Former Movieline and Salon film critic Stephanie Zacharek has been named principal film writer at Village Voice, where her reviews and features will appear in all of Voice Media Group’s publications, websites and mobile platforms. The alt-weekly recently lost lead film critic Scott Foundas, who moved to Variety last month. VMG also intends to hire a Los Angeles-based film writer and as of today is accepting applications.
The venerable alternative newspapers plus 11 others are part of a buyout announced last night that will separate them from Backpage.com, the classified ad service that critics say promotes prostitution. The chief operating officer of Village Voice Media Holdings, Scott Tobias, led the team buying the papers, called Voice Media Group. Terms weren’t disclosed, except that Backpage.com is not included. The site known for its classified ads offering “escorts” had been a “distraction,” Tobias — who’s CEO of the new Voice Media Group – told AP. In March, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof said that Backpage played “a major role in the trafficking of minors or women who are coerced.” Goldman Sachs responded by selling its stake in the site. The Voice said that Kristof had it wrong, and that Backpage “dedicates hundreds of staff to screen adult classifieds in order to keep juveniles off the site and to work proactively with law enforcement in their efforts to locate victims.”
Andrew Sarris, an influential movie critic who championed the importance of directors in filmmaking, died today. He was 83. His wife says Sarris died in a Manhattan hospital from complications from a stomach virus. Sarris was possibly best known for his work with the Village Voice in the 1960s and 1970s, when movies were no longer considered solely entertainment but became subjects of analysis for critics and audiences alike. The Brooklyn-born Sarris popularized the auteur theory _ that a director’s voice is central to great filmmaking. He also was a pioneer of the annual “Top 10″ film lists that remain a media staple to this day. In 1968, he published “The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968.” Sarris described it as “a collection of facts, a reminder of movies to be resurrected, of genres to be redeemed, of directors to be rediscovered.” His favorites included John Ford, Hawks, Orson Welles and Fritz Lang.