Patrick Goldstein's final Big Picture column for LA Times *

Patrick Goldstein doesn't explain the end of his film column, but he seems to be defending how he went about it. The piece begins "When I began writing this column in 2000..." Skipping down to the nubs:

I see my job as connecting the dots, digging past the superficial headlines of the day to get at deeper issues. It's easy, for example, to slam the academy for having zero people of color up for any of the major Oscars, as happened in 2011, but the real problem is that Hollywood is one of the most minority-free industries in America.

If you've read me, you know I admire outsiders, not just because they're great copy, but because mavericks — be it Lee, Mark Cuban or Billy Beane of"Moneyball" fame — inspire innovation. They take more risks than any corporate behemoth, which is why New Line (before it merged with Warner Bros.) ended up with the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and Lionsgate hit the jackpot with"The Hunger Games."

Since that first "Charlie's Angels" column, I've written hundreds of columns. This is my last. I've blown plenty of calls. I've gotten too caught up in the emotion or hurly-burly of the moment, like when I wrote after9/11that Hollywood would forever embrace a new seriousness of purpose. (Hah!) But I hope I've gotten a few things right and even occasionally made a difference.

Years ago, I wrote a column that inspired a flood of hostile letters. One day my phone rang: It was Larry Gelbart, the great playwright and screenwriter of "Tootsie," "Oh, God" and other movies. He offered encouragement, saying I shouldn't back down. "Remember," he told me. "If what you're writing isn't likely to offend or annoy anyone, go back and start again." It was great advice, whether you're creating a comedy, making a film like "Red Hook Summer" or writing a newspaper column. Never be afraid to raise a ruckus.

Update: Nikki Finke weighs in at Deadline, citing sources who say Goldstein took a buyout and agreed to a no-disparagement clause: "I’ve certainly had my differences of opinion and fact with Patrick, including several very public spats, but I greatly respect and admire him – even when he’s wrong."

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