The Case Of The Vanished Owner, The Silent V.P. & The Newspaper That Got Scooped On Its Own Sale, Possibly

As you may well have heard by now, the following item appeared in Michael Klein’s Inqlings column in this Sunday’s Inquirer:

The Philadelphia Weekly is on the market, according to publishing sources around town. I hear that the asking price for the freebie formerly known as the Welcomat is north of $25 million and that Review Publishing LP has signed confidentiality statements with prospects. It’s not clear whether other Review papers — the Atlantic City Weekly and the South Philly Review and the Southwest Philadelphia Review — are involved. Neither publisher Anthony A. Clifton [NOT pictured], who’s owned the paper for 20 years, nor vice president Jim Stokes returned calls and e-mails seeking comment. “It would be a shock to me,” said editor Tim Whitaker.

Philebrity did due diligence in digging it out of the bowels of the Inky, and then cleverly slapped on the infamous pigeon cover yet again and affixed it with typical one-note snark and sweet, sweet vindictiveness. No news there. We, on the other hand, actually did some reporting. That’s right, we called Steve Volk — you know, tireless chronicler of all things Beanie, the man who fearlessly shines his disinfecting sunshine in the dark places where meth meets gay. Well, Steve-O wasn’t into it. But after threatening to make up inflammatory and obscenity-spattered quotes out of whole cloth and attribute them to STEVE VOLK, we were finally able to coax the following comment from him:

“It was an eerily normal Monday despite the Klein column. You know, everyone running around trying to get the paper out the door, but it did seem a little odd to me that nobody involved in the ownership of the paper called us together to address the story at all.”

Hmm, that sure is odd, Steve. The silence of their denial is positively deafening. So, Phawker then called owner Anthony Clifton [NOT pictured]. We were told he is on vacation for the week. When we demanded that they prove Anthony Clifton is alive and well and not drugged-up and being held against his will in some Las Vegas Penthouse, with long hair and really long fingernails, walking around with Kleenex boxes for slippers, they hung up. Read into that what you will.

Meanwhile, Jim Stokes refuses to answer his phone (JIM, IT’S ME, PICK UP!) and is reportedly walking around grinning like the cat who swallowed the canary and making that zipping-shut-his-mouth gesture if anyone dares brook the subject….DEVELOPING

UPDATE: “Informed observers speculate that Philadelphia Media Holdings, which owns the Daily News and Inqwaster, is among bidders for the Philadelphia Weekly, which has quietly gone on the market. ‘All I can say is no comment,’ PMH CEO Brian Tierney told us yesterday when asked if the company was bidding on the paper. A recent Inqwaster report said that nondisclosure agreements were signed between Review Publishing, owner of PW, and potential bidders. Anthony Clifton, president of Review Publishing, which also owns the South Philly Review, Southwest Philly Review and Atlantic City Weekly, did not immediately return calls last night.” [Dan Gross]

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