Time Magazine cover for January 27, 2014.

Magazine monolith Time Inc. on Tuesday began laying off workers as the company gets ready to be spun off from TV/entertainment company Time Warner. According to the New York Times, as many as 500 jobs may be lost as a result of the reductions. The cuts will be “painful,” remarked CEO Joseph A. Ripp.

One person who’ll likely be spared the pain will be Norman Pearlstine, whose hiring as executive vice president and chief content officer was announced last fall. The move marked a return for Pearlstine, who had worked as served as the editor-in-chief of the company from 1995 to 2005, a period during which he led the company’s controversial maneuverings in the Valerie Plame case. He came back to Time Inc. from Bloomberg LP.

According to an SEC filing, Pearlstine has a three-year contract that pays him (not less than) $900,000 per year, with a “bonus target” of $900,000 and a $1.4 million “sign-on bonus.” He’s also eligible for a “long term incentive compensation” with an annual target of $500,000.

Asked about paying such money to a chief content officer while layoffs are afoot, a Time Inc. spokesperson e-mailed, “Mr. Pearlstine is appropriately compensated for his role in the company.”

Time Inc. publishes titles including Time, People, Sports Illustrated, InStyle and Real Simple.