Monday, January 28, 2008

Daily Sound Columnists Given Pink Slip

Late yesterday afternoon, columnists for the Santa Barbara Daily Sound, of which I am one, received an e-mail from editor and publisher Jeramy Gordon, notifying us that "until further notice, all Daily Sound columns are on hold."

(And if you think I feel awkward reporting this news, well you're right.)

The notice that columnists are in effect being laid off is bound to raise eyebrows. In response to my request for further details on the reasons for the layoffs, Gordon politely declined to say anything on the record. We did discuss my own column and we have agreed that the one that is scheduled to run this Wednesday will be my last.

Gordon's e-mail indicated that the "hold" would be temporary, "not more than a month or two" and that after it was released the columnists "will all be invited back."

I was able to reach fellow columnist Leslie Westbrook who writes "This & That" which appears on Mondays. She had already turned in her column for today when she received the e-mail from Gordon.

She was unhappy about not getting at least two weeks advance notice of the layoff but hopes that Gordon "will be able to invite the columnists back as promised." She added, "I love writing the column, and I cherish the feedback from my readers."

Westbrook plans to continue her travel writing for other publications as well as her work as a book coach and ghost writer.

In a paper which publishes six days a week and runs approximately two local columns per day, at least a dozen columnists are believed to be affected.

I too hope that the layoff is temporary and I hope to be back to writing my Wednesday column for the Daily Sound. But whatever happens, I hope that the Daily Sound remains around for a long time. Preferably with columnists.

* * *

By all appearances, the first Sunday of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival appeared to be a big one. Sunday afternoon I headed over to the Center Stage Theater to watch the documentaries made by Santa Barbara Filmmakers. I got there just as the program was beginning and only a few empty seats remained.

Later in the day, I went over to the Metro to see the Q & A with director Norman Jewison. It followed a screening of the movie "Moonstruck." When I walked in as the closing titles were rolling for Moonstruck I noticed that pretty much the only seats available were the less desirable ones in the first few rows of the theater.

Outside afterwards I walked past a long line of people queued up to see Beautiful Bitch. One couple in line told me they had been waiting for nearly an hour.

I guess the theory that the weekend film fest crowds are composed of mainly "L. Aliens" who leave by early Sunday afternoon to head south back home doesn't seem to hold up.

* * *

Norman Jewison on the late Steve McQueen, whom Jewison was initially reluctant to cast as the lead in the Thomas Crown Affair. "You could take lines away from Steve and he wouldn't care. He was a movie star, not an actor."

* * *

I found out that the photographer who snapped that picture of me talking to Cate Blanchett on the red carpet Saturday Night was none other than film fest director Roger Durling.

And Cate's red carpet appearance made Page Six of the New York Post.

But it was Julie Christie who won the SAG award last night for best performance by an actress.

My movie suggestions for today:

The Thomas Crown Affair 10:30 am Metro

Amal 11:00 am Metro

Match Makers 4:00 pm Center Stage

Up The Yangtze 6:30 pm Victoria Hall

Javier Bardem receives the Montecito Award 8:00 pm Arlington.

* * *

The other day I noted the News-Press' absence as a sponsor of the film fest this year. Someone pointed out that in light of the fact that the 10 days of the film fest is about the only time I write about something other than the News-Press, Wendy McCaw ought to think about re-upping the paper's sponsorship next year.

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