So word from United Press International is the voiceless, weightless shadow of cancer-victim Roger Ebert can’t wait to get back to writing movie criticism again.
“I am at last returning to the movie beat,” Ebert announced in the letter published Tuesday. “I’m looking forward to opening night of my annual film festival at the University of Illinois on April 23, and I will resume writing movie reviews shortly thereafter.”
The critic said he underwent his third surgery in January, but revealed his ability to speak was not restored; that would require another operation.
“But I still have all my other abilities, including the love of viewing movies and writing about them,” Ebert said.
We here at Art Failure Central certainly wish Mr. Ebert a speedy recovery and many long years of out-thrust thumbs. However, we also suggest that perhaps it might be a different kind of cancer—the cancer of art failure, and the failure of newspapers and of daily arts criticism—that ultimately ends his critical career. If you don’t believe me, check out what David Carr of the New York Times recently had to say about the impending demise of the movie critic.
The continual drumbeat of news that film critics are being laid off at daily and weekly newspapers across the country has kicked up some quotable reviews.
“A dire situation!” Scott Rudin, independent film producer.
“A terrible loss!” Tom Bernard, Sony Pictures Classics.
“Puts serious movies at risk!” Mark Urman, ThinkFilm.
Those men …. were upset by the departures of movie critics. Nathan Lee, one of The Village Voice’s two full-time critics, was laid off last week by Village Voice Media, a large chain of alternative weeklies that has been cutting down the number of critics it employs across the country.
The week before, two longtime critics at Newsday — Jan Stuart and Gene Seymour — took buyouts, along with their editor. And at Newsweek, David Ansen is among 111 staff members taking buyouts, according to a report in Radar.
They join critics at more than a dozen daily newspapers (including those in Denver, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale) and several alternative weeklies who have been laid off, reassigned or bought out in the past few years, deemed expendable at a time when revenues at print publications are declining, under pressure from Web alternatives and a growing recession in media spending.
R.I.P., art/movie critics (and newspapers)!