[Update #4 (the others are below): Martinez has resigned. Well, maybe he does have some modicum of good judgement, after all. I'm sorry that it wasn't in play earlier, and wish him well. We all screw up, and for one, I hope that he and the rest of the Times management - realizing that they've stepped in it - learn from this mess.]
You know, I haven't spent a lot of time angsting about the LA Times since I canceled my subscription (more time!! a perk!!), but I do have parts of the paper in my RSS reader.
So tonight I'm taking a break from work and scanning, and I discover this - thing - from Times Editorial Page Editor Andres Martinez. I know I'm going to kill any chance I have of ever doing an op-ed there...and I'd love to, just so my mom would get all thrilled...but this is the sloppiest [two words denoting a sex act in which one partner is usually kneeling] of a rationalization I've read in a long time. The subject is simple; the Times will this weekend turn management of the editorial pages over to uber-producer and hair gel model Brian Grazer. Grazer is represented by a PR company who employs a woman named Kelly [no last name given] who happens to be ... wait for it ... sleeping with Andres Martinez, who made the decision to give Grazer the keys for a day.
And it suggests three things worth noting:
- Martinez judgment is about as bad as Duke Cunningham's. When I do my reality show "What The Hell Were You Thinking?" this will definitely rate an episode. I can't imagine that anyone in a position of authority in a media company would be tone-deaf enough to let this pass. But they were, and this says a lot about them and their judgment.
- It reinforces the amazing halo effect that the rich and powerful have on the media. Grazer isn't just a smart guy and a successful producer in film and television -
Given his well-known intellectual curiosity and his track record as a Hollywood producer, Brian is a terrific choice to kick off this quarterly program of guest editors. Brian and his partner Ron Howard have had a hand in bringing such stimulating fare as "Felicity" and "24" to the small screen (as well as my fav sitcom of all night, the tragically short-lived "SportsNight") and such blockbusters as "A Beautiful Mind" and "The Da Vinci Code" to the big screen.
Now my personal theory is best summed up by a quote I vaguely remember from one of the Prizzi books, in which it is suggested that people hang around the really rich and powerful in the hopes that they will "spontaneously give them a lot of money". Or a development deal, or a ride in their Bugatti with two ounces of blow and a bunch of cute young publicists.
- It demonstrates a level of craven excuse-making that would make any decent journalist need a bib. Here is more Martinez:
At no point was Kelly involved in pitching the concept of a guest editor, or any individual. My conversations were with Allan, who himself had no role in our subsequent talks with Brian and Michael Rosenberg, Imagine Entertainment's president.
The decision to ask Brian to do this was not mine alone, but was taken by three editors here, and then approved by the publisher. The suggestion that my relationship with Kelly had anything to do with this choice is without merit. Suggestions that she or anyone else has favored access to our pages is also absurd. When Allan has pitched op-ed pieces to the Times - and we can only think of two instances this has happened in the last year - he has dealt directly with that page's editor, Nick Goldberg.
Neither he nor Kelly would dream of approaching me.
And I would never dream of approaching a friend in political office to help my son get an internship...oh, wait, I did...and no political donor ever does it to get access or influence...oh wait...sell us another one, please.
And when the newspapers are in the pockets of the wealthy and powerful (and the beds of their publicists), how, exactly are they supposed to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable"? Might make that next date awkward, Andres, no?
Color of the day: disgusted.
Update: corrected silly misspelling of Grazer's name...Update #2: In a stunning display of spin-mastery, Kelly's boss Allan Meyer says:
"If this thing was killed over this, I think it would be an indication of the moral bankruptcy of the Los Angeles Times. If the newspaper is so fearful of what uninformed people think that it would allow itself to be stampeded in that way ... I think it would be a very sad day."I haven't seen this good an attempted reversal since I watched Biggest Guy wrestle in high school...
[Update #3: Bill Boyarsky, former Times city editor, has a grown-up response to the Times' newest calamity:
To keep faith with its readers, the Los Angeles Times needs to put all its resources into an investigation of what's been going on in the Current section and the editorial pages, now tainted by the conduct of editor Andres Martinez.
A beefed up team of top reporters should join media reporter Jim Rainey in examining past Current sections and editorials to see whether they have been influenced by publicist Allen Mayer and his associate, Kelly Mullens, who has been dating Martinez.]