Monday, December 29, 2008

Variety - Lyons and Me

Variety.com deputy editor Anne Thompson takes another swipe at Ben Lyons.

I have been a frequent critic of the new At the Movies movie reviewing team, Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz. In fact, at a screening of Tropic Thunder at Comic-Con, I was sounding off on Lyons to my colleagues when a man turned around from the seat in front of me and said, "Hello, I am Ben Lyons." Was my face red. Later, Lyons approached me in one of the convention hallways as I was sitting on the floor juicing up my laptop, and I snapped the picture above.

Clearly, he's a genial telegenic young fellow who loves movies and film fests (he was all over Toronto, getting his picture taken with celebs he was interviewing, like Keira Knightley). But these qualities do not necessarily a good film critic make. I couldn't help wondering, when Lyons recommended that audiences see Valkyrie (I also liked the movie, btw), if he wasn't keeping future E! access to Tom Cruise in mind.

The LAT went after Lyons last week, as others happily piled on. Does he have any supporters, as ratings plummet? Well, the one demo that seems to like him is 20ish young men like him. And I confess that when I visited Charles Fleming's USC entertainment journalism class, a few of the kids admitted to watching the show.

But how long can Lyons last against this barrage of naysayers? The other Ben, Mankiewicz, would be so much better if he had someone sharper to play against. I'd take even youngsters Matt Singer or Karina Longworth over Lyons any day. They are capable of a little depth of discourse, at least.

8 comments:

Matty D said...

I haven't seen the show so I have no real point of reference but could any of it be due to the fact that he isn't Ebert or Siskel or Roeper? I loved Ben Mank on TMC & I think he's extremely bright. Ben Lyons not so sure about cause I haven't seen the show, but maybe he just needs time to develop a style. Anyway, love the blog.

Scott said...

It's true, nobody will live up to Siskel & Ebert. But I was perfectly happy with Roeper and Phillips and A.O. Scott, even though none of them were perfect. Mank has potential and actually seems like he knows something about film, but it is hard to judge sitting next to Lyons. I might be better able to judge him if he were sitting next to an intelligent critic (I don't get TCM).

Don't blame you for avoiding the show--I did at first, too. But check out some of the "lowlights" links and you will quickly see why he is so despised.

Thanks for the comments.

Anonymous said...

Damn, get a life you bunch of whiny ass movie critics. You review movies for a living. Yeah. That's real journalism. Douchebags.

Sunny said...

I think raising legitimate questions about nepotism (in any field) is always a good thing. There are obviously serious concerns in this arena related to Ben Lyons & his TV career.

But I have to ask: why is Mr. Mankiewicz (his co-host) evidently so above reproach in this same area? If anything, his name is the one that carries the most caché in the film industry. And Mr. Mankiewicz’s condescending pronouncements are far more off-putting than Mr. Lyons’ genuine (if occasionally off-base) enthusiasm.

I appreciate valid criticism, and I think you make several legitimate points as to why Mr. Lyons is not qualified to co-host "At the Movies". I don’t disagree with you there. But for the most part the blog comes across as petty whining instead of sincere concern, and that works against your (valid) premise. But I commend you for your obvious passion & dedication to film criticism; I admire that very much! Take care & best of luck.

Anonymous said...

You have only yourself to blame. It's too bad, too, because it's people such as yourself, sadly, who keep the Ben Lyons-es of the world on the air. You've got a whole website here dedicated to criticizing this man, and when you meet him you don't call him to the carpet? You're -red fsced and embarassed-? No - you take that opportunity and when he says "I'm Ben Lyons" you lay into him in that public forum and show people just how unfit he is to be a television movie critic. But when it came time to really back up what you have to say and not hide behind a computer, you lacked the willpower (judging by your lack of comment in this blog about criticizing him to his face). AMAZING!

Scott said...

"You have only yourself to blame. It's too bad, too, because it's people such as yourself, sadly, who keep the Ben Lyons-es of the world on the air. You've got a whole website here dedicated to criticizing this man, and when you meet him you don't call him to the carpet?"

Just for the record, the person who maintains this web site (me) is not the same person who wrote this article (Ann Thompson of Variety). But thanks for your kind remarks.

Anonymous said...

Wow! He's on the road to getting FIRED!

I'm so happy the mainstream press FINALLY got around to covering this story and giving Lyons the criticism that he deserves. Took them long enough.

Soon it will be bye-bye Junior.

RJ said...

If Matt Singer got the job, I would watch the show again.