"The Great Life" is finally over: Veteran Hollywood Reporter party columnist George Christy has pooped out.

In a brief statement Thursday, the powerful trade paper announced the controversial Christy had "decided that he will no longer write" his column, which for 26 years has chronicled Tinseltown's "parties, premieres and charity events."

Before the decision--terms of which were not disclosed--was announced, Christy's fate at the paper had been in limbo for months, ever since he was suspended as the Reporter looked into a series of allegations.

In May, Christy was implicated in a slew of unethical journalistic practices, including claims by the Screen Actors Guild that he was bilking their pension and health-plans funds by taking credit for movie roles he didn't play.

In what became a big Hollywood brouhaha, three key Reporter journalists quit after the trade paper's publisher, Robert J. Dowling, refused to run a story on the Christy scandal. The author of the article, David Robb, resigned, as did film editor Beth Laski and top editor Anita Busch, whose previous complaints to Dowling about Christy's conduct had reined in some of the columnists more excessive behavior, such as free limo rides and his standing order that those movers and shakers who wanted to appear in his column pay for the use of his photographer.

Robb's exposé on Christy eventually appeared in Inside.com. The Reporter printed its own version, suspended the columnist and launched an internal investigation.

Christy, whom Robb also alleged worked rent-free in office space provided by a movie production company, has repeatedly denied all wrong-doing.

And while the resignation announcement ends an internal Reporter probe against Christy, an inquiry by SAG is still ongoing, as is a federal grand jury investigation.

The idiosyncratic writer and Hollywood scenester--who often dressed to please himself, whatever the party's dress code, and often requested special food and drink, whatever the menu--has always been the target of complaints from the entertainment community. But the gripes about his overbearing manner and his alleged solicitation of gifts were seldom heard above a whisper because most of the grousers hoped to be flattered by their picture or name dropped in his twice-weekly column. Supporters wrote off Christy's behavior as simply old-school entertainment journalism.

Before his suspension, Christy had twice before been the subject of a SAG investigation. A 1993 lawsuit was settled and a 1998 investigation docked $5,000 from his pension and health fund.

Many in the industry were surprised Christy didn't have the door slammed on him more quickly, especially after a controversy surrounding the journalism practices at rival trade paper Variety, which resulted in the brief suspension of editor Peter Bart

Busch, now freelancing for Premiere magazine and National Public Radio, feels that all the fall-out might have been avoided if "a harder look" had been taken at the first 1993 allegations. "Columnists must be held to the same standards as reporters and editors. That was what it was all about," she said Thursday.

Meanwhile, the spinmeisters are in overdrive. Christy's attorney, John Gatti, tells the Los Angeles Times that the columnist's departure "has nothing to do with any purported allegations against him. It was just time to move on." Christy will continue to write for San Francisco's Nob Hill Gazette and work as a commentator for Canadian television. And in his press release, Dowling says, "George's column was enjoyed by many people throughout the entertainment world, and we wish him well in his future endeavors."

But, in an article on Salon.com, Robb reports that Christy was "forced out" and that "the parting was anything but amicable."

The Reporter has no immediate plans to replace Christy. Hollywood's galas and gatherings will be covered by photos, captions and quotes in the paper's twice-weekly "Our Town" column.

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