Here it is, the Sunday of the Oscars, and the one day of the year that Hollywood deserves a free pass. The rest of the Los Angeles Times is covering every inch of the Academy Awards (including great photos like these from Al Seib). But the Opinion pages prove just how out of touch this newspaper is with the city and the industry that primarily pays its way. The front page of the op-ed section features two negative pieces about movies and the Oscars. The first is written by New York-based professional snarkster Joe Queenan, who doesn’t understand Hollywood in the least. He compares the Oscars unfavorably to the Grammys when we all know that corruption within the music industry is so prevalent that it makes the movie machers look like celibate nuns. Queenan asserts that the Oscars don’t celebrate the most popular movies, but even amateurs have been gassing about that for eons. This isn’t exactly fresh, or daring thinkspeak. And to point out that Jack Black will make more from one movie than Helen Mirren will make in her entire career is churlish, and beside the point. The other article purporting to offer a deeper look at the current state of the movies is penned by New Yorker and frequently insightful author about Hollywood Neal Gabler, who unfortunately this time around argues that movies don’t matter anymore. Yawn. Again, it’s not fresh, or daring POV. And if there’s one place movies do matter, it’s the LA Times, which not only depends on studio advertising for a huge percentage of its income (and to fund all those foreign news bureaus), but also expanded its on-line Envelope.com about the Oscars into a stand-alone section of the print paper. Note that these two pieces are the only Opinion coverage of the Oscars in today’s paper. It’s as if, on Inauguration Day, the Washington Post were to run only two Opinion pieces about why this country doesn’t need a U.S. President or how the voters picked the wrong guy. But here’s my gut check: 364 days a year, the LA Times runs mostly puffery and press releases about Hollywood. They’re busy investigating judges in Las Vegas, but manage to come in a distant second (to The New York Times) in coverage of Hollywood news like the Pellicano scandal in their own backyard. Surely, the Opinion pages could understand that, on Oscar day, everybody in the world becomes a movie fan. Even if they haven’t seen a film in a cineplex more than three times a year, they still discuss the Academy Awards. Bad enough that the hometown newspaper reached to NY for its movie industry commentary on this day of all days, but to insult the biz that’s keeping the lights burning on Spring Street, and others in this city, is just plain rude. It isn’t worthy even of owners based in Chicago. Go piss on Hollywood another day.
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