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.