Dear Gossips,   

Earlier this week, entertainment journalist and awards prognosticator Scott Feinberg sent an email to studios and award campaign managers, more or less demanding preferential screenings of Oscar hopefuls. Feinberg is the executive editor of awards for The Hollywood Reporter, and frequently hosts their for-your-consideration events and roundtable discussions, so he is already someone with a higher degree of access than most, but in the email, Feinberg wrote, As you plan the rollout of your film(s), I would like to respectfully ask that you not show films to any of my fellow awards pundits before you show them to me, even if that person represents himself or herself to you as (a) a potential reviewer of it, (b) needing to see the film in order to be part of decisions about covers, or (c) really anything else.”


It's the “really anything else” that kills me. “There’s no reason anyone should get to see this movie before me,” is a helluva thing to say. Obviously, this wild ass email got transmitted far beyond Feinberg’s intended recipients, as deranged demands usually do. It reminds me of the time another entertainment journalist, Jeff Sneider, tweeted—X’ed?—that he was “the most important name on your call sheet” because “I can f-ck up your day pretty easy”.

Jeff Sneider's tweets

Are the entertainment men okay? I don’t think they are.


I can kind of understand where Feinberg is coming from. As long as the strikes are ongoing, especially the SAG-AFTRA strike which prevents famous people from making appearances on things like roundtable discussions and FYC events, the only thing Feinberg really has to cover are the movies themselves (quelle horror). A generous read is that he might be feeling some pressure to fill his editorial calendar and guaranteeing he’ll be able to break coverage of the films is all he’s got right now.

But then Feinberg apparently threatens studios with limited coverage of their awards hopefuls if they don’t give him preferential access, saying, “moving forward, [THR] may take that into consideration during the booking of roundtables, podcasts, and other coverage.” It’s just movies, my guy. No one’s life is on the line.


He also says that “every second counts” at film fests, where thousands of critics are screening films at the same time, and often rush to publish reviews as soon as embargos lift. We can have a whole separate discussion about how we here at LG go about planning festival coverage at TIFF, for instance, but I have to say, being first is never the priority. It’s not even a top-three priority. Frankly, based on responses I get from you readers, it seems you prefer to see a movie for yourself, then come back later and engage with the review. Which is fine! I want engaged readers, not button-smashing monkeys chanting, “First! First! First!”

Feinberg’s unhinged email might be strike stress rearing its head, but it is at least in part down to old-school publishing standards of breaking stories before anyone else. Without the celebrity-driven roundtables and splashy FYC events, all that’s left to “beat” the competition is being the first to break coverage of an upcoming film. It is important to note, though, that THR and most of its peer publications are all owned by Penske Media, so really, who is Feinberg beating to the punch? All the clicks and whatever ad revenue they’re good for today go to Jay Penske. It’ll be interesting to see how this awards season unfolds, not only for the strike of it all, but to see how many first-run exclusives Scott Feinberg ends up getting.

Live long and gossip,