February 23, 2017

"Why Was Times Theater Critic Charles Isherwood Fired?"

Asks Boris Kachka at Vulture:
[L]ast year Isherwood asked culture editor Danielle Mattoon for a promotion to co-chief theater critic, an arrangement the art and movie critics share. He was turned down and wound up storming out of the office.

“Most of us were thinking, ‘What the fuck is wrong with you? You have the best job in the world,’” says a colleague. “If I had the role of second-string critic, where you could discover things and make a different kind of mark … I don’t think there was a lot of sympathy for the way he was behaving.”

Yet the dismissal still confuses this colleague, who notes, “It’s very rare for the Times to fire somebody. They could have shifted him to the municipal-bonds beat and the guild wouldn’t be able to do anything about it, so it is kind of shocking. But Charles had no rabbi left at the paper, nobody really protecting him, and maybe he was aware of that and gave up, or kept pushing the limits.”....

41 comments:

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Trump supporter?

MikeR said...

One of these stories where I never heard of a single person involved, and don't care about any of them.
But, "had no rabbi left at the paper, nobody really protecting him". Huh - rabbis protect people? I mean, I like rabbis, respect them, but I never heard that as part of their jobs. I don't think mine could protect me at my job.

BarrySanders20 said...

Isherwood kept asking his boss for the promotion. She finally told him to knock it off. He said , "Would you fire me if I don't?" And she said "I sher wood."

So that's the answer to the vexing question of who fired Isherwood.

Laslo Spatula said...

Inflating one's self-worth until that balloon pops.

When your balloon pops there is no guarantee that you are ever given another balloon.

I am Laslo.





rhhardin said...

He sounds like a drama queen.

traditionalguy said...

We can guess where this new "you're fired" attitude comes from. Courage in leadership is back.

pkay said...

Free Margo Jefferson!

Laslo Spatula said...

More details on this story.

Now the NYT is free to replace him with a reviewer of color.

I think that's how it works.

I am Laslo.

Shane said...

Now THIS is why I read Althouse!
Some minor, arrogant prat demanding more when he has a dream job to many in his dying profession.
This is real news.

Hot tip: Here's an employment article for your next compelling news blod: http://www.grandhaventribune.com/Government/2017/02/22/Council-revises-Village-Manager-Burns-employment-contract

Laslo Spatula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laslo Spatula said...

Review of "Charles Isherwood's Firing" by Charles Isherwood...

The acting of Charles Isherwood, playing the role of Charles Isherwood, was magnificent, enchanting even. By turns fiery and wonderfully droll, the audience can't help but be mesmerized by his insightful passion for Theatre...

Sadly, the role of his boss was not nearly as well-acted. The performance was one-note, a caricature of the overly self-important toady promoted above competence thanks to a prolific ability to brown-nose the superiors: the audience has no doubt seen this before, and feels let down by the perfunctory nature of this disappointing lackey...

Reading between the lines, this show can be seen as an example of the world that exists now under Trump: the scapegoating of those who dare to tell the truth, and in this light Isherwood shines as an example of stoic bravery in the face of incompetence, if not utter madness...

I see great things in the future for Charles Isherwood: a star that bright cannot be confined to such a small stage, and no doubt a bigger stage awaits his arrival....

I am Laslo.

MayBee said...

I thought only women got fired for asking for more.

Titus said...

I was bummed when I heard he was gone. I loved his reviews, especially the very off-Broadway stuff he reviewed.

tits.

rehajm said...

The Times nurtures assholes to addicts. Given that kind of environment it does lead one to ask what you need to do to be fired. Plural verbs for singular subjects?

Ann Althouse said...

I'm surprised to hear that it is so hard to get fired. But I guess it's like tenure... part of a strategy to bring in very strong people. But you can't keep bringing in people if you can't offload the people who've stopped being so good.

David Begley said...

Lots of people should be fired at the Times starting with Tom Friedman. The guy who doesn't understand 9/11 and Pearl Harbor.

Crazy Jane said...

My impulse is to sympathize with Isherwood here.

The NYT may be the apex of journalism, but it has not been a nice place to work for at last the last two generations. Despite its vaunted commitment to diversity, the place is run by a bunch of chest-beating white males, tall handsome ones except for the publisher. The long knives are always out for people of difference.

There were public defenestrations of top editors Howell Raines (and demotions of many of his favorites) in 2003 and Jill Abramson in 2014; the first was appropriate, the second indefensible. She was replaced by a light black editor who sucked up to the squishy publisher, a scion of the Ochs family, and shivved her. No style points were exhibited in the handling of either case.

I heard the story once of a very young woman who had come to prominence for something she wrote at age 17. After her graduation from college (Yale or some such, of course) she was hired at the Times in her early 20s and apparently resented by newsroom staff as not ready, which was probably true. Her new colleagues, self-regarding snobs that they were, made a point of ostracizing her. When an older, more established woman writer dropped by the newbie's desk to ask her to lunch after a couple weeks, she burst into tears.

(Having a rabbi in your organization is northeast-speak for having highly placed defender/promoter/mentor.)

Laslo Spatula said...

Ann Althouse said...
"I'm surprised to hear that it is so hard to get fired."

Althouse used the "I'm surprised" gambit!

What can I say? That certainly garnered my attention...

I am Laslo.

Bill Peschel said...

From the story: "There are hard rules against promising favorable coverage at the Times and elsewhere."

I guess the political reporters covering Hillary were excused from this rule. They certainly had no problem letting the campaign edit their articles.

Laslo Spatula said...

I'm also surprised Althouse did not comment on my 7:41 comment.

A reviewer reviewing his own firing: I thought that Droll Meta would've tickled her.

The only appropriate way to end this comment:

Sigh.

I am Laslo.

Roughcoat said...

I'm so glad I don't live in that world or having anything to do with it.

Skipper said...

Who cares?

Fernandinande said...

culture editor

Can't save changes due to user permission issues.

Shane said...
Hot tip: Here's an employment article for your next compelling news blod:


“I'm happy with it,” she said.

Darrell said...

First they came for Milo.

Titus said...

The rabbi quote is a northeastern thing. You people wouldn't get it. We have the most jews here in the U.S.

Daniel Jackson said...

Rabbi? A somewhat dated term. My old man used this term in the 60's. I thought he was secretly going to shul.

Bay Area Guy said...

We'll know that President Trump has officially drained the entire swamp, when The NY Times hires Laslo Spatula to replace Charles Isherwood as its theater critic. Until then, we continue to fight:)

The Cracker Emcee said...

It must be a Washington State thing, too. I've been hearing the Rabbi/ mentor thing since parochial school. We thought it was hilarious at the time. A rabbi!

MisterBuddwing said...

I'm reminded of Edith Oliver, who for many years was The New Yorker's second-string theatre critic - she mostly did the off-Broadway stuff, while Brendan Gill did most of the "heavy" lifting on Broadway.

Not acquainted with Mr. Isherwood, but I can only agree with his colleague who said he had a dream job. Why give that up?

Eric said...

The Times needs to cut costs and maybe he didn't inject enough anti-Trump stuff into his pieces. They're pretty far out on that limb right now.

Xmas said...

If "Book of Mormon" and "Avenue Q" were there "good" shows, I'd hate to see what sort of crap this poor guy had to watch.

I mean, I do know. I saw "Evil Dead: The Musical" off-off-Broadway. While I didn't get "Splatter Zone" seats, it was fun and silly. But, if was a theater critic, I'd murder someone. It would be like a film critic only being allowed to review Uwe Boll movies. Or a music critic only allowed to review K-Pop singles.

MayBee said...

Is he gay?

If he's gay, that makes him harder to fire.

FullMoon said...

'twas the emails that done him in:

“Times executives combed through Charles’ ­emails and found numerous messages between him and Scott Rudin, where Isherwood said negative things about Brantley, and complained about his assignments and complained about editors at the paper.”

The source added that more emails along the same lines were discovered between Isherwood, who worked at the paper for 12 years, and Robyn Goodman, who’s produced shows including “In the Heights” and “Avenue Q.”

The source added, “The Times argued that those emails showed he had a too-cozy relationship with Rudin and Goodman, and they used it as grounds to fire him.” Isherwood, we’re told, is in arbitration with the paper and is going after the Times for wrongful dismissal.

YoungHegelian said...

Times executives combed through Charles’ ­emails and found numerous messages between him and Scott Rudin

Oh, jeezo-peep, not another technological/legal imbecile who doesn't realize everything in company email belongs to the company and that you, as an employee, have no expectation of privacy when using any kind of company equipment.

Just think, if Isherwood had only gotten himself a gmail account, he'd still have a job today!

rehajm said...

I'm surprised to hear that it is so hard to get fired. But I guess it's like tenure... part of a strategy to bring in very strong people. But you can't keep bringing in people if you can't offload the people who've stopped being so good.

To ponder: Local 31003.

TWW said...

Talk about "Inside Baseball".

Clyde said...

It's a good thing for the Times' political writers that they aren't held to the same standard of their theater critics, where getting too cozy with your subjects is apparently a fireable offense.

Titus said...

He was a theater critic for the fabulous Times. Of course he's fucking gay.

wow.

Yancey Ward said...

If he had just been giving head to Hillary and Obama like all the political reporters the NYTimes, he would have probably skated.

Temujin said...

I have to say, I really don't care about any of this. I just don't read the Times anymore (too many other sources for news), and don't care that their assistant theater critic wanted more oomph in his title. But I will say that I read more about The Times than I ever read in the Times when I did read The Times. And that's the way of our times. But the next time I write, I'll try to make it more timely, less time consuming.

openidname said...

First-world problems.