Andrew Sarris Era Not Quite Over Yet in NYC


Andrew Sarris's canning this week at the New York Observer stirred some strong reaction among media observers charting the death of film criticism. But word from another source this morning urges calm in the face of crisis, arguing that the 80-year-old Sarris -- who originated the auteur theory and literally wrote the book on American cinema -- isn't shuffling off to pasture quite yet.

One of Sarris's critical peers emphasized this morning that the Observer merely eliminated the legend's staff position -- still not the most savory treatment for the man often considered the father of American film criticism, but also not a cause for the kind of cultural alarm summoned around the Web on Wednesday. For starters, Rex Reed is not usurping Sarris's sinecure as the paper's lead reviewer (even if Reed unofficially held that role already by virtue of his often radioactive critical broadsides). "Andrew, along with a dozen other writers at the rapidly sinking weekly, was taken off staff," according to Dave Kehr, who heard it straight from Sarris's wife, the also-esteemed critic Molly Haskell. "[B]ut he will continue to write on a freelance basis, exactly as Rex Reed does currently."

Which is great news, if only to keep Sarris in the running for my annual Top 10 list of Top 10 lists, of which he is a hugely influential offender. So buck up, everybody! Hope does spring eternal.

· Andrew Sarris Persists and Endures []