V.A. Musetto weathered four decades of change during his longtime tenure as the NY Post’s film critic and headline writer (i.e. the tabloid’s infamous ‘Headless Body in Topless Bar’). On Thursday, Musetto became the latest print critic to get the axe because of what he blames is the Internet age. It was termination by email: “Dear Vincent, I’m sorry, but because of budget cutbacks we cannot give you any further reviewing assignments,” wrote film editor Lou Lumenick. Musetto responded by forwarding the message to the Post staff. “I got this email from Lumenick who said I was through,” Musetto confirmed to me the firing first reported by Capital New York. “Lumenick hates me and I don’t especially like him. We don’t get along. We never talked. After 40 years, to have some flunky just send me an email. But I did get a call from the woman in charge of entertainment who apologized for just sending an email.” His assignments of two reviews per month had dwindled at the going rate of $100 a pop, Musetto tells me. He took the freelance gig after retiring in 2011 (heralded in the Post with the headline “Can’t Top This”). But it wasn’t exactly voluntary.
“They wanted to demote me,” Musetto said. “Put me back on the copy desk, editing stories and being a copy editor. The movie reviews would be my second job. I didn’t want that after all those years. So I said, ‘I’ll retire.’” Like many old school … Read More »
Judith Crist, author and influential film critic for more than three decades, died today at her home in Manhattan. She was 90. Crist joined the New York Herald Tribune in 1945 and in 1963 became the first woman to be appointed a full-time film critic at a major American newspaper. A reviewer for New York magazine, Crist was also a regular on The Today Show from 1963 until 1973 discussing film. As well as being a founding contributor to New York magazine, she also wrote for TV Guide until 1988 and other publications. A Harris Poll of moviegoers in the 1960s cited her as their favorite critic. In 1968, Film Quarterly called her “the American critic with the widest impact on the mass audience”. Crist’s talents weren’t just confined to the movies. She won a George Polk Award in 1951 for a series on education for the Herald Tribune. The founder of the TarryTown, N.Y. Film Festival that ran until 2006, Crist made a cameo at a fictional film fest in Woody Allen’s 1980 film Stardust Memories. Up until recently Crist taught at the Columbia Journalism School.
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just been told that Penske Media Corp has terminated Elvis Mitchell after more than 3 months as Movieline.com’s chief film critic. The early end to his contract follows a company investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mitchell’s recent review of Summit Entertainment’s Source Code for the site. The company is making no formal announcement. But here is what I’ve been able to find out. [Full Disclosure: PMC also owns Deadline.com, but all its media properties are managed separately.)
A Summit rep tells me that Mitchell was shown a final cut of the film Source Code on February 24th in NYC. His review of the movie appeared on Movieline.com on March 31st. That same day, the pic’s director Duncan Jones tweeted, “Find it odd Movieline choose to complain about Jeffrey Wright smoking a pipe, something in an old draft of the script thats not in the film.” The reference was to what Mitchell had written in his review: ”It’s up to Jeffrey Wright, as the administrator supervising the Source Code — the machine that keeps firing Colter back, back, back to the recent past — and his eccentric brio to keep the silliness from piling up like ash from his pipe. That’s how you know this film is science fiction — someone is smoking indoors in the United States — and that Wright is a martinet whose malevolence must be checked.”
After the director’s tweet was brought to Movieline’s attention, I questioned an editor there who … Read More »
Chicago-based film critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky has been named co-host on Roger Ebert’s new review show Ebert Presents At the Movies. The 24-year-old Russian-born Vishnevetsky replaces original co-host Elvis Mitchell and will give out thumbs-up and down alongside Associated Press’ Christy Lemire. Mitchell’s departure was announced last month when Ebert released the show’s premiere date, Jan. 21, dismissing speculation that move was due to lack of chemistry between Mitchell and Lemire. Vishnevetsky writes for the film website Mubi and contributes to the Chicago Reader. Ebert, who will appear on the show in a segment via a computer-generated voice, is executive producing the series, set to air on public TV stations, with his wife, Chaz Ebert.