A longtime employee of L.A.’s New Beverly Cinema says Quentin Tarantino’s new management has forced her out and is ruining the beloved repertory theater. Julia Marchese, one of a few staffers who stayed on through Tarantino’s takeover last month, was told she would be co-manager of the New Beverly when it re-opened this month after renovations. She says this week she was demoted and unceremoniously forced to quit by Tarantino’s longtime personal assistant Julie McLean, who is now acting as General Manager.
“I went through the last six weeks really thinking Quentin was going to make it better,” Marchese told me today. “The thing that’s most shocking to me is that he’s allowing it and I can’t even talk to him about it. To not even be allowed to state my case is unfair.” She says through the Tarantino-led renovations and October 1 re-opening, she has not been allowed direct contact with Tarantino despite being one of just five staffers on the management team. Tarantino appeared in person last week for 20th anniversary screenings of Pulp Fiction and The Professional but is now also prepping for his Hateful Eight shoot.
Tarantino’s takeover of the New Beverly injected a dose of media attention into the single-screen repertory house, which has struggled financially and had been subsidized by the Pulp Fiction director for seven years. But it also caused controversy among dedicated New Beverly patrons loyal to the theater owner and proprietor, Michael Torgan, who by many accounts had no say as Tarantino took control of his family business.
Torgan has declined to comment on the New Beverly situation and the financial details of the management change have yet to be revealed. Marchese is not going out so quietly. “It absolutely breaks my heart to say this, but the New Beverly Cinema that have I loved and stood so ardently for – and that I believe so many of you out there love and stand up for – is gone,” she wrote in a blog post Wednesday.
Hired by original owner Sherman Torgan in 2008, the rainbow-haired Marchese became a fixture of the New Beverly community, introducing films and running the ticket booth and concessions on any given night. She helped bring in a series of films programmed by celebrity guests including Edgar Wright, Joe Dante, and Tarantino himself. Last year she finished Out Of Print, a feature-length crowdfunded documentary about the theater as one of the last bastions of 35mm film projection featuring interviews with theater regulars and filmmakers like Wright, Dante, DC Pierson, Patton Oswalt, Joe Carnahan, and Kevin Smith.
But the New Beverly that Angelenos loved is no more, she says. The theater’s familiar website has been shut down in favor of a new one. Tarantino installed spy cameras in the box office, snack bar, manager’s office, and projection booth. Real butter for popcorn is being replaced with “buttery topping.”
In her new position sharing co-manager duties with longtime guest programmer Brian Quinn, Marchese expected increased responsibilities, but says she was never told what those responsibilities were. She was never granted direct contact with Tarantino, and instead was required to go through McLean for all correspondence regarding New Beverly business. All communication regarding the New Beverly was strictly prohibited including on social media.
“Although I was now a manager in title, I was never given any job parameters or instructions,” she wrote. “I was constantly left in the dark, my emails unanswered. Emails about the status of our social media. Emails about why showtimes aren’t easy to find online. Emails about our inventory, about the theater, about my position. Emails asking for help. I was completely frozen out.”
In a meeting with McLean on Monday, Marchese says she was repeatedly asked if she was going to quit. Her duties were reduced with no shift guarantees. She had been planning to premiere her documentary Out Of Print on 35mm at the New Beverly in January (it currently does not have distribution). Instead, she posted it online for free today.
“I linked to the film because it shows how great the New Beverly is, and how much I loved it,” she said. “This is gone now. This place doesn’t exist anymore. The thing that’s always been special about the New Beverly is that intangible spirit, and if you crush it, it’s nothing.”
Tarantino and McLean have not responded to requests for comment.