There is no joy in Pulpville with this announcement:
The Sun-Sentinel is transferring resident film critic Phoebe Flowers to another writing assignment and will not be running in-house movie reviews in the future. Instead, they'll be running retreads from Tribune Company heavyweights like the L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, and Newsday.
And there are murmurings that this could be a Tribune Company-wide trend that could kill local movie coverage in a number of Tribune newspaper towns.
We first got the hint from this post on Miami Herald film critic Rene Rodriguez' blog, Reeling. I contacted Rodriguez, who said his information came confidentially but that it was true. I then contacted Flowers, who confirmed that she was getting new
job duties but didn't want to expound on any of the changes for publication.
Personally, I always enjoyed reading Flowers' reviews. She's very pop-oriented and I didn't always agree with her, but she has a unique style and a fresh take that you're not going to find among the staid know-it-alls at some of the bigger newspapers. We've had some fun regarding her sometimes rambling blog posts here, but dammit, we're going to miss her weekend reviews.
This unfortunately falls into the category of more cost-cutting at the expense of local coverage. The Local section has been taken over by newsbriefs. The Sunday arts tab recently went kaput. And now we're losing local film coverage. Who's next, Tom Jicha?
And another chilling thought: If the Sentinel is dumping its local movie reviews, how many other Tribune newspapers are doing the same thing?
No, I don't like it. I don't like it at all.
UPDATE: Here's a post from Roger Moore, the long-time Orlando Sentinel critic, on Phoebe's job change. It quotes a resignation e-mail from Flowers to the Florida Film Critics Circle, which she chairs:
As of Friday, the Sentinel has relinquished me from any and all film-critic-related duties -- because who needs an in-house critic when you've got the wonder of WIRES, right? I'm still working here full-time, although what I'm going to be doing in that "time" remains nebulous. It definitely won't be reviewing movies, though, in any form. So I need to not only resign from the FFCC, but step down, obviously, as chairwoman, as soon as a replacement can be find.