Media people

Whither Anita Busch

Nikki Finke says in the LA Weekly that Anita Busch, the former Hollywood Reporter editor and writer for the LAT and NYT who was threatened over pursuing a story on Steven Seagal and the mob, has quit the business.

Not just because she was sniffing around a story that ended in her fearing for her life, not just because she burned her bridges at the major media outlets, but also because the Los Angeles Times and the Hollywood press corps turned their backs on her when she came under what we now know was a genuine threat.

“She told me she’s never going to work as a journalist again,” one of her closest friends tells L.A. Weekly. “It’s not so much what happened to her but the whole way this went down. How she was treated left a sour taste.”

She is gone and, worse, she is near-forgotten, an inconspicuous end to an esteemed career. So I, for one, am going to apologize to Busch on behalf of everyone who covers Hollywood: Yes, we are at fault. Yes, we didn’t take this seriously at first, second or third. Yes, we made the mistake of putting personality before principle. Shame on us — especially now that this ongoing Hollywood puzzle is starting to fall into place.

Finke refers to last week's criminal charges against Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano in the Busch case.

Finke calls Busch "high-strung" and writes that she "was known for her take-no-prisoners style of reporting and fierce spirit of competition on the entertainment beat...A stilted writing style and a mania for industry minutiae prevented her from successfully moving beyond the ghetto of the trade papers. When she did try gigs at Premiere and Entertainment Weekly, she didn’t last long. When she scored the L.A. Times gig it was something of a shock. She was there less than a year. Again and again, the rap on Anita was that she didn’t play well with others, and complaints about her behavior from inside and outside the media mounted."

Finke also adds: "Busch wouldn’t return my phone calls. (Though a guy called me anonymously and warned repeatedly, 'You’re being monitored. Everything you say about Anita Busch.')"

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