Hollywood Elsewhere has just come up with the hottest and coolest award-season concept of 2021…and not just a promotion but an opportunity for a possibly profound meeting-of-the-minds discussion that everyone, and I mean every living soul in the entertainment industry will have to watch start to finish and then post tweets and articles about. The only question is, will Variety‘s stiff-necked editors go along with it?
Within the realm of the current Carey Mulligan / Dennis Harvey / Variety kerfuffle, each has a profile that could stand some tweaking.
Mulligan is the gifted actress and Promising Young Woman Best Actress contender who didn’t register her displeasure with Harvey’s Sundance assessment of her casting until Kyle Buchanan popped the question, and then, a few weeks later, expressed satisfaction when Variety apologized for a certain paragraph in Harvey’s review. One one hand she’s almost certain to win the Best Actress Oscar, but on another the whole “trade paper apologizes for an allegedly offensive paragraph in a review because an actress didn’t like it” thing is a matter of serious concern among every critic and editor in this industry, and Mulligan is at risk of seeming as if she’s enjoying this debacle a little too much.
Harvey is the veteran Variety reviewer who may or may not have expressed himself indelicately, but whom everyone feels sorry for now, especially with Variety having thrown the poor guy under the bus after not saying boo for 11 months (the Promising Young Woman review went up in mid January 2020). Certain #MeToo radicals have actually called for Harvey’s dismissal (ridiculous) but these are the Khmer Rouge-tainted times in which we live.
Variety is the unequivocal bad guy in this affair. As The Ankler‘s Richard Rushfield wrote this morning, “Variety has achieved the perfect trifecta that is the trademark of today’s trade coverage — that magic combination of woke grandstanding, kissing up to the powerful and mistreating your underlings.”
The solution? Arrange for Mulligan and Harvey to do a one-on-one Zoom discussion of the whole affair. Let their hair down, explain their respective positions, re-phrase if necessary and presumably arrive at some sort of mutual understanding. Present this historic discussion as an extra-special edition of Variety‘s Actors on Actors series. Instead of a typically toothless chit-chat with actors (forgive the Quentin Tarantino-esque description) sucking each other’s dicks, this could be something you’d actually want to watch and take notes on.
And everyone would come out ahead — Mulligan would be seen as slightly more supportive of journalistic integrity, Harvey would be seen as less of a sexist ogre (which he isn’t but once the #MeToo cadres have a notion between their teeth they never let go of it) and Variety would be seen as a little less deserving of Rushfield’s trifecta trophy. A win-win-win all around.
And if Variety wimps out and decides against this exciting idea, someone else should offer to Zoom it. TheWrap, the NYTimes, The Daily Beast….anyone with balls.