Longtime Variety reporter Dave McNary was remembered as a consummate journalist who deeply loved covering the movie business during American Cinematheque’s Tribute to the Crafts, held Monday night at Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre.
Sharon McNary, a longtime journalist for KPCC-FM who was married to Dave McNary for 21 years, was on hand to accept a posthumous award for her husband, presented by Variety co-editor in chief Cynthia Littleton. Dave McNary died in 2020 at the age of 69 after suffering a stroke.
“I never saw anyone work as hard as he did,” Sharon McNary told the crowd.
She noted that her husband loved this time of year, when film kudos are in full swing. “He called it tuxedo season,” she said. Unlike many industry veterans, Dave never complained about having to dress up for events. “He’d get dressed up, take a picture with the dog and head off to have the time of his life,” she said.
Peter Bart, former Variety editor-in-chief and an American Cinematheque board member, introduced the tribute segment, observing that McNary had a rare combination of talents for a journalist.
“He was a dogged, likeable and loveable reporter — that’s a very rare trait,” he said. McNary’s versatility meant that he got “the worst assignments,” Bart admitted.
McNary also covered the Hollywood labor beat during his 21 years at Variety. Littleton asserted that “McNary knew more about how this town’s unions work than most union leaders.”
Sharon McNary said Dave found great fulfillment in covering the inner workings of Hollywood’s guilds and unions. She noted with pride that the Screen Actors Guild had to redo a national officers election and submit to a Labor Department investigation in 2002 after Dave broke the story of ballot irregularities that called the results into question.
“Dave believed in the ability of workers to negotiate something better for themselves,” Sharon McNary said.
The American Cinematheque’s inaugural Tribute to the Crafts bestowed film awards selected by a Cinematheque jury in 15 key categories ranging from visual effects and cinematography to score, hair and makeup and costume design. The event took on additional significance this year after the Motion Picture Academy’s decision to cut the live presentation of eight craft awards from the Oscar telecast on March 27.
“Thanks to the American Cinematheque for celebrating the crafts when others aren’t,” said editor Bob Eisenhardt, who was recognized for his work on the feature documentary “The Rescue.”
(Pictured: Variety co-editor in chief Cynthia Littleton and Sharon McNary)