Regarding Mary McNamara’s column “White Guilt Is Not the Point” [Jan. 11]: If you truly want to level the playing field in the entertainment industry, then Mary McNamara and her colleagues have to start celebrating excellence. Excellence wherever we find it. Excellence is more important than demographics.
When you and your colleagues stop focusing on the differences in gender and color and start focusing on the commonalities of our humanity, that which we all share, and the excellence of a movie, performance, work of art, no matter from whom it comes, the mindset will change, and we will finally level the playing field.
As a 61-year-old white male who has somehow managed to avoid the vicious societal persecution that has apparently befallen many of my brethren, I would like to say two things: 1) I found Mary McNamara’s column on the topic of “white guilt” and the entertainment industry insightful and entertaining; and 2) “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” was my favorite film last year. It’s actually possible in 2020 to do both.
Thank you, Mary McNamara, for continuously helping me sort out my complicated thoughts with your articulate columns about not just entertainment but society and culture today. This article referred to many strands of many important issues.
You are as important in helping me get through a day on Planet America as Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert.
The point is most likely “the ecstasy of sanctimony,” described by Philip Roth in “The Human Stain” as “America’s oldest communal passion, historically perhaps its most treacherous and subversive pleasure….”
Mary McNamara’s virtue signaling has surpassed tedious. Fortunately, it is possible to skip her next diatribe and turn the page.
James E. Moore II
I want to thank Mary McNamara for pointing out the overwhelming whiteness of Hollywood entertainment. I hope I live long enough for white America to understand that white privilege does not mean that all white people are guaranteed wealth and good health. White privilege simply means that the color of our skin is not a deterrent to education, employment, housing, health care and fair treatment by law enforcement. The longer white America denies the fact that every aspect of American life favors white skin, the longer this inequity will prevail.
Maybe white guilt is a good thing. Maybe it is high time we feel guilty for ignoring racism in our nation. Let’s do better.
Regarding “I’ll Take Greats for $200, Alex” by Robert Lloyd [Jan. 7]: Great line about “Jeopardy!” being “a quiet quest for excellence in a way that, say, ‘The Price Is Right’ is not.”
I read many critics whose taste I don’t always agree with but I admire because of their insights and style. For instance, I don’t watch/care about Adult Swim or obscure animated or DYI comedy shows, let alone network sitcoms (I gravitate more to dark, drama fare; grew up on the bummer/unhappy-ending ’70s movies of my youth), but I like reading [Lloyd’s] take on them nevertheless. You convinced me to give “The Middle” a chance.
Keep up the good work.
What a great article about the uniqueness of “Jeopardy!” and its host, Alex Trebek. I am a loyal L.A. Times reader because I appreciate writers like Robert Lloyd who articulate what I have not been able to put into words for myself.
The secret to the success of “Jeopardy!” is that both host Alex Trebek and the show itself respect the intelligence of the contestants and the viewers, without being pretentious.
Stephen A. Silver
Women writers also snubbed
Regarding “Host Ricky Gervais’ Apolitical Stance and Harsh Jokes Are No Match for This Crowd” by Lorraine Ali [Jan. 6]: While Ricky Gervais joked about there being no female directors nominated for a Golden Globe, no one seemed to even notice that there were no female screenwriters. But trust me, those of us who toil in the trenches noticed because we experience the discrimination every day. I’m a professor of screenwriting at Pepperdine and a produced screenwriter with a TV series currently in development at a major production company. But agents and managers won’t even take my call. We’re literally untouchables.
Without representation, we can’t access the top companies that produce award-winning films. For two decades male-driven shows have glorified antiheroes, culminating with one in the White House. My series features a female hero who battles the military-industrial complex to steer our country back toward peace, dignity and respect. The world needs our stories. Interested in representing me? Please reach out and maybe I’ll take your call.
TV’s best soap
Regarding: “Royal Drama Is Too Good to Pass Up” by Mary McNamara [Jan. 10]: As sand sifts through the hourglass so do the lives of Harry and Meghan. Why does this come as a surprise? Harry was always a renegade; it was inevitable that one day he would go rogue and he now has the perfect mate to do this with. It is indeed a new day for the royals, but some of us want to hang on to tradition and act as if nothing have changed.
Maybe Netflix should think about a series called “The New Crown” because, let’s face it, the queen will not be around forever, although it sure seems like it.
Poor Harry. Thank goodness he wasn’t first in line for the throne. Kate Middleton knew what Meghan Markle didn’t, and that was the simple fact that being royal can be boring at times with all of the petty rules and that doing your public duty with the people can be very tiring.
It seems that only in a Hallmark movie does the girl get the prince and live happily ever after.
I just read theater critic Charles McNulty’s commentary on criticism following the deaths of John Simon and Clive James [“Time for Critical Reassessment,” Jan. 12]: Beautiful and timely. And needed. Thanks for this wonderful piece of writing.
Farewell to Rush drummer
Regarding the obituary for Rush drummer Neal Peart: “Hard-Charging Drummer of Rush” [Jan. 12]: Thank you to Randy Lewis for a proper sendoff of a true rock icon.
Guatemala City, Guatemala
What about all that jazz?
How is it that there is not a single jazz event listed in the music section of “The Guide” in the Sunday Calendar section? Los Angeles has a vibrant and significant jazz scene. For The Times to exclude this creative community from its cultural calendar is inexcusable.
Pastrami and Buck Henry
The sad news about the death of Buck Henry [“Buck Henry, 1930-2020: Eclectic Comedy Writer, Actor,” Jan. 10 by Nardine Saad] brought back a special memory. On Dec. 8, 1980, I flew to New York with a print of “First Family,” a comedy directed and written by Henry, (I was an assistant editor on the film.)
That was the day John Lennon was killed. Both Buck and I were despondent over his death. Buck took me to lunch at Wolf’s Deli on 6th Avenue and claimed this was the best pastrami in NYC. He was right. In the next 10 years I ate at Wolf’s every time I was in New York and remember my lunch with Buck until Wolf’s closed in the early ’90s.
I miss Wolf’s, I miss John Lennon, and today is another sad day, but I treasure that pastrami sandwich with Buck Henry.
He put the ‘Phil’ in the L.A. Phil
I was surprised that music critic Mark Swed didn’t mention, in “Mehta Makes Webern Magic With L.A. Phil” [Jan. 13], what a difference a great orchestra performing in an acoustically stunning hall can make. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is an acoustical dump. In this [Disney Hall] performance, Zubin Mehta conducted one of the world’s great orchestras in one of the great halls.
Oh, and did you [know that] I changed the name of the band.
It was during Mehta’s time that Ernest Fleischmann hired me as a consultant to improve the orchestra’s marketing. At our first working meeting I said: “I want to change the name of the orchestra.”
He laughed and said, “What to?”
I said, “From ‘The Los Angeles Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra’ to the ‘L.A. Phil.’ ”
“Why?” he wanted to know.
“Because we don’t want people feeling they have to wear tuxes and gowns. We just want them to be comfortable and have a good time. And if they want to applaud between movements, so be it.
“We also want them to open their ears and minds to Bartok and Ives and Stravinsky so they’ll enjoy newer stuff.”
Just for the record.
Do we need Fox Soul?
Regarding: “Fox Soul Has Black Audience in Mind” [Jan. 13]: I am curious. Do the Grammys, Emmys, Tonys, Golden Globes or any award shows exclude Latin, Asian or African Americans? Do any television or radio networks, movie studios or print publications? Why, then, is it acceptable for Fox to come out with a race-defined streaming service? This one called Fox Soul.
I love and embrace all forms of ethnicity in our great American culture, but the acceptance of racial division by the conglomerates and even its target audiences is glaring. At a time when the the richest and most popular sports stars and entertainers are people of color (and I applaud that), shouldn’t we stop dividing and defining ourselves by race?
Two words you should never see in the same sentence: “Fox” and “Soul.”
Marina del Rey
Who is Russell Simmons, again?
Regarding “#MeToo Doc’s Team Talks Split” by Amy Kaufman [Jan. 13]: I think I recall hearing something about Russell Simmons but I’m not sure who he is. If that had been explained in the article I wouldn’t be writing to ask: Who is he?
Note: Simmons is a music mogul, entrepreneur and activist who cofounded the hip-hop label Def Jam Recordings and started several fashion lines, including Phat Farm.
Opinionated TV critics
Is there any thought to having a “television critic” occasionally write for the L.A. Times who doesn’t view all events, especially those involving our duly-elected president, through a biased, left-leaning lens?