NEW YORK — Gotham’s game of musical aisle seats continues as veteran scribe Jack Mathews ankles Newsday to join the New York Daily News as critic-entertainment columnist.
News of Mathews’ move follows David Denby’s arrival at New Yorker mag, and Peter Rainer stepping into Denby’s old spot at New York mag.
Mathews, 59, ends a seven-year stint at Newsday on Feb. 10 and reports for duty at the Gotham tab Feb. 15. He replaces critic Dave Kehr, who, insiders say, ruffled feathers with his “too analytical” approach in reviews. Daily News critic Jami Bernard remains in place.
Mathews said he was approached by Daily News Features Editor Alan Mirabella, who’s spearheading changes in design and coverage at the paper. “They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” said Mathews, whose previous stints were at the L.A. Times, USA Today and the Detroit Free Press. “It’s one of those perfect situations: Besides reviews, I’ll be doing theme pieces, analysis and columns — a little bit of everything.”
Mathews said he was particularly impressed by Mirabella’s enthusiasm and determination to chart new waters in entertainment coverage.
Salary? “Just say I’m being very generously rewarded, but it’s a mortal salary.”
Newsday carried on “an aggressive negotiation” to keep Mathews, known for insider’s knowledge of the industry and his ability to report the same with clarity and wit. “They made a very attractive counter-off,” said Mathews.
In the end, however, Mathews was swayed by the Gotham location. “I had this burning desire to get into the swing of a metro paper again,” he said.
No word yet on whether John Anderson, No. 2 critic at Newdays, will fill Mathews’ vacated spot.