In a striking move that reflects changing state of film criticism, Variety has laid off its longtime chief film critic Todd McCarthy.
Neil Stiles, publisher of the Hollywood trade paper, said that chief theater critic David Rooney is being let go as well. "We are eliminating all full-time review staff for film and theater," he said.The paper will now rely exclusively on freelancers and in-house staffers with other duties to review movies and shows. Stiles claimed that Variety will not cut back on the number of movie reviews it carries, which last year totaled about 1,200.
Variety and its competitor the Hollywood Reporter have always been known for reviewing a broader array of films around the world and at festivals than any other publications. Within the entertainment industry, Variety reviews have traditionally carried a significant amount of weight.
McCarthy is hardly the first high-profile film critic to lose his post, as scores of critics have been let go or have taken buyouts as the publishing industry struggles with declining circulation and ad revenues. However, the loss of a reviewer with the title of chief film critic could be a blow to Variety's credibility and prestige. McCarthy has worked at the paper since 1979.
"People still want to reviewed by Variety and we want to make sure we do at least as many as we have always done," said Stiles. "The challenge for us is being flexible in the face of economic realities."
Variety's chief television critic Brian Lowry, who also writes a column and a blog and occasionally reviews movies, will remain in his job, Stiles said.