Last month, media outlets and friends of LA Times entertainment writer Geoff Boucher reported that he had left abruptly left the paper. He hadn't — exactly — but he had gone home mad and told his bosses and friends he was fed up with the paper's latest entertainment side overseer, John Corrigan. High-level discussions ensued, including a visit to Boucher's home by editor Davan Maharaj, and a vacation trip to Florida. But now Boucher is back, and he tweeted Monday: "Interviewed Clint Eastwood over on the Warner Bros lot today...great way to go out." When a follower asked if that meant he was leaving the Times, Boucher replied, "Yes after 21 years." A senior editor on the paper's second floor, where the Calendar staff is located, confirmed the departure via email, and newsroom colleagues have been posting farewell messages on Facebook.
A former news reporter at the paper, Boucher had built a strong reputation in Calendar as a writer and as the creator of the Hero Complex blog — so admired by the paper that the editors and publisher built an annual film festival around it. Boucher reportedly began talking to potential employers and partners in Hollywood and the comics world after he became convinced his future at the Times was spoiled, but I don't know if he landed any good prospects or a job.
This has to be a wake-up call to Maharaj about his choice to put Calendar under Corrigan, the former Business editor and a news side guy inexperienced in arts, culture and entertainment reporting. Columnist Patrick Goldstein recently left as well, reportedly after being told that he would have to become a Calendar blogger if he stayed. By most accounts morale pretty much sucks among those still in the section. And it's not like the coverage is getting smarter, quicker or more thorough.
On August 23, when the word first spread through the Times that Boucher had left in a huff, the former entertainment editor, Craig Turner, posted on Facebook that it would be a very big loss for the paper's standing on Hollywood coverage. Excerpt:
A few words here about Geoff Boucher, who today told his editors that he is leaving the L.A. Times after a long and distinguished career. I do not know where Geoff is going, but I'm confident that wherever it is, he will succeed.
Geoff, the man behind the "Hero Complex" blog, is a signature voice not just of the Times entertainment coverage, but of the entire paper. I worked directly with him for
more than three years and found him to be a rare talent, indeed.
Most really good reporters can do one or two or, at best, three things very well. That was certainly the case with me. They might be good news reporters, or investigative types or feature writers. Geoff is that unusual reporter who does everything well.
He has good sources and breaks news; he has a fine feature touch for Sunday Calendar covers; he was an early adapter to the web and developed "Hero Complex" into the industry's most credible and well-written blog on comics and genre movies; he is a superb and creative rewrite man, increasingly a lost art in the news biz....
When I was an editor, I always assumed that no one is irreplaceable, but entertainment is a big and complex assignment and it will be that much tougher to cover without Geoff. Still, I expect them to forge ahead. Meanwhile, I will look forward to whatever Geoff does next.
I won't speculate on why Geoff is leaving the Times, but he is the fourth person to leave the entertainment department this month.
Geoff Boucher: Facebook