In an effort to boost circulation of its resident magazine, Film Comment, and to forge a closer relationship between the monthly and its repertory house, the Walter Reade Theater, the Film Society of Lincoln Center has fired long-standing editor Richard Jameson.
Under Jameson, the magazine remained one of America’s few venues for serious film commentary. But it was also deemed by some a sleepy backwater of crusty auteurist writing and scholarly criticism.
Jameson disagrees. “There was nothing academic about Film Comment,” he told Daily Variety. “We weren’t flogging any theory or any position,” he said. “I’m afraid it was a magazine that you had to read and if you weren’t prepared to do that there’s nothing we could do.”
But Jameson proved unable either to attract enough readers (circulation has remained flat at roughly 50,000 the last five years) or to march in step with the Walter Reade. The theater, which now boasts an average capacity of 40%, has grown more international in scope than its print affiliate.
“At this point, the Walter Reade has become the preeminent venue for international cinema and it would be nice if the magazine reflected that,” said Film Society executive veep Joanne Coch.
Jameson has been replaced by Gavin Smith, previously associate editor of the magazine. “The relationship between the programming and the editorial content should be developed a little bit,” Smith said. But, he hastened to add, “we’re not going to be Walter Reade Comment.”