UPDATED BELOW: Hopefully, this isn’t the start of a trend. “As soon as we found out about it, we raised a flag,” NY Times‘ Culture Editor Sam Sifton told me today. He’s talking about what The Denver Post did to a rave New York Times review of Julie Delpy’s 2 Days In Paris. new_york_times_logo.gifOn August 24th, The Denver Post published Stephen Holden’s August 10th review of the pic both in print and online. But not only was the critique abbreviated, its edit seemed to reflect the opposite tone and opinion of the original. So a clearly positive review became a negative one, even down to the headline. 2daysinparis_posterbig.jpgAs if that weren’t enough, The Denver Post then arbitrarily assigned a star rating — 2 1/2 stars — to the edited review that reflected the newly negative tone. (The New York Times does not even use star ratings.) Since The Denver Post subscribes to The New York Times syndicate, it had every right to pick up the review. But not to alter it or slap stars on it. Needless to say, Samuel Goldwyn Films went apeshit, claiming that The Denver Post edit impacted the distributor’s box office revenue in that town. I’m told that publicists alerted The New York Times, and the NYT syndicate promptly dealt with The Denver Post. As Sifton explained to me: “Our editors who run the syndicate come down heavily on people who mess around with our prose. In this particular case, it’s a drag for the filmmaker. In other cases, it’s a drag for our reporters. It’s one thing to take a 1,200 word story about government malfeasance and put it in a small town paper six states away. It’s something entirely different to cut down a review. But, to the best of my knowledge, someone in the Mile High City got booted about 2 miles up and won’t do that again.”

UPDATE: I just heard from Ed Smith, the Arts & Entertainment Editor for The Denver Post, in response to my request for his comment. I’ve edited down his email:

“Yes, we did a run a review of 2 Days in Paris by Stephen Holden of The New York Times. The review was edited, as are most wire reviews that run in our paper because of space. I was contacted by the local agency that represents the studio that released the film, complaining about the fact that the review was edited and that we gave it two and half stars (out of four). The studio complained to The New York Times wire service and culture editor at the Times about the editing of the review… On reflection, I probably was too harsh in my reading of Holden’s review, and it probably should have been a three star review at least. I ran the entire, unedited review on our website and removed the stars from the posted version. We also decided that in the future when running wire reviews we will not award stars unless the originating newspaper did so and that is a practice we’ve put into effect.”