UPDATE: *I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Los Angeles magazine won 13 awards in the 21st annual national, city and regional magazine prizes. In addition to silver for general excellence, Los Angeles won gold awards in food/dining writing, personality profile, feature design, and leisure and lifestyle interests. But nothing for any Hollywood coverage.* What a shame that I’m constantly disappointed by the Hollywood-related articles in Los Angeles Magazine. Either they’re puff pieces or clip jobs or worse (aromatherapy for celeb dogs, etc.): there hasn’t been a single entertainment-related story that’s made news since Amy Wallace’s 2001 exposé on Peter Bart. (And there was a lot more trenchant stuff that could have been written about the controversial Variety editor in that piece and wasn’t. Wallace eventually left to edit entertainment biz stories at the Los Angeles Times.) You’d think that a mag whose backyard is Hollywood would at least make a valiant attempt to clean the Industry’s clock. You’d think that — and you’d be wrong. So I’m not surprised that a piece on Paramount’s Brad Grey in the latest issue breaks no new ground and suffers from being told from Dreamworks’ POV, or that in the same issue a lengthy profile of Mike Sitrick’s crisis PR firm that focuses mostly on Hollywood-related clients and merely showcases ad nauseum his company’s “we manipulate the media with ease” formula like an advertorial. (Read my previous Sitrick Reps Burkle. Sitrick Reps Ovitz. No NYT Mention of P.R. Connection) Contrast the Sitrick story with, say, Kevin Roderick’s hard-hitting look at the Fleishman-Hillard PR firm for LA mag, and they’re worlds apart. I don’t get why LA mag is so soft on Hollywood and anything tangential to it: surely, the plastic surgery advertisers wouldn’t mind tougher stuff.
Also, plenty of good local journalists and now bloggers would jump at the opportunity to dive into the Hollywood fray for a publication with a reputation for paying pretty well. But I’ve heard they can’t get hired there because of the cliquish no-outsiders-need-apply atmosphere that permeates the editorial offices. (Even well-known writers aren’t happy. Annie Bardach complained vociferously to me how LA mag failed to put her 2005 Schwarzenegger/American Media exposé on the cover or deliver on its promise to flog it to the media.) Sadly, showbiz has come to accept millimeter-deep Hollywood reporting from LA mag, which explains why showbiz also ignores LA mag. I myself only heard about these two recent articles because of Roderick’s LAObserved.com posting — not from Hollywood chatter. Sure, the publication does good service articles and decent local government coverage (again, thanks to Roderick). Still, is that reason enough to subscribe? Because L.A., and Hollywood especially, deserve tougher self-representation than this glib and superficial glossy. Meanwhile, the pub should really consider: why waste the trees?