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Critics Update: Variety, Salon, Movieline Moves

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 12, 2010 at 11:02AM

Many people seem to be failing to recognize the distinction between the end of the old media economic model that could afford to pay critics six-figure salaries and the new paradigm which demands that critics deliver more for less--often online. Certainly, indieWIRE is not paying its new in-house critic Eric Kohn what Variety was paying Todd McCarthy. And despite what Variety editor Tim Gray's carefully-worded editorial suggests, he did not offer new deals to its laid-off critics McCarthy and David Rooney before delivering them their new unemployed status. Nor has it closed new deals with them since the March lay-offs. Meanwhile, as I announced Friday, Mail.com's Jay Penske, the owner of Deadline and Hollywoodlife, has lured Salon critic Stephanie Zacharek to review for another one of his flotilla of entertainment sites, Movieline. Salon tried to keep her, but Movieline made her an offer she couldn't refuse. She will definitely class up the joint, which has lost one of its three initial hires from Defamer, Seth Abramovitch; Kyle Buchanan and S.T. VanAirsdale remain. Zacharek leaves colleague Andrew O'Hehir behind; Salon plans to reconfigure her job.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Many people seem to be failing to recognize the distinction between the end of the old media economic model that could afford to pay critics six-figure salaries and the new paradigm which demands that critics deliver more for less--often online. Certainly, indieWIRE is not paying its new in-house critic Eric Kohn what Variety was paying Todd McCarthy. And despite what Variety editor Tim Gray's carefully-worded editorial suggests, he did not offer new deals to its laid-off critics McCarthy and David Rooney before delivering them their new unemployed status. Nor has it closed new deals with them since the March lay-offs.

Meanwhile, as I announced Friday, Mail.com's Jay Penske, the owner of Deadline and Hollywoodlife, has lured Salon critic Stephanie Zacharek to review for another one of his flotilla of entertainment sites, Movieline. Salon tried to keep her, but Movieline made her an offer she couldn't refuse. She will definitely class up the joint, which has lost one of its three initial hires from Defamer, Seth Abramovitch; Kyle Buchanan and S.T. VanAirsdale remain. Zacharek leaves colleague Andrew O'Hehir behind; Salon plans to reconfigure her job.

In Movieline's Monday announcement, Zacharek stated:

“Even though there’s an enormous number of web sites and blogs devoted to movies and entertainment, the number of sites that take movies and movie criticism seriously is relatively small. In a climate where studio hype too often threatens to crush thoughtful conversation about film, Movieline has proved its commitment to covering movies in a unique and insightful way, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this leading movie destination.”

In order to bolster Movieline's profile, lend the brand cachet and sell more premium ads, Penske is adding an established online critic who will also help to define Movieline as a smart-moviegoer site. Even the NYT's A.O. Scott tweeted that he would add Movieline to his must-read list.

Critics live!

This article is related to: Stuck In Love, Reviews, Critics


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.