Rick Tetzeli
July 09, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Each week, for more than 13 years, the man pictured above has been skewering the principalities and powers of pop culture in these pages. Over that time, Jim Mullen has turned his Hot Sheet into something synonymous with Entertainment Weekly. For many of our readers, Hot Sheet has been the humorous appetizer to the rest of the magazine. In this issue you’ll find Jim’s 650th — and last — Hot Sheet. The King (Stephen) is still here, but the Jester has left the building.

Long before ”The Daily Show,” before E!, before blogs — heck, way back before Britney’s first wedding — Jim’s pop shots found their mark not just in entertainment but in the broader culture as well. His very first column, from the Feb. 15, 1991, issue, included several riffs on the Gulf War. And in even more of a sign that everything comes around eventually, that same first column included a jab at a fledgling actress named Sofia Coppola (”So Lassie is a better actor — ‘The Godfather Part III’ isn’t ‘King Lear,’ either”) who later morphed into an Oscar-worthy director and screenwriter. The amazing thing about Jim is that he’s been able to keep his column fresh even as trends and celebrities come and go and come back again.

For the last 10 years, he’s been writing the column from an isolated farm in upstate New York. ”It’s not off the grid, but it’s next door to it,” Jim says. ”Cell phones don’t work here, and there’s no cable.” Mullen wrote about his move from Manhattan to greener acres in ”It Takes a Village Idiot,” and his other books include ”Baby’s First Tattoo” and ”My First Wedding.” (His weekly column, The Village Idiot, goes out to about 600 small-town newspapers.) ”Face it,” he says, ”Britney and Ozzy don’t need my help to look silly. It’s time for me to write about my life, not theirs.”

The good news is we’ve got two terrific homegrown stars ready to step in. Senior writer Dalton Ross has developed quite a fan club through his What to Watch column. As one passionate reader recently put it, ”I’d like Dalton to be my boyfriend, so he could make me laugh and tickle me….” Um, okay. Well, with Dalton’s voice enlivening new nooks and crannies of the magazine, more readers may be tickled to laughter. Starting next issue, you’ll find Dalton in a bunch of new places: as a columnist in the front of the book, with his own entry called the Hit List; as the lead critic for our DVD reviews section; and as a regular feature writer (for a taste of his humor in long form, check out this issue’s Bruce Campbell feature).

Also starting next issue, correspondent Alynda Wheat will take over for Dalton on What to Watch. A self-described TV junkie since she was in diapers (early favorite: ”The Muppet Show”), Alynda has filled in ably for Dalton over the past year. A sharp-witted critic with a unique take on the tube, Alynda’s sure to carry on the What to Watch tradition in the finest style. Which ultimately is what we’re trying to do here every week — give you the best of entertainment, with a perspective that you can’t get anywhere else.

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