Just one week after Lisa Schwarzbaum’s departure from Entertainment Weekly, TV critic Ken Tucker is taking a buyout. Editor Jess Cagle had nothing but appreciative words for Tucker in a memo to the staff reprinted on JimRomenesko.com:
“Ken Tucker was working at EW even before there was an EW. Way back in 1989, when the first Bush was president and EW.com was just a twinkle in Bill Gannon’s eye, Ken was on the start-up team that launched Entertainment Weekly with this original mission statement: “We must be opinionated and we must be talked about.” Ken never stopped fulfilling that mission, and even though he’s leaving EW, his voice, sensibility, humor, passion, incomparable wit and humane spirit will have a lasting and benevolent impact. Please join me in thanking him for being such an invaluable colleague and great critic.”
As critic, Tucker always seems to be there first. He was an early champion of both “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “The X-Files,” two shows that revolutionized their respective genres and went a long way in breaking down barriers — genre, gender, and more — for an entire medium. As a fan especially of “Buffy,” to imagine that without Tucker we might not have gotten the chance to experience the quiet genius (literally) of “Hush” or the devastation of “The Body” and, of course, the wonderful musical “Once More, With Feeling” makes me feel the need to give a personal “thank you.” Tucker’s mark doesn’t end with EW; it lives in adventurous TV shows and the devoted fans who welcome them.
In addition to his work on TV, Tucker has many other contributions to the critical world. Always ahead of the curve, in 1984, he was the first rock critic to become a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for criticism. The next year, he wrote a piece for The New York Times that played a large part in helping cartoonist Art Spiegelman publish his classic graphic novel “Maus.” He also edited EW’s DVD section and spent a year as the film critic for New York Magazine.
Cagle’s note concludes by thanking Tucker “for treating your medium and its artisans with tough, genuine love.” No matter where he lands, it goes without saying that the love will follow. Tucker has already tweeted that he’ll “be on NPR more than ever” and that there is “more stuff in progress as we speak/tweet.” With the track record he has, it’s worth keeping watch, as we can only guess what great work he will help save next.
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