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New Times Update: LA Weekly Poll Arrives; Chain Chops High-Paid DVD Columnist

As promised a while back by LA Weekly film editor Scott Foundas, the paper upheld its pledge to spearhead a variation on the critics' survey recently spun off from the Village Voice to indieWIRE. Published yesterday, the First Annual LA Weekly Film Poll is a surprisingly comprehensive if decidedly (thankfully?) no-frills effort; you've got your tabulation and ranking in a form convenient enough to print out, jam on the fridge and trail through the DVD queue. There are no breathless pronouncements bringing up the rear, begging to be read; nothing subjective at all, really, besides the selections' order in relation to your own -- if you have an order at all.

In keeping with The Reeler's unofficial New Times news mandate, it bears mentioning that Paul Malcolm's long-running LA Weekly video/DVD column Video Store Burnout is, in fact, burned out. After sustained protest from Foundas, editor-in-chief Laurie Ochoa and Malcolm himself, word is that New Times administrators kicked next year's budget back with the Burnout line omitted, thus saving the chain roughly $4600 -- or $88 per week -- over 2007.

"I'm disappointed, but I totally expected this would happen at some point or another," said Malcolm, whom New Times last axed in the mid-'90s after the chain acquired Portland's Willamette Week, where his column was syndicated. In an interview earlier today, Malcolm said he learned of its ultimate demise over lunch with Foundas on Dec. 14 -- the chain never contacted him personally. "But I've also been doing it for 12 years," he continued, "so I should also underscore what I said in my final column this week -- that I got the shove I needed, because I've been doing it so long. I really appreciated the way Scott handled it; he fought the good fight in defense of the column. He held it as long as he could. I guess the only thing I was surprised by was that it took them so long to get around to me. ... The beancounters finally got to the back pages and saw editorial content back there. 'Oh, what's this?' "

A source sends word that the paper plans to replace Malcolm's column with its syndicated DVD Dish feature, described as "little more than recycled reviews of movies that were in theaters six months ago and/or short blurbs on 'classic' titles (Rocky and Superman II being among the recent ones)." Not quite Symbiopsychotaxiplasm or the Ernst Lubitsch reissues Malcolm was turning readers on to, but hey.

Meanwhile, Malcolm is grinding through a film studies dissertation at UCLA, where he hopes to earn a doctorate within a year and a half. And maybe, after a break, he might seek a little more Burnout. "I wouldn't mind looking for a couple of outlets that might be interested in running some kind of video reviews in that format," he told me. "I enjoy doing it, you know? It was something fun to do, but it was only a matter of time before New Times caught up with me again."

Posted at December 28, 2006 2:10 PM

Comments (2)

Paul Malcolm was a very good and very approachable columnist - a writer who genuinely was curious about the full range of DVDs available, despite his paper being based in Hollywoodland. As much as I like Superman II (who would dare dislike anything associated with General Zod?), it is unfortunate that Malcolm will no longer provide guides to the shelves marked "other" in addition to those marked "new Hollywood."

Paul Malcolm... drop me a line... DP

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