Peter Bart Has No Tolerance for “Blogdom”

On CNN’s Reliable Sources yesterday, host Howard Kurtz asked Peter Bart who, until recently was the editor of Variety, whether he was too cozy with Hollywood during his 20 years at the helm of the industry mag.

Bart turned the question into an opportunity to slam “blogdom.”

KURTZ: Now, when you gave up the editor’s job, you got some publicity, obviously. And in the “Los Angeles Times,” Patrick Goldstein wrote the following. I want to read this and give you a chance to respond.

“Until recently…” — and this addressing “Variety” rhetorically — “… your core showbiz audience was happy to read Variety’s cozy reportage about the industry, with its sunny take on box office returns and a front page filled with fanciful renderings of movie projects that would almost surely never end up being made. Variety made the industry feel good about itself. Variety ignored the dark side of showbiz, the endless paranoia, envy, desperation and jealousy that fuels so many people’s drive to success.”

Ignoring the dark side?

BART: Well, you see, that’s illustrative of the sort of nastiness that’s creeping in to blogdom, because Patrick Goldstein is irritated because not only does he have to write a column once a week, but he also has to do a blog. And all the reporters in town have to work harder and have to suddenly vent a great deal of blogdom.

KURTZ: But what about his point about “Variety” showing the sunny side of the business?

BART: It’s just absolutely ridiculous. I mean, why would we show this? We show over and over again — we review pictures, often usually tougher than the media do, the other media. We give the stories about who’s getting laid off and which company’s going under. And most of our coverage in the past year has been dark. Here’s the difference. We actually do the unthinkable. We check facts before we run them. I mean, the habit of blogdom, the conceit of blogdom, is to run a story and, if it’s wrong, you just pull it off the Web.

Later in the show, Kurtz interviewed filmmaker Barry Levinson about his new documentary Poliwood, which explores the nexus between politics, Hollywood and the news media. At one point, Kurtz asks Levison, “It’s almost become obligatory for celebrities to have a cause that they can champion. Are we suckers? Do we lavish too much attention on that?”

At the end of the interview, Kurtz teased his interview with actress/Twitterer Mariel Hemingway. Too much attention, Howard?