Nikke Finke writes that “Hollywood can now safely ignore” Variety’s Peter Bart:
Bart’s new title is “vice president and editorial director of Variety“, but it’s meaningless. He and the company are playing this like it’s voluntary, but Peter has been pushed “essentially up and out” of the newsroom, as one of my sources puts it. But he’ll be allowed to continue as the “face” of Variety in public — which is something Bart cares a lot about. His column and blog will continue. (Although the AMC weekly interview show Shootout he co-hosted with Peter Guber has been cancelled and replaced with quarterly primetime specials.)
Hollywood can now safely ignore Bart. [Variety editor Tim Gray] is the guy to suck up to there.
On Wednesday, Amy Wallace of Portfolio described Bart channeling his inner Luigi Vercotti:
While at a movie premiere after-party in New York City about a month after my story was published, I spotted a studio chief I knew, who appeared to be making a beeline straight for me. “I have to tell you a story,” the studio boss said, launching into a tale about a lunch with Bart the previous December. It wasn’t the first lunch the two had shared, but this one was memorable.
According to this studio chief, before they’d even looked at their menus, Bart announced: “Your studio has not been advertising enough in Variety. That has affected my Christmas bonus.” Bart said there would be repercussions, the studio chief told me: “For the next six months, you won’t catch a break in Variety.”
I asked if Bart made good on his threat. “Oh yes,” the studio chief said, noting that even on the weekends the studio came in No. 1 at the box-office, the story in Variety would start off with a dig—something like, “Despite a string of flops…” So what did you do, I asked. The studio chief didn’t hesitate: “We upped our ad buy.”
If true, that’s certainly consistent behavior from a guy who in 2007 praised “solid, homespun totalitarianism”, and wrote:
The efforts of the Bush administration to “sell” democracy around the world have underscored the fact that our form of government is like a hothouse plant — one that thrives only under rarified conditions.The president wags his finger at Vladimir Putin but — let’s get real — Putin understands how to run Russia just like Marshal Tito understood Yugoslavia and, yes, Saddam kept Iraq glued together. So here’s one more vote for solid, homespun totalitarianism.
Fascinating how Hollywood types seem to love “solid, homespun totalitarianism”, isn’t it? As James Lileks wrote a few years ago about those in the industry who lived in fear of Bart’s words, “Maybe directors like dictators because they understand the desire to have final cut.”