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January 28, 2009


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A friend of mine used to work for another magazine in the Variety conglomerate, and she and a few others were just shown the door at their magazine on Monday. The timing alone tells you a lot: it's not just Variety being affected, it's the whole damn company, and it's somebody high up enough that when they start to panic, anybody below them has to just follow orders, regardless of how stupid.

Oh, and Variety was their most profitable operation. Something tells me Thompson and Jones were well-paid enough that cutting them makes the balance sheet look good. I wish them both luck and success.

Claire K.

Still, I think there's a comforting message about the power of human resilience implied in the fact that someone who has been through as much personal struggle--and as part of that witnessed as much raw human misery--as David Carr can still toss around suggestions of "Armageddon" so freely.


Glenn, I made a sort of negative comment to you on the Big Hollywood thread about Updike. I want to say that anyone who appreciates Walter Brennan in "Barbary Coast" has to be intelligent and insightful.

You have a very nice blog, and I'm glad I took the time to drop by.

Glenn Kenny

Mushroom—thanks! Please keep coming by, by all means. We have a fun crew over here, and don't get into wrasslin' about politics all that much.

Over at Big Hollywood, I left a comment responding in part to your comment (it appears to be still awaiting moderation), but on reflection I have to say your point was correct—Shapiro didn't engage in any ad hominem attacks on Updike. That said, his critical rhetoric was vehement enough to suggest an ad hominem attack, and anyway, he's wrong...

All told, though, it's just that the guy really gets up my nose when I let him, which I oughtn't...

Anyhow, thanks again


Glenn, I also left a comment there. Mr. Shapiro, in my humble opinion, deserved your harsh words. The timing was deliberately, smugly provocative, and I do think it was a barely disguised ad hominem aimed at a writer whose politics rub Shapiro the wrong way. Shapiro certainly didn't support his thoughts very well, on the one hand admitting he never got around to reading a lot of Updike and on the other hand indulging in selective quotation. And he also strongly, nastily implies that it's only automatically suspect outlets like the NY Times that ever tried to convince us this novelist was worthwhile.

It's well known that there are dreadful passages in Updike, as indeed there are dreadful passages in the works of most prolific writers. If Shapiro is, as you point out, going to piss on Updike's grave then he needs to show that even the good stuff isn't that great. This young Ben quite spectacularly failed to do, unless you count his indignation that Rabbit was a conservative as some sort of match point.

On the other hand, Glenn, if you win new readers who appreciate Barbary Coast and drop by to play nice then all's well that ends well.


To go back to the subject, Thompson's departure, I can't add anything. I get too depressed.


Hey Glenn--

Sad to see Anne (a friend since my NYU days) leaving Variety—it was nice to appear in the same pages, if only for a while. Have no doubt I'll be reading her stuff elsewhere, and soon. But the layoffs will not only affect the film coverage; the ankling of my editor, Phil Gallo, pretty much means that Variety has all but given up on covering music.

And you're right—Retrenchment is too mild a word; it feels more like we've fallen into some kind of bottomless pit.

Hope all is well

Steve Mirkin

david carr

hey glenn,

I'm sure Anne was all chuffy and stuff about me suggesting that her layoff was material -- I would have called her to find out instead of reading her mind, but that's just me. I cover media in my day job, so I know from layoffs, and yes its been very dark for a very long time. But just in the past few weeks, three people known for the eminence -- sara nelson at publishers weekly, kim masters at npr and now anne have been blithely dropped. Those are notable losses and I noted hers with regret, absent any discernible trembling. just the same, thanks for the read and the sanguine annotation. I only wish I was as cool as you.


Glenn Kenny

Don't get me wrong. I'm not "cool," or in any way blase. I've known Sara Nelson longer than I've known Anne, and I'm appalled. I'm appalled at NPR getting rid of Kim, too. I'm appalled by it all. I've watched the Village Voice, from where Bob Christgau taught me whatever writing chops I actually have, get culled, I'm still watching it get culled. I spent 11 years at a relatively prestigious magazine that got treated like a stepchild by its parent company regardless of how badly or how well it was doing, and then when that magazine got shut down I stupidly stayed on to work at its website and stood there like an idiot, more or less, while the parent company tramped the dirt down on whatever credibility that brand had left, because I was too much of a pussy to walk away as long as I was being guaranteed something like a "real" job. And however I'm making my living now, it sure as shit isn't via this blog, and it sure as shit isn't from writing. No, my friend, I am very far from cool. I'm just trying to maintain what's left of my sense of humor, and by extension, my sanity. And with that in mind, all I can say is, keep the faith, illegitimati non carborundum, and so on. Best, GK

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I hate to bring this up again but I still can't believe Premiere went under. There must be some publisher out there who would love to get their hands on the property?


I truly miss Premiere. And has anyone noticed what strange things have happened over what used to be called Movieline, and then became Hollywood Life, and is now something called HL?

It was never a great magazine, but at least it was a magazine. Now I don't know what it is. A clothes catalog? A giant advertorial? One of their most ridiculous new features has some B-lister taking a test drive while offering -- unprompted, of course! --comments on how cool the car is.

What I wouldn't give for a decent, general-interest movie magazine I could actually hold in my hands (not to mention a weird, special-interest fanzine like the late, great Psychotronic).

Claire K.

My word, I had no idea that any incarnation of Movieline still existed. I was actually a fan of Movieline back when it was still trying to be sardonic, which felt very fresh in the pre-blog years.

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Movieline was great fun in the early 90s, especially the articles by Joe Queenan.


Yes, the Queenan pieces were fun (most of them later collected in, "If You're Talking to Me, Your Career Must Be in Trouble," a thought I often have myself). The magazine made room for some good David Thompson essays, too.

And ClaireK, I agree. The sardonicism DID feel fresh back then, (as did Spy, I thought). Now -- well, not to get all David Denbyish, but if I never hear the word "snark" again, I think I'll survive quite nicely.

Glenn Kenny

Queenan was, and remains, a very deft writer, and he was particularly fresh when Movieline got him. Sometimes these days it's as if he's been to the well once too often, as in his recent dismissal of holiday movies in the Guardian. Which isn't to say that over at Movieline he was immune to being a dick just for the sake of being a dick, as in that piece where he stood outside of various theaters and asked patrons who directed a given film, and cited their ignorance as proof auteurism was all wet. Whatever.

There was at some point enough good film writing at Movieline that as a Premiere editor I was a little envious. On the other hand...David Thomson? They could have him.


Yes, typing that I knew we'd disagree, Glenn! And I think you're right about Queenan repeating himself.

Still, I enjoyed their Bad Movies We Love, until that got a little rote. And then there was the inarguably deft and probing journalism of the Hollywood Kids interviews (Q: "What's the one thing that's always in your refrigerator?")


I also miss Premiere enormously, and I always took it as a sign that when the print version folded the subscription company made up for it by sending me Us Weekly instead. It's the world we're living in, I guess.

I generally get my hard copy movie fix from Empire these days - super pricey ($10 a pop), and skewing a bit too heavily towards the adolescent (or post-adolescent) male readership, meaning they have way to much of a hard-on for geek gods like Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott et al. But the writing's solid, the interviews are good and they'll occasionally bang out a terrific feature (the Back Story is usually excellent). And hell, it's just nice to have a full rag dedicated to movies, even if you do have to import it.


"Empire" is pretty good for what it is, but I can't justify paying ten bucks a shot for it, alas.

I don't think printed film writing will ever die. But I think the fight to get stuff in print will get a whole lot harder.

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