Hollywood upstart TheWrap.com is getting a leading role with Reuters (NYSE: TRI). The wire service and the startup founded by Sharon Waxman in 2009 are expanding their relationship, with TheWrap replacing The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard as Reuters’ lead provider of entertainment news effective today. One result is a serious expansion into criticism to meet Reuter’s needs.
The relationship with Reuters began last year with aggregation through Reuters America. This runs deeper. TheWrap will provide reviews, along with coverage of movie, television, music and media news. “Reuters clients need and expect reviews, so we needed to expand to meet that demand,” Waxman explained.
Waxman has hired Alonso Duralde as a lead movie critic along with Leah Rozen, who already reviews movies for the site. Duralde’s varied background includes festival programming, DVD editor at Movieline, writing about film for MSNBC.com and others, and arts and entertainment editor at The Advocate. Chris Willman, the author of Rednecks and Bluenecks: The Politics of Country Music, joins as lead music reviewer and reporter; he’s written for Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly and others.
In addition to being syndicated to Reuters, which doesn’t do reviews, their work will appear in a new vertical on the site featuring criticism of TV, movies and music. It’s the latest in a series of expansion moves for the site backed by Seattle VC firm Maveron, which includes Starbucks (NSDQ: SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz. TheWrap acquired film project database ItsOnTheGrid earlier this year, and added an Indies vertical. Last month, Waxman brought on veteran entertainment writer Fred Schruers as a senior writer.