By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
By Claire Lawton
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Anna Merlan
Then New York Newsday's parent company, the Times Mirror, shut the paper down, effectively un-hiring me. That things clearly could have been worse--i.e., I could have been in New York with a two-year lease when the bad news hit--seemed less than reassuring.
Good karma has kicked in since then. The Star-Ledger, a Newark, N.J. daily owned by the Newhouse chain, is hiring new writers--a rare situation in these troubled journalistic times. Next week, I'll move to the East Coast and begin pontificating about pop culture in a Sunday column. My wife and I have found a charming (real-estate-speak for "tiny") one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan's West Village. Future months will be devoted to writing at the Star-Ledger; reviewing films for Mr. Showbiz, an online service; and--big surprise, folks--working on a novel.
My excitement over the move is equaled only by my sorrow at giving up such a great gig. When I'd talk to area journalism students, I'd always tell them that being a staff writer for the Observer is the best job in the world. And I meant it. If my prose has improved during my short career, this newspaper's determination to nurture young writers is primarily responsible.
The list of colleagues I should thank is way too lengthy to print here. However, one must be singled out: editor Peter Elkind, who, four years ago, took a chance on a movie-obsessed kid who wanted to be a critic, harnessed his energies, honed his prose, and even wrangled him a loan to finish college. Talk about a friend in deed.
I'd also like to thank the once-squeamish Dallas mom who wrote to say that she'd attended a John Woo action flick on my recommendation and instantly became a fan; the guys who wrote to question my manhood for not liking Cliffhanger; the woman who clipped my piece on Before the Rain and sent it to friends to explain why she liked the picture; the irate Oliver Stone fan who wrote, in reference to my pan of Natural Born Killers, that he wished I had been one of Mickey and Mallory's 52 victims; and anybody else who gave up a few minutes each week to read my stuff. Over the years, you continually reminded me that a critic is just a moviegoer with a byline. Your knowledge, passion, and attentiveness made me feel like I wasn't merely writing for a paycheck, but sending out a weekly public letter to my pals in the dark.
Thanks again, and take care.
--Matt Zoller Seitz (reelingaol.com)
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