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Inside Move: L.A. Times takes time with TV critic

Candidates spurn employment offers

With Howard Rosenberg due to step down as the Los Angeles Times television critic next month, the paper seems to be no closer to finding a replacement than it was back in May, when the columnist’s retirement was announced.

And as the new TV season fast approaches, the L.A. Times may be without a chief TV critic when the networks unveil their fall wares.

It’s not for lack of trying. The Times has made at least one job offer to an outside candidate who later turned the paper down. Internally, reporter-columnist Brian Lowry recently wrote several TV reviews for the paper in what appeared to be somewhat of a trial run.

The Times was close to hiring Ken Tucker, the TV critic for Entertainment Weekly. Last week, Tucker told his boss, editor-at-large Mark Harris, that he was taking the job. Harris, though, apparently managed to talk Tucker out of a move to Hollywood.

“Ken Tucker is staying put,” Harris told Daily Variety, though he declined comment on whether the Times had tried to poach his critic.

Another name circulating as a leading candidate this week is Time magazine’s media and TV writer Jim Poniewozik.

But Poniewozik said that was news to him. “I’d be flattered if they were considering me, but honestly I haven’t heard from anyone there,” Poniewozik said.

Times managing editor Dean Baquet had no comment on the search, except, “We are considering candidates.”

The newspaper has a history of dragging its feet when it comes to filling chief critic jobs. The paper’s previous theater critic, Michael Phillips, left for the Chicago Tribune in January 2002. The Times has used a bevy of applicants and inhouse reporters and editors since then to review L.A. theater.

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