New film critic at LAT: Betsy Sharkey *

I guess it was personal with Carina Chocano. [Or not. See note.] Two months after laying her off, the Los Angeles Times today named a new second film critic to work with Kenneth Turan. Betsy Sharkey transfers over from editing; this feels in part like a precursor to the naming of a new Calendar overseer, which apparently is coming (bankruptcy willing.) [* Update: More background since I posted, from a source not at the Times: "LAT editors have been taking a lot of heat, inside the movie world and out, for having only one staff movie critic. Quite understandably, movie companies do not like it when freelancers they have never heard of review their movies, sometimes at extremely abbreviated length. Betsy’s hire was an act of triage and does not reflect some 'personal' problem with Carina."]

The memo:

To: The Staff
From: Russ Stanton, Editor
and Rich Nordwind, Calendar Editor

Betsy Sharkey, who has spent the last 10 years helping to guide our entertainment coverage, will refocus her skills on two of her great
loves, writing and movies, in a new assignment: film critic. She'll join lead film critic Kenneth Turan to form a powerful team reviewing movies and commenting on the world of cinema.

Betsy joined The Times in 1998 as the television editor and quickly brought a new energy to the coverage, shepherding a hard-hitting series that looked at the lack of diversity in prime time. Since then, she has been responsible for the revamp and relaunch of Weekend Calendar and then became film editor, working with our critics and reporters to bolster our coverage of the increasingly complex world of movies and the constellation of stars who populate it.

Most recently, Betsy has been entertainment editor, responsible for directing the movie, television and pop music coverage and helping to launch The Envelope's highly successful print edition. She also has helped with the strategic rethinking of the paper's mission as a member of the Reinvent committee.

Most of her career, though, has been as a writer. Before joining The Times, Betsy wrote for the Adweek group of magazines, where she worked with legendary editor Clay Felker. She also has written extensively on film and television for a diverse range of national publications, among them the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Manhattan Inc., TV Guide, US Weekly and Esquire. She also has co-authored two memoirs by Oscar-winning actresses: "Looking for Gatsby" with Faye Dunaway, and the upcoming "I'll Scream Later," with Marlee Matlin, which will be published by Simon & Schuster in the spring.

Betsy began her career with the Dallas Morning News, where she covered entertainment, city life and business issues and was a member of the team that was a Pulitzer finalist for coverage of the Braniff International Airways bankruptcy in 1982.

She will report to film editor Tim Swanson and begins her new assignment immediately.

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