Hollywood Elsewhere approves of Kris Tapley‘s hiring by Variety as its new co-awards editor. Kris starts on August 24th, and his first live swagger-around will happen at the Telluride Film Festival (9.4 through 9.7). This doesn’t mean Kris will be commuting to the Variety office and working from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm every day. It means that after being cast aside by Hitfix, In Contention is now revitalized under the Variety banner. It means Kris won’t have to sell ads. It means that Variety‘s awards editor Tim Gray probably feels at least a little bit unhappy as Kris is now Variety‘s new hot shot, his experience and industry relationships speaking for themselves and probably allowing for a little polite jostling as the season evolves.
What this also means is that Penske Media’s Jay Penske now owns In Contention, Deadline and Tom O’Neil‘s Gold Derby. That leaves two and only two gold-star, battle-scarred, Los Angeles-based indie columnists with real voices — Hollywood Elsewhere and Sasha Stone‘s Awards Daily. No brag, just fact: Sasha and I are the last of the Charley Varricks who dispense advocacy and passion with a personal stamp, and in a manner of speaking we’re worth just as much as all the sage analyzers and, as Delbert Grady once said, perhaps a bit more.
I’m mainly referring to five…okay, make it six mild-mannered pulse-takers and trade seers who specialize in reading tea leaves, putting their fingers to the wind and explaining why mainstream Academy farts like or don’t like this or that film or performance — TheWrap‘s Steve Pond, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg, Deadline‘s Pete Hammond, the L.A. Times‘ Glenn Whipp and Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson. Grantland‘s Mark Harris does this kind of thing also, of course, but he tends to post infrequently…what, every three or four weeks once the season begins? And the N.Y. Times‘ Cara Buckley, of course. And you can’t forget the constant poll-taking and analysis by O’Neil’s Gold Derby.
Also swaggering around and doing his vaguely bored know-it-all routine and his DP30 interviews and tabulating Gurus of Gold opinions, of course, is Movie City News‘ honcho David Poland.
I have to say that I don’t care for Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson having said that with the Tapley hire, Variety now has “someone to compete” with Pond, Feinberg and Hammond. Because these guys (plus Whipp, Harris and Buckley) are, smart and professional as their stuff always is, all dispensing the same kind of avuncular classic-rock analysis. And the reason that Kris seemed right for Variety is because he cranks out a certain low-key, wise-but-not-too-judgmental, astute but dagger-less quality in his analysis pieces. But if you want a little pizazz and passion and voices that cut through the bullshit from time to time, you need to read HE or Sasha. Advocacy and attitude are what created the whole Oscar blogger business, not dispassionate analysis.
And then you’ve got Vulture‘s Kyle Buchanan, The Film Experience‘s Nathaniel Rogers, Brad Brevet‘s Rope of Silicon, Showbiz411‘s Roger Friedman and all the others.
I’m just saying while there are mainstream folks who spin classic rock, there are also people who own their own guitars and can play a few licks and chords of their own. Last year’s Best Picture race made it clear that people who stand back and analyze the race like political columnists don’t necessarily know anything and that sometimes you need a obstinate visionary or two to cut through the blah-blah. Remember how all the know-it-alls (Hitfix‘s Greg Ellwood, Toronto Star‘s Peter Howell, Fandango‘s Dave Karger, L.A. Times‘ Mark Olsen, Poland, The Film Experience‘s Nathaniel Rogers, Sasha, Thompson and L.A. Times‘ columnist Glenn Whipp) were still predicting Boyhood to win Best Picture even after Birdman‘s Alejandro G. Inarritu won the DGA award in early February? Who had Birdman‘s back all the way from Telluride to the finish line, never folding or equivocating through thick and thin? Just saying.
But again, serious congratulations to Kris — a good fellow who knows his stuff and knows the town and has always had a disciplined work ethic.