Who's the 'Respected New York Film Critic' Who Plagiarized One of His Reviews?


Since last week narrowly missed Movieline's quota for outlandish critic-related scandal, please find below yet another rousing bit of gossip involving a publicist, a "respected New York film critic," and the cryptic, curious case of a review that borrowed a little too liberally from another writer. Which is about all anyone knows -- or all anyone's telling, anyway.

Veteran indie-film PR and marketing guru Reid Rosefelt recounted the story today on his blog, reflecting on the time he accidentally found a critic's blurb (which Rosefelt had earlier sent to a client) embedded in the work of a "legendary playwright and critic":

It was hard to believe that anybody would pull such a brazen stunt, least of all this brilliant writer. I couldn't figure out why. And then I thought a bit more and realized he'd been going through some hard times. It was hard not to see that he had a drinking problem. I decided it was unintentional. Perhaps he had read the playwright's review at some point, the words stuck in his mind and he just used them again without knowing. It would be crazy otherwise to choose lines that were penned by one of the most renowned playwrights of the twentieth century. I imagined the critic would be horrified if he found out about it. Of course, it was conceivable that he did it on purpose. If that was the case, it was very sad.

That's all you're going to get out of Rosefelt. A bit of gender specificity and a mention of "decades of accomplishment" aside, the remaining story not only declines to name the critic but barely hints at his identity. Moreover, Rosefelt takes advantage of the moment to restate his commitment to withholding that identity, because the only reason anybody would care about it in the first place is to revel and/or traffic in the misery of another. "[I]t's great fun to see a person of achievement humiliated," he writes. "It would sell a lot of newpapers, fire up countless blog posts and make great fodder for TV shows. What fun! [...] I know I am going to get emails after this from friends wanting to know the name of the critic. I suppose that says it all."

To say Rosefelt -- with whom, full disclosure, I've worked editorially in the past -- protests too much is a bit of an understatement. Gossip as media criticism of gossip doesn't cancel out the fact that he's dropped a doozy of a blind item from his perch above the fray. I'm not out to see anyone "humiliated," but you can bet your ass I'll bite: Anyone have any suggestions for a male film critic based in New York who might have had a drinking problem (that really narrows it down) despite "decades of accomplishment"? Oh, and who might have a thing for the text of legendary playwrights?

Tips are welcome (anonymity assured), or leave educated guesses in the comments. And I've already ruled out Armond White kiping "retroactive abortion" from Arthur Miller, so try again.

· The Story of the Plagiarizing Film Critic [SpeedCine]


  • Victor Ward says:

    No guesses, but the whole gossip field day excuse is ridiculous. If any kind of writer has plagiarized material, then his or her reputation should be tarnished.

  • The Pope says:

    Is Rex Reed still allowed anywhere near a keyboard? That is, since his arrest in 2000 for shoplifting. I mean shoplifting => plagiarism is sort of a natural progression, don't you think?

  • Martini Shark says:

    Was going to go with Reed as well. I tried to place him in some kind of Dane Cook/Louis C.K. equation but that is some heavy stretching for a Monday.

  • TedM says:

    Legendary New York film critic who was a playwright who had a drinking problem?
    I'll take James Agee for $1000 Alex.