The April 4 death of Roger Ebert unleashed an unprecedented outpouring of affection and appraisal. Ebert embodied the old and the new, the tough-nosed competitive reporter and film enthusiast as well as the new model internet communicator and brand-builder. On the one hand, he revealed as outmoded the film critic as expert expounding down to their audiences. But he also exemplified the authoritative experienced veteran whose opinion was valued. He had clout.
How will the Chicago Sun-Times move to replace him? Myriad editorial changes continue as print media buckles under the pressure of slashing costs as print readers and advertisers decline. For the most part this means that established and respected voices are tempting line item deletions: Ken Tucker and Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly are especially missed; they’re now freelancing.
But as Scott Foundas left the Film Society of Lincoln Center for The Voice and then Variety, Stephanie Zacharek, once of Salon and Movieline, landed the Voice gig. With Claudia Eller coming in, Variety film editor Josh Dickey went to TMZ, while Variety newshound Jeff Sneider returned to his old stomping grounds at The Wrap. Meanwhile Variety and Deadline are letting go of some freelancers, as those two publications divide and conquer. Penske Media’s Movieline now runs Variety reviews. And Movieline’s Jen Yamato now does beat reporting for Deadline.
Michael Sragow, who had been pushed into editing at The Baltimore Sun, is writing reviews again at the Orange County Register–behind a pay wall, alas. Backstage has cut its reviews altogether.
A.A. Dowd, who was let go at Chicago Time Out when it ceased its print publication, has landed the job left vacant by departing Scott Tobias at The Onion’s AV Club. (No word yet on Time Out film editor casualty Ben Kenigsberg.)
Film critics Gerald Peary and Peter Keough have been freelancing since the shuttering of the Boston Phoenix. And the wheel keeps spinning.