There was a time when being a newspaper’s critic was a lifetime gig. Bosley Crowther was film critic of the New York Times for 27 years. Robert Hilburn has occupied the music critic chair at the Los Angeles Times for 34 years.
Critics of the old school would be shocked by the present shuffling taking place among top critics.
Last week, the Los Angeles Times named Carina Chocano, who has been reviewing TV for a short time, as its new film critic, sharing that responsibility with veteran Kenneth Turan.
Chocano replaces Manohla Dargis, who after a year at the L.A. Times leapfrogged to the New York Times as a movie critic.
At the Gotham paper she will be edited by Michael Cieply, who has just jumped from Los Angeles to the New York Times as movie editor, a newly created job. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times has hired Maria Russo from the New York Observer to serve as assistant entertainment editor for criticism.
For those who follow the critics, all this leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
Is a TV critic ideally suited to fill the chair of film criticism — are those credentials transferable?
For that matter, Dargis’ move to the New York paper (she’ll actually still be living in Los Angeles) means the New York Times has two critics (she and A.O. “Tony” Scott) who are relatively new to the critics game — at least by the standards of Crowther and Hilburn.