In a Sunday, 4.11 article called “Scrutiny on the Bounty,” Variety editor Tim Gray complains about how internet columnists got it wrong about the staff eliminations of chief film critic Todd McCarthy, senior critic Derek Elley and chief theatre critic David Rooney. But even now, more than a month later, Gray presents a not-entirely-candid account himself.
“On March 8, Variety restructured its reviews department and eliminated full-time reviewers,” Gray writes. “We asked Todd McCarthy, David Rooney and Derek Elley to stay onboard, under new terms.” He later states that “from day one, we asked the review trio to assume central roles” among Variety‘s group of freelancers. “But many bloggers declined to ask details,” says Gray, “and just jumped to conclusions.”
I didn’t jump to conclusions. I spoke to McCarthy that very day, and he told me that Variety had only vaguely alluded to a freelance deal as a down-the-road thing. Rooney says also that Variety told him (a) no more staff employment with (a) no “concrete” offer of a freelance deal. Variety later wrote him “they would like to do a freelance deal…we are going to get back to you about that.” As most of us know, pledges of what employers would “like” to do plus $1.75 will get you a bus ticket.
I checked back today and was told in fact that it was only after the big media brouhaha about McCarthy being canned that Variety came back to McCarthy and began discussing terms of a freelance arrangement. So that “from day one” comment is questionable or, as one observer puts it, “creative.” I’m told McCarthy will make a yea-nay decision on that offer later this week.
So add up (a) a termination of your staff deal and (b) no specific offer of a freelance arrangement and whaddaya got? Most people would call that a severing of the ways or, as I put it on 3.8, a Joe Pesci-style whacking. Okay, so Variety came back later and offered to inject that green Re-animator serum and restore McCarthy to a semblance of life, fine. But they still cut him, Rooney and Elley loose upon heaving seas.