No pressure

Posted by · 9:37 am · March 15th, 2010


UPDATE: It gets worse: Joshua Newton quotes Variety president Neil Stiles as saying “No one takes these reviews seriously,” and that the paper plans to cease reviewing altogether this year.

EARLIER: After firing most of their chief critical staff, just one week after it came to light that they’d suppressed a negative review in order to appease a film’s well-moneyed producers, Variety hasn’t been much of a friend to the struggling art of film criticism lately.

Amazingly, however, in this NYT take on the situation, the powers that be at the venerable trade paper find ways to make themselves look even worse. I refer to this stunning foot-in-mouth statement from editor Tim Gray, as he attempts to smooth over the Robert Koehler-“Iron Cross” fiasco:

Of the “Iron Cross” go-round, Mr. Gray said he removed the [Robert Koehler’s] review from the Web after a lawyer for the director and producer, Joshua Newton, objected, but reposted it after viewing the film and deciding to “stand by the review as it was written.”

The line between church and state, wrote Mr. Gray, remains as firm as in Sime Silverman’s day. “There is no advertising influence or pressure on the editorial independence of our reporting.”

So there’s “no advertising pressure,” but a call from the director’s lawyer can do the trick? Glad that’s been cleared up. And is Koehler supposed to be grateful that once Gray had seen the film and sanctioned his opinion, the review was deemed fit for publication again? If that’s how little faith Variety has in its own contributors, perhaps Todd McCarthy et al are better off out of it.

→ 7 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

7 responses so far

  • 1 3-15-2010 at 10:19 am

    Morgan said...

    It seems to me that Variety is just the latest example of a respected brand going not-very-gently into that good night. Same as Toyota, Tiger Woods, and… well… the United States of America.

    This seems to be happening more often the worse the economy gets. A lot of these towering figures have feet of clay.

  • 2 3-15-2010 at 11:25 am

    Casey Fiore said...

    I understand what your saying Morgan, and I think you’re correct in your assessment of Variety, but I think you’re either over-dramatizing or incorrectly labeling the situation with those other examples.

    The United States is not a government or a “way of life” it is more than 300 million individuals who cannot accurately be described as 1.

    And as far as Tiger Woods goes I think you raise an interesting point that’s relevant in terms of “brands” and the variety discussion. The real issue is that we are lead to believe and in fact buy into the notion that a person is a brand in real life, not just in a public domain. This is our mistake. Tiger Woods the person is just a person. Tiger Woods the Golfer is a brand

  • 3 3-15-2010 at 11:35 am

    The Dude said...

    I didn’t know Variety was ceasing all reviews in the coming year…

    It borderline pisses me off that Neil Stiles says “No one takes those reviews seriously.” I, for one, am one of those poor saps who actually does, and I’m pretty sure millions of others do, too. If nobody did, Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic would be out of a job.

  • 4 3-15-2010 at 4:32 pm

    Erik 815 said...

    Wait, wasn’t Variety that thing that was made completely obsolete by the internet except for the reviews?

  • 5 3-15-2010 at 8:11 pm

    head_wizard said...

    Good thing they are getting out of the review business who would trust them now?

  • 6 3-16-2010 at 4:20 am

    Ivan said...

    “No one takes those reviews seriously.”

    Me and my wallet certainly do.

    If a movie is bellow 50% on RT i’m not wasting my time unless i’m particularly excited about it.

  • 7 3-22-2010 at 8:02 am

    Will said...

    @Ivan thats my philosophy to0 if its below 50% i avoid the film