From my erstwhile LA Weekly colleague Steven Mikulan comes an alternately hilarious and horrifying piece about critics who eat, drink, and otherwise embarrass themselves at openings. There's too much dirt in it to quote much, but this is a typical anecdote:
"I had a classic message on my machine when I was representing a free holiday celebration," says one longtime publicist. "This somebody asked for backstage passes so he could go into the greenroom, where the refreshments were. And for this, he'd write 300 words on his Web site. He used the word 'refreshments' three times."
Apropos Playgoer's recent point about the proliferation of under-qualified online amateurs crowding the field, Mikulan sums up the culprit(s) here:
Stuck at the bottom of what is literally a journalistic food chain are the writers whom publicists routinely describe as B-list or "second-tier" critics — reviewers for a vast, unincorporated territory of neighborhood broadsheets, ethnic tabloids, ad-for-review papers, student newspapers, public-access TV and radio programs, vanity zines, theater Web sites, and blogger-critics. This "B-list" has dramatically expanded its theater clout with the Internet, and, while the World Wide Web has democratized such formerly elite realms as political journalism, it has paradoxically reinforced the authority (some would say tyranny) of theater critics by increasing their numbers. The proliferation of reviewers has started a conversation in theater circles (as it has in film) as to who, exactly, is a legitimate critic and whether this proliferation weakens critical credibility.
(Illustration by Jesse Lefkowitz for the Weekly.)