New York Observer Fires Andrew Sarris Instead of Rex Reed for Some Reason

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06/11/2009 8:30 AM |

Word comes that the New York Observer has let go of ten full-time staffers; media people are welcome to pour out their 40s for the reporters and editors just thrown back onto the New York media employment carousel, but I’m busy being stunned by the decision to show the door to Andrew Sarris.

This is not exactly the new Voice forcing out Christgau or Hentoff: in print and public appearances over the last few years, Sarris has visibly been struggling to maintain his standard of work despite diminishing capacity. You could, I suppose, call this a mercy killing, except that a) in American film criticism there’s Agee, Farber, Kael and Sarris — in Soviet Russia Andrew Sarris mercy kills you — and b) the Observer‘s other lead film reviewer is Rex Reed. Did somebody bump into their elbow as they were pulling the trigger?

It appears that the Observer‘s film section is now the exclusive provenance of people who aren’t serious film writers: pretty much just anyone-can-play-guitar “pop culture junkies” auditioning for, and their godhead Rex Reed. Does anybody still read Rex? He’s like a geriatric Anthony Lane, for people who still have the one asexual gay friend that they invite to parties to say bitchy things.

Anyway, here’s to you, Andrew Sarris. Tonight I go home and reread favorite chapters of The American Cinema in your honor.

On the plus side of our flourishing economy and the esteem in which it holds film criticism, Jeff Lyons now has exactly one fewer jobs than I do.

3 Comment

  • As a former student of Sarris’s I can tell you that, even on a bad day, he’s capable of astonishing insight. Plus, unlike Reed, he isn’t a bigot. And won’t full time film reviewing interfere with Reed’s cabaret beat?

  • Some clarification courtesy Dave Kehr ( is that he’ll continue at the Observer as a freelancer rather than a staffer (as Sexy Rexy does, which I didn’t know). So this is largely symbolic. But, you know, it’s some pretty shitty symbolism.

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