Memo to: Patrick Goldstein
From: Brian Lowry
I know our paths seldom crossed during my days at the Los Angeles Times, but then again, whose path have you crossed over there? As I recall, from the moment former managing editor John Lindsay hired you, you couldn’t be bothered to produce more than one feature-like column a week and made a point of never coming into the office. Now you have this blog, “The Big Picture,” so I’m thrilled to see a newspaper that has laid off more than half its staff since I left in 2003 has finally dictated that you squeeze out more than 800 words a week.
Anyway, I hope this new workload isn’t over-taxing you, but it does seem to have made you increasingly petulant. Hell, you actually had to watch the Oscars this year, as opposed to sitting at home TiVo-ing through it, as you boasted about doing in 2008. Oh, the humanity.
By the way, I’m not bitter about the fact that my Tribune stock shriveled from a nest egg to a bite of omelet by the time I had to cash it in, when Sam Zell and his merry band took over. OK, maybe I’m a little bitter, but that’s not why I’m writing this, so I’ll get to the point.
After 20 years overseeing Variety, Peter Bart surely requires no defense from me, although I’ve never seen a guy juggle more jobs and still possess the energy to have read every major newspaper by the time you first see him in the morning. But I do resent your constant lament that Variety is full of nothing but flattering blather, never biting the entertainment industry hands that feed us (not as well as they once did, but that crumb of bad news is hardly unique among newspapers, I’m sorry to say).
Hey, I understand the whole joke about the trades “Taking three minutes to read, and three hours to recover from,” as a writer once said. But speaking for myself, I have never been forced to soft-peddle anything in a column or review in the time I’ve been here. Moreover, I suspect if you spoke with anybody associated with movies or TV programs that our criticism and analysis is considered as tough and fair as any out there. It should also be noted that Variety breaks plenty of news and identifies trends that your paper and others seem to have no qualms about following.
For all that, I have no problem with criticism. In fact, I’m a big believer in being able to take it as well as you dish it out. In this case, what really irks me is the source. So let me ask: Exactly what hard-hitting, Woodward-and-Bernstein-style exposes have you produced lately? Let’s see, there was that valentine to “Fast & Furious” producer Neal Moritz a few weeks ago; and this week’s column was devoted to a soft feature about the casting process for a key role in director John Lee Hancock’s latest movie, which has yet to begin production.
Somehow, I suspect these efforts won’t compel the Pulitzer committee to work overtime.
Anyway, good luck with the whole blogging thing. Feeding that beast is exhausting, as I’ve learned in just the short time I’ve been doing this; still, as long as you keep trying to establish feuds with people who generate more traffic than you do, maybe one day “The Big Picture” will actually live up to its billing.