Amy Wallace Revisits Her Iconic Peter Bart Profile

For geeky followers of the Hollywood trades, it doesn’t get much more Memorial fun than this. In Nieman Storyboard’s latest “Annotation Tuesday!”, The Awl’s Elon Green and reporter Amy Wallace line-item annotate her famous September 2001 Los Angeles magazine profile of then-Variety editor Peter Bart.

It says something about the wily Hollywood industry skills outlined by Wallace in her cover story that today, improbably, Bart has weathered a storm of change at Variety and cranks out a weekly column alongside three new editors-in-chief. Green asks at one point how the celebrated Los Angeles magazine piece feels to its author 12 years later. Wallace’s answer:

The main way that the piece has become utterly dated is that the trades are no longer as powerful as they were then. Variety is trying to reboot at the moment and The Hollywood Reporter is a glossy vehicle for luxury advertising (that actually caters brilliantly to this same insecurity I describe here, by celebrating power brokers and putting their pictures on high-quality paper).

What hasn’t changed at all is the you’re-only-as-good-as-your-last-project mentality. What hasn’t changed is how being perceived as successful is half the battle. And the fear – the fear hasn’t changed. If anything, as new ways of consuming entertainment have threatened the revenue streams of traditional Hollywood, it’s only grown.

Wallace also recalls a key moment of article-structure inspiration that came from a conversation with J. R. Moehringer and outlines her admirable method for vetting info about her subject. The original profile piece ran around 13,000 words. It’s now, delightfully, longer.

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