N.Y. Film Critics Circle Emails Reveal ‘Damage Control’

NYFCC Emergency Meeting Heckling
Cindy Ord/Getty Images

'12 Years a Slave' distributor irked after awards heckling

The New York Film Critics Circle is reeling today after its annual gala made headlines for a heckling incident between one of its members and “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen.

As first reported by Variety last night, CityArts editor Armond White started to shout a string of nasty comments to McQueen as he was accepting his prize on-stage. “You’re an embarrassing doorman and garbage man,” yelled White, who had previously panned the film. “F—you. Kiss my ass.”

The organization has set an emergency meeting for Monday, Jan. 13 at Lincoln Center to discuss what to do about the situation.

Variety has learned that chairman Joshua Rothkopf, a senior writer for Time Out New York, sent a mass email to the other members after the ceremony. The subject line was “Ruined.”

“I was looking forward to sending out a post-show email of thanks to everyone who helped make last night so special,” the email said. “Instead, I’m met this morning with links to no less than TEN pieces of reporting from around the world — not about Harry Belafonte’s magnificent speech or the two standing ovations, but about the heckling. I also have a perturbed email from Barry Dale Johnson at Fox Searchlight that will require a response. In short: damage control.”

“It amazes me that we have members who are so self-serving, they would sacrifice the decorum of the group … solely to satisfy their egos,” Rothkopf added. “Never thought I’d write this, but after months of event planning and two years of service as an officer, I’m happy to be done with it.”

A dozen or so other critics started to weigh in, including New York Post’s Lou Lumenick, who asked, “Do we really want to keep fueling the story?”

“You know what, Lou? Coming from you, that’s a fucking laugh,” Rothkopf promptly wrote back to the entire chain. “I have no problem saying this now with the event over, but at this upcoming meeting, we’re also going to discuss YOUR ridiculous confrontation with me at the voting meeting, YOUR flagrant reporting of the vote totals and YOUR expulsion.”

In a public apology from the organization first posted by Deadline, Rothkopf is quoted as saying the group is taking “disciplinary action.”

But another source with close ties to the organization questioned if that’s possible, since the Critics Circle’s bylaws don’t include a method for expelling one of its members. In other words, they might have to write a law about heckling and see what happens next year.

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  1. Pierre Edelman says:

    what about the 1st amendment ? Does it work only if you are in a “public” place rather than a “private” function ? It’s becoming tricky to express yourself, where ever you are on the planet.

  2. Andrew says:

    This sounds like an awful movie.

  3. WOW…….considering that Iran just made it illegal for men and women to chat or tweet it would seem that a certain film critics circle needs to relocate their by-laws and headquarters in Tehran. This is a good publicity stunt for all involved though.

  4. ldsknack says:

    any organization that reveres Harry Belafonte is expatriot…

    • Jake Steele says:

      All these pampas showbiz morons act as if what they do and report on matters. What a waste of life to be involved in such a profession. People wake up and try to get a life.

  5. KCMTL says:

    I’d heard he’d been ill.

  6. mattinacan says:

    i didn’t know anyone still takes Armond White seriously

  7. MomentofFaith says:

    I believe this is a setup to clamp down on freedom of speech

    • Freedom of speech does not equal freedom from consequences. All too often “freedom of speech” is used to essentially say “I can say anything I want and no one can do anything about it, nyah, nyah”. Yes, he was free to say what he wanted, but the organisation should also be free to say “this is unacceptable and there will be consequences”.

  8. Soko says:

    Loved him in Bullet though!

  9. Charles W says:

    Love it.

  10. Giovanni says:

    Okay, I read the piece and I am not sure what the point of the heckling was. Is there background that has not been reported in the piece? I did not see the film and don’t know much about its creation etc. I just don’t like reading an article and being left with a big “huh?”

    Did somebody splash somebody else’s BMW and now we have a full on hissy fit or is there really something substantial going on? These folks are walking stereotypes of arrested development and self absorption and hypocrisy…so I am betting on it just being children fighting because they are tired.


  11. Ace says:

    Any publicity is….

  12. The world watches this spectacle in amazement and says meh, who cares.

  13. Boxhawk er says:

    Oh no, a bunch of nitwitted elites got into a hair pulling, slap fight.

  14. Hollywood Hick says:

    A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  15. Jim says:

    Hahaha it’s only ok for lefty’s to heckle right wingnuts

  16. Doby Pilgrim says:

    You are a horrible rabbit.

  17. Victoria says:

    Almond White is a conservative.

  18. meyikes says:

    If Bush got in to directing films……

  19. Chris Parker says:

    Harry Belafonte supports the totalitarian Castro brothers in Cuba. You know, the guys that just one month ago decided to allow Cubans to buy new automobiles.

    For five decades, Cubans have been buying rebuilt jalopies, because their Marxist totalitarian leaders refused to allow Western imports.

    Belafante, himself, rides around in limos and private jets while preaching Marxist nonsense.

    The left consists of nothing but con-men and fools.

  20. H, Mitchell Barnett says:

    Whenever I see a headline concerning bad behavior from a film critic my assumption of who it is is always right. Armond White. If ever someone proved that the tin foil hat brigade was real it’s him. He is def missing some cards from the playing deck and yet I’d rather read him than some of the terrible film critics today aka Richard Roeper, Peter “blurb whore” Travers and many local paper weaklings.
    With White, your reading the rantings of an unbalanced nutty biased man. Cheap entertainment that is though. But it sure fits in with today’s reality show vacuous, swirling in poor taste screamers. In the old days Rex Reed would cruelly belittle an entertainers face, weight & appearance instead of the film.he was covering. Since he could be mistaken for a Morlock now, he has virtually stopped the nasty queeny flits. Reed seemed to think he is Noel Coward, but Coward was never busted for stealing CDs at Tower Records like Rex was.

  21. A. Pierce says:

    McQueen is English, not American of any sort.

  22. MissyAnthropissy says:

    Positively, absolutely DELICIOUS!!! The Marxists’ Dystopia is officially in fissionable meltdown! FULL damage control is of the essence…

  23. GarbageMan says:

    Too Funny! What a train wreck! This is Hollywood “Springer style”! If this wasn’t so ironic, no one but movie nerds or self professed elites, would even know what was said. Kutos to Rothkopf who made this trivial story into a White-Trash, ghettolicious, dressed for Walmart moment! Ha! Who really cares if an “embarrassing garbage man” made a movie. That’s been done plenty of times, & just in 2013!

  24. Steve says:

    “It amazes me that we have members who are so self-serving, they would sacrifice the decorum of the group … solely to satisfy their egos, isn’t that what all these stupid Hollywood awards shows are about? They are all self-serving egotistical a**holes

  25. Citizen Right says:

    Jesus, get over it. It isn’t the Israel Palestine peace talks.

    Get over yourselves.

  26. mike shelton says:

    Ban CityArts and Armond White from any ceremony. What a stupid, repugnant cretin.

  27. kurlis says:

    This story deserves to be plastered all over Facebook.

  28. sabo says:

    Its really quite sad as the gentleman in the article stated.
    All the work that had been put into the project, from beginning to end, and it all got neutralized
    By a selfish sod, who thinks he has a right to scream something out at a function.
    But to make all those that contributed to this feel better, this little selfish display by one persons part, will go down as a mere footnote,
    And the movie if exceptional will stand the test of time.

  29. Nothing funnier than the morbidly psychotic yelling at each other (and themselves)

  30. Silenius says:

    Finally, one of these Hollywood elites gets their comeuppance. Bravo, Mr. White, for proclaiming the truth about this vagabond.

  31. truth says:

    good for him. use this stage as protest. hear how that exec tears into that guy over an email chain? exactly the belittle attitude those pr icks take and exactly why armond is great for speaking up. we all know the games that people play to get where they are. and if you speak out or stand up for yourself, blowhards like this pout. i love the internet because people cant hide anymore. the story will be told and millions will hear.

    • Josh says:

      Yelling drunken insults at a filmmaker during an awards ceremony you were involved in putting together is not speaking truth to power. You sound like an idiot.

  32. Congratulations!!! You were posted on The Drudge Report. Or, NOBODY would know who any of you are. And likewise would not give a flying Fig! Now I have to go to Wikipedia just to find out why this story was even linked to Drudge. Thanks a lot. Jerks!

  33. Scott says:

    armond white is one of the WORST critics in North America–bad grammar, piss poor [alleged] “writing,” and a racist. He’s a self serving twit who deserves to be run out of town. Good riddance.

  34. Manyland says:

    This is the pencil neck wussy intelligentsia version of two blue collar guys hitting the bar on payday, arguing, and getting into a friendly slugfest. But seeing these pansies just makes my eyes roll…wimps.

  35. Kun Tewk says:

    “It amazes me that we have members who are so self-serving, they would sacrifice the decorum of the group … solely to satisfy their egos,”.

    Are you kidding me ? This is the modus operandi of our times !

  36. Chris Parker says:

    Here is a link which explains a bit about Mr. White. Kind of funny to read.


  37. Chris Parker says:

    The writer of this article appears to assume that all of the readers have been following the story, and know why Mr. White was so peeved?

    Crappy journalism.

  38. Jim says:

    Good point.

  39. Jim says:

    There’s only one Steve McQueen, and this guy isn’t him.

  40. David says:

    Who are these people again. I thought Steve McQueen died years ago. Loved him in “The Great Escape” and “Bullitt” though.

  41. the advisor says:

    Watch the movie and judge if Whites review is wrong. I don’t think he is. Its one of the most manipulative movies I have ever seen.

    • griz says:

      I doubt the Oprah liked it. She’s knows it will be her main obstacle in her quest for that pesky Oscar she has coveted for so long.

  42. michaelZ says:

    Sounds like village idiot Rothkopf needs a serious lesson in PR. #1 The publicity surrounding White’s latest barbaric behavior will guarantee that many more people will see Belafonte’s speech, etc. #2 Cannibalizing the org by shifting the focus from White’s clearly horrific behavior to a tired, old personal feud is a huge mistake.

  43. Bill Foreman says:

    What was that about decorum and ego, eh, Rothkopf?

  44. Just Confused says:

    Armand White showed a tremendous lack of class by his crass regard of EVERYONE in that room that night.
    Very disturbing behavior from a VERY DISTURBED individual. Wonder if underneath it all he is disappointed with his life and really just hates HIMSELF. This guy is travelling a self destructive path to perdition. Can a personal implosion be far behind?

  45. Alex says:

    Critics Circle’s bylaws don’t include a method for expelling one of it’s members? So why don’t they write one and call it “Armond’s Law”.

  46. Dave says:

    A bunch of “movie critics” whining about “one of their own” squawking at some guy. That’s like a bunch of old women in some garden club wetting themselves because some old biddy didn’t like the bucket of weeds some other old hag brought to show.

  47. Armond White revels in making a jackass of his little self. It is a role he was evidently born to play.

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