Arriving today via Hachette Books, Movie Freak: My Life Watching Movies is a reminder of the final glory years of being a full-time print film critic. Owen Gleiberman’s memoir is also full of colorful descriptive details, the kind that also pepper the most memorable critiques of a film.
Gleiberman and former EW colleague Lisa Schwarzbaum will be at JCC Manhattan tomorrow night on Amsterdam Ave. for a book launch, signing and conversation event. Tickets are $10. In the meantime, here are a couple of examples of those delightful details.
In an advance excerpt published on Indiewire, Gleiberman recalls how unexcited the top brass at Time Inc. were when Entertainment Weekly launched. These tensions coalesced in the form of a lunch in a 34th floor conference room:
The other two Time bigwigs spoke their piece. Gil Rogin, who had the rather ominous title of corporate editor, looked like a leathery carp, with a gluttonous gleam and longish salt-and-pepper hair slicked back from his forehead. He was the most sardonic of the three, and he made the point, more harshly than [editorial director Jason] had, that the magazine was simply not “mainstream” enough. (I thought to myself: Really? We’re covering everything that’s out there.) Rogin took pains to let us know that he did get pop culture, recalling a highway drive during which he felt compelled to pull over to the side of the road because it was the first time he’d ever heard Peaches & Herb’s “Reunited,” and he knew that he was witnessing the rebirth of soul music. I found the fact that he told us that a little pathetic, and also a little touching.
Peaches and huh? Meanwhile, in an earlier exclusive excerpt from the book shared by TheWrap, Gleiberman retraces his long personal and professional relationship with Ben Affleck. It all started at a cocktail party at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival:
Ben told me that he and Matt [Damon] were fixated on one line I’d written. Reviewing “Disclosure,” the 1994 Michael Douglas/Demi Moore sexual harassment thriller, I’d said: “We know the face, by now, almost too well. The glittery charmer’s eyes, the long hair swept back with rakish panache, the mouth whose corners bend down into a pout of cold rage — it’s Michael Douglas under siege again, battling to save his job, his marriage, his sexual honor. Fight on, beleaguered white man!” Ben and Matt relished that “Fight on, beleaguered white man!”
Affleck told me that they said it to each other all the time. I adopted it as well: From that point on, Ben and I became friendly, talking at length whenever we ran into each other at a premiere party, and our version of a high-five was “Fight on, beleaguered white man!”
Little did Gleiberman know that that salutation would also eventually double as his professional battle cry. No longer with EW, he currently reviews films for the BBC.