Dissing Joel Stein

The new L.A. Times op-ed columnist hasn't published his first piece yet, but already the LA Weekly's Nikki Finke calls adding Stein the dumbest mistake Michael Kinsley has made as the Times' opinion editor.

At issue is not even the 33-year-old writer’s talent, or lack thereof, though his résumé reads like a case study of someone failing upward. No, it’s that Stein, a scavenger of snark, may very well be the most conflict-riddled columnist working in show-biz journalism today, and that’s saying a lot. This guy makes George ("a plug for every freebie, a gush for every gig") Christie look Pulitzer Prize worthy.

How in the world could LAT editor John Carroll, who constantly scolds about journalism ethics, make a deal with the devil in such a lame and likely futile attempt to attract a younger demo? Carroll has famously said, "Don’t be a piano player in a whorehouse." Yet, beginning in January, journalism’s equivalent of the Chopin of Show Biz will be working at his newspaper....

[fast forward]

Stein is in some way compromised at every major Hollywood studio except Sony. And with ICM repping him for speeches and Endeavor making his TV deals, Stein is also compromised at two of the top five talent agencies. Stein is unabashed about seeing his new column as a steppingstone to full-time employment by Hollywood.

She details Stein's personal and financial involvement in TV projects, including a recent show that almost made it onto the ABC schedule and a new blind script deal with Fox Television Studios. Stein tells Finke that his being upfront about the conflicts "only makes things more interesting and true." A Times spokesperson says: "We often run opinion pieces by people who are involved in the subjects they are writing about. Joel Stein is not an employee. He's writing a column about Hollywood, but that is based on his being deeply involved in it. So there's no secret about that."

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