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November 22, 2005


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Jason Grote

This is a terrific idea. I have been wanting to blog about Isherwood in particular (having taken swipes galore at Zinoman already) but have been exceptionally busy. I'm also writing a piece for Contemporary Theatre Review that will mostly complain aobut critical infatuation with cheap Beckett/Mamet simulacra but will definitely indict the NYT as well.

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that the Wen Ho Lee and Judy Miller (and to a lesser extent, Jayson Blair) scandals indicate what might be wrong with the NYT's theater coverage; it's a sheltered culture of power, in which clout counts for much more than almost any aesthethic criteria. This explains why some unwatchable thing by poor old AR Gurney at the Flea gets treated with kid gloves while Rinne Groff, Lucy Thurber, Itamar Moses, Neena Beber etc etc get savaged. What editor is going to go after a reviewer for attacking a relatively unknown writer? Whereas, if they went after Albee (Brantley's review of SEASCAPE today notwithstanding, it's a revival and it already won a Pulitzer) heads would roll.

So, yet again, the NYT's staff puts callow careerism ahead of the public interest. Naturally, WMDs in Iraq are a much more important issue than theatre is, but it's a symptom of the same thing. I'll tell ya one thing, though, I haven't seen APPARITION yet, but if Isherwood attacks it unjustifiably I am not going to relent until he gets fired. Even if it takes decades.


I don't read the Times (sacrilege, I know) but what the hell, count me in - I'll email a letter in, why not? And perhaps we should all coordinate blog articles sometime after this holiday, whatta say? Get you and George and Martin and everyone to blog about the ineffeciency of the Times Theatre reviewing - who knows? Maybe we'll get some head to roll somewhere.

Let me know.

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