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David Poland

By David Poland

Just Saw This…


It just goes to show you, surveys are skewed by the questions as much as the answers.

The above is an ad for awards advertisers from the LA Times.

I would rephrase: What kind of entertainment awards coverage are you looking for?

A. The same old stale stuff, written by angry, jaded employees of a bankrupt corporation who don’t ask challenging questions, but sometimes do trend pieces based on off-the-cuff poorly considered notions someone spit up like a hairball over coffee?

B. Thoughtful, provocative ideas that are not steeped in the need to cover massive overhead by selling millions of dollars in ads to the studios by writers who are not outnumbered by the ad sales team.

Of course, this is similarly absurd. Not everyone at LAT is a jaded hack. And not every web-based journalist is an inexperienced hack.

Of course, the ad at the top of this entry is aimed at Nikki Finke, not really me or other billionaire-less web-based journalists. The subtext is, “You don’t want to wake up one morning with Nikki attacking your movie because someone refused to give her a 2-hour exclusive, sitting next to the ad for your movie… do you?” The inverse is, “We’ll take care of you at LA Times.” Not a great journalistic standard, as no matter how full of crap Nikki may be, “professional” as a code word for “butt kissing” is not what we’re supposed to be in the business of doing.

In the end, journalism about Oscar season is much more opinion than news. For everyone, Features = Free Ads Pretending To Be News. And that’s ok. It’s the game.

The LA Times ad was featured in a piece on Journalists vs Bloggers. So I just want to point out, for the millionth time, that we who don’t have giant institutions signing our checks, have to earn out readership every single day. If Nim Chimpsky wrote for the NYT OP-Ed section, he would instantly have as big a readership as Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd, or Chauncey Gardener. The institution has already earned status for you. On the other hand, if what I write doesn’t keep me in the conversation… however wide or narrow those who converse about it may be… I am done professionally. After 15 years online, I have some institutional weight as well. But nothing close to that of a print outlet. So when I read institutional journalists questioning “blogs,” I have the urge to invite them to come on out to the place where you don’t have it all handed to you on a platter. Then tell me how superior you are. Some would thrive and grow… some for good reasons and some for bad. And some would be done.

Journalistic standards are tough for everyone, in whatever media they work. Keep it specific, don’t be defensive, be fair. That’s all I ask.

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5 Responses to “Just Saw This…”

  1. anghus says:

    the second i saw it i thought “finke”.

    i think 99% of the people in the world who see that ad would think the same thing.

    it’s funny after the awesome conversation over in the WHEN CRITICS ATTACK thread that it comes back to the same basic principle.

    Are you a journalist or a blogger?

    i would think the answer lies in those who adhere to a higher standard.

    i would be real curious to hear from some studio people who they perceive as a journalist vs. perceiving as a blogger.

  2. palmtree says:

    Accurate, in-depth entertainment awards coverage almost sounds like an oxymoron.

    Aren’t unconfirmed, incomplete rumors the heart and soul of entertainment awards coverage?

  3. Hallick says:

    The only entertainment awards coverage that matters can be summed up in these three lines:

    “Here are the nominees”

    “Here’s the show”

    “Here’s who won”

    Everything outside of that has been so much hot air and ponderous horse race speculation over the years.

  4. Anghus says:

    I dont remember a lot of in depth coverage last year. I remember rampant speculation and lots of ed pieces on how embarrassing Melissa Leo was.

    What were the big, journalism stories that came out of last years race?

  5. NickF says:

    I guess the dying print media will do whatever it can to sink the entire ship.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon