Bill Zwecker, one of Chicago’s premier celebrity columnists and entertainment reporters for decades, is the latest marquee personality to be forced out at the Sun-Times, sources confirmed Thursday.
The elimination of Zwecker’s position after 26 years at the Sun-Times follows the ouster last week of longtime theater critic Hedy Weiss, as the paper’s new owners struggle to cut costs and redefine their coverage of arts and entertainment.
Both Zwecker, 69, and Sun-Times editor-in-chief Chris Fusco declined to comment Thursday, with sources indicating that terms of Zwecker’s separation agreement have not been finalized. While his last day on the payroll will be today, sources said, the Sun-Times hopes Zwecker will return as a freelance contributor.
In addition to his work on the show biz beat, Zwecker has been a loyal ambassador for the paper among Chicago’s movers and shakers. But his loyalty was not always reciprocated. In 2015 Zwecker was reduced to part-time status under previous Sun-Times ownership, following a redesign of the paper with content from USA Today.
Since July 2017 the Sun-Times has been owned by an investment group headed by CEO Edwin Eisendrath. Additional cuts of higher paid employees are believed to be inevitable as Eisendrath seeks to turn the legacy newspaper company into a profitable digital media enterprise. By all accounts, it’s a tall order.
Zwecker continues as an entertainment contributor and film critic for Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32. It’s his second stint at Fox 32, which followed similar positions at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 and NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5.
A Chicago native and second-generation newspaper star (his late mother, Peg Zwecker, was the fashion editor of the Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News), Zwecker grew up in Oak Park and River Forest and graduated from Oak Park-River Forest High School and Princeton University. He also attended the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He joined the Sun-Times in 1992 after five years as associate editor and columnist for the Lerner Newspapers.
In December Zwecker married Chicago Realtor Tom Gorman, his partner of 17½ years.