruling has yet been issued. O'Donnell's lawyers contended that G+J finagled circulation data--a charge the company vehemently denied. But facing increased scrutiny from advertisers over the accuracy of its circulation reporting, the company said it would launch independent sales audits of all of its titles and announced the resignation of its top circulation executive.