We all know Scott Rudin is crazy. But, when it comes to besting The New York Times, he’s crazy like a fox. There was a hilarious email war going on between the Hollywood/Broadway impresario and Craig Whitney, the NYT assistant managing editor in charge of “ethics and standards” at the paper, over Rudin’s new show The Year of Magical Thinking. (Talk about a pedigree: its star is Vanessa Redgrave, director David Hare and author Joan Didion, based on her book.) The New York Post‘s theater columnist was slipped the email exchange. Seems that Rudin was peeved that, while his play was still in previews, NYT.com encouraged readers to “write a review”. So on March 30, the day the show opened, Rudin turned the tables on the paper and ran ads quoting these so-called reader reviews and attributing them to The New York Times Online. A NYT lawyer demanded that Rudin pull the offending ads. Then Whitney complained: “Readers are entitled to trust that the appraisal came from someone actually employed by The New York Times — not from a letter from a reader.” Rudin shot back: “You refer to these online reviews as ‘letters from a reader’. They are not letters from any reader. They are reviews. You — the paper — label them reviews.” Whitney grew more angry (“I repeat, it is not only wrong but dishonest…”) and Rudin more snarky (“When the Times stops running Readers’ Reviews on its Web site, I’ll stop using them in advertising. You can look forward to seeing them anywhere and everywhere until then. If the paper desires to engage with me in a First Amendment dispute, be my guest.”) But then, Rudin went way over the line with this missive: “While it’s nice to receive lectures about ethics from the paper that brought us Judy Miller, Jayson Blair and the Duke lacrosse team, it’s not really what I was looking for.” Anyway, fascinating to see that not only retired NYTer Bernie Weinraub is having a theatrical problem with the paper.
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