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» Film-Tech Forum   » Community   » Movie News   » Elvis Mitchell Terminated As Chief Film Critic Of Movieline Over Review Mystery

Author Topic: Elvis Mitchell Terminated As Chief Film Critic Of Movieline Over Review Mystery
System Notices
Forum Watchdog / Soup Nazi

Posts: 215

Registered: Apr 2004

 - posted 04-23-2011 09:57 PM      Profile for System Notices         Edit/Delete Post 
Elvis Mitchell Terminated As Chief Film Critic Of Movieline Over Review Mystery


XCLUSIVE: I've just been told that Penske Media Corp has terminated Elvis Mitchell after more than 3 months as's chief film critic. The early end to his contract follows a company investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mitchell's recent review of Summit Entertainment's Source Code for the site. The company is making no formal announcement. But here is what I've been able to find out. [Full Disclosure: PMC also owns, but all its media properties are managed separately.)

A Summit rep tells me that Mitchell was shown a final cut of the film Source Code on February 24th in NYC. His review of the movie appeared on on March 31st. That same day, the pic's director Duncan Jones tweeted, "Find it odd Movieline choose to complain about Jeffrey Wright smoking a pipe, something in an old draft of the script thats not in the film." The reference was to what Mitchell had written in his review: "It’s up to Jeffrey Wright, as the administrator supervising the Source Code — the machine that keeps firing Colter back, back, back to the recent past — and his eccentric brio to keep the silliness from piling up like ash from his pipe. That’s how you know this film is science fiction — someone is smoking indoors in the United States — and that Wright is a martinet whose malevolence must be checked."

After the director's tweet was brought to Movieline's attention, I questioned an editor there who emailed, "We’ve indeed been working hard for a week to ascertain exactly what happened…" When Movieline asked for a formal explanation, Mitchell told editors that he was at the screening and that it was all a misunderstanding and that he would provide a written explanation. Now Mitchell's contract has been terminated early.

A former New York Times movie reviewer hired in late 1999 until he departed in April 2004, Mitchell was announced as Movieline's Chief Film Critic on January 12th of this year joining the site's Chief Critic Stephanie Zacharek and staff critic Michelle Orange. At the time, Mitchell was described by Movieline as "a leading voice not only in film criticism and popular culture but in the business of film, all of the things that Movieline is about".

I've known Mitchell personally since 1996 and believe him to be a brilliant writer and reviewer. But controversy also has caught up with him again and again over the years. Some of it was captured in this New York Magazine article published right after he left the NY Times. Most recently Mitchell was announced as co-host on Roger Ebert's new review show Ebert Presents At the Movies only to have his departure announced shortly after the premiere date was announced. Before that, Sony's Columbia Pictures announced it was hiring Mitchell to start a New York office with producer Deborah Schindler in March of 2005. The studio hoped Mitchell would scout new minority talent and make movies for minority audiences. But he never showed up for work, insiders told me at the time, so Schindler headed the office solo. To this day, no one at Sony knows why Mitchell went AWOL, and he refuses to talk about it. Before that, Mitchell also had a stint as director of development at Paramount under his pal Brandon Tartikoff but departed after six months also under controversial circumstances.

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12655
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99

 - posted 04-23-2011 11:46 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This guy sounds like a rancid douche.

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Carl Martin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1373
From: Berkeley, CA, USA
Registered: Feb 2002

 - posted 04-25-2011 03:30 AM      Profile for Carl Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Carl Martin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
movie reviewers regularly get piddly little details like that wrong. sometimes major stuff. i've never heard of any consequences. what's so special about this case?

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Manny Knowles
"What are these things and WHY are they BLUE???"

Posts: 4077
From: Bloomington, IN, USA
Registered: Feb 2002

 - posted 04-25-2011 03:36 AM      Profile for Manny Knowles   Email Manny Knowles   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
yeah i don't get it -- where's the crime?

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12655
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99

 - posted 04-25-2011 04:05 AM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My guess would be writing about part of the movie that wasn't even filmed. I wouldn't trust a reviewer who didn't actually watch the movie.

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 4855
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 04-25-2011 09:41 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Possibly what they are upset about is that maybe this guy got hold of a script that he shouldn't have had access to. Maybe he never even saw the film. No matter, it seems like much ado about nothing. Then again, from his track record, Joe's assessment seems right on the money....maybe they had had it up to their eyeballs with this gavone and just needed an excuse to fire his sorry ass.

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Bill Gabel
Film God

Posts: 3851
From: Technicolor NYC, NY, USA
Registered: Jan 2002

 - posted 04-25-2011 10:10 AM      Profile for Bill Gabel   Email Bill Gabel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
How about that quote issue Columbia/Sony did afew years. They used quote in their newspaper ads from a fake critic.

The New York City and Tri-State Film Critics are a very funny group of people to deal with. [thumbsup]
I deal with them all the time.

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Mark Ogden
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 648
From: Little Falls, N.J.
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 04-25-2011 01:18 PM      Profile for Mark Ogden   Email Mark Ogden   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've got a feeling that this is more prevalent than you'd expect. I remember years ago when Roger Ebert was going thru his whole jaw surgery/cancer thing that in some of his reviews he would get facts and entire plot points wrong. I would read some of his reviews and think "I wonder what movie he saw, because I saw the same one and I don't remember any of that." I thought maybe his mind was scrambled from the chemotherapy or something.

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Martin McCaffery
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1601
From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 04-25-2011 02:43 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Getting stuff wrong is nothing new. The sainted Andre Bazin, who everyone taking a film criticism course has to read (at least back in the 70's when I was taking them) does a big exposition on the power editing while describing a scene not in the movie he is talking about.

I'm pretty sure you can go through the history of film reviews and find many examples of things just wrong. Not to mention reviews done from other than final release cuts.

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Pravin Ratnam
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 775
From: Atlanta, GA,USA
Registered: Sep 2002

 - posted 04-26-2011 09:22 AM      Profile for Pravin Ratnam   Email Pravin Ratnam   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Film criticism as a profession is pretty much done. A lot of newspapers have canned their reviewers and opting to go for syndicated reviews. With blogging and people sharing their views on movie clips via youtube, very few pay attention to film critics anymore.

The future lies in mostly people who review films for pure fun and nothing else.

Having said that, wow, this Elvis Mitchell guy sure seems to have some screws loose for him to be MIA on so many past projects.

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