Media people

Nikki examines Bernie

You knew this was coming. The LA Weekly's Nikki Finke turns her Deadline Hollywood column this week to an examination of last Sunday's farewell piece by New York Times Hollywood correspondent Bernie Weinraub. En route, she explains that, unlike her friend, she doesn't envy the money of the film people that Hollywood journos write about.

Rarely has one article caused such a commotion on both coasts as journalist Bernie Weinraubís goodbye to the Hollywood beat in The New York Times on Sunday. It was as if narrator Nick Carraway were given space in The Paper of Record to write honestly about the swell set, only this time he surprises us by revealing that he longed for the green light of status and money as much as Jay Gatsby did. Yet, as an ink-stained wretch and damned proud of it, Iíve got to say, Huh?

First, let me fully disclose that I wonít be attacking my pal Bernie personally over what is a beautifully written, though emotionally befuddled, look back at his 14 years inside and outside the entertainment business. (Iím especially sad that he revealed that incident in which he fell asleep during an interview with Jim Carrey, because I used it to blackmail him almost daily.) But for days now, my answering machine and e-mail have been filled with ďWhat did you think of it?Ē messages, so I feel compelled to publicly examine Bernieís 2,800-word tale of his Hollywood-style seduction.

And what oozes from it is the gunky notion that a journalist wanted to live like the people he covered here. And he isnít alone. The studio and network parking lots are filled with the Porsches and BMWs of reporters and critics who jumped the fence (though, to Bernieís credit, marrying a mogulette instead of writing your way into The Good Life remains a novel route, nonetheless). How abnormal I must be then. Because, clearly, Iím missing what appear to be the essential chromosomes composing the entertainment-biz reportersí DNA: the Hollywood Envy gene.

[fast forward]

Bernie himself, and others, have suggested that the reason I donít have the Hollywood Envy gene is because I grew up with money. Itís true that Hollywood homes canít ever impress me, since I hung with a crowd of old money in grand houses where threadbare arms on the living-room sofa were considered a badge of honor among families having the good taste to redecorate only every other generation. Itís also a fact that my motherís insufferable snobbery so infected me that I look down my nose at Hollywood people who make up in the pushiness department what they lack in pedigree.

Finke's bottom line is that journalists get to be the self-appointed arbiters of integrity, "so Iíve always considered us to be cuts well above anyone in Hollywood."


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