Wednesday, December 03, 2008

We Bombed In White Plains: Journal-News Axes Drama Critic Jacques Le Sourd


After They Trimmed Fat, Now Gannett Is Trimming What's Left of Muscle


As Gannett goes about the business of gutting its newsrooms as part of an effort to trim 10 percentof its staff, there is little rhyme or reason of who stays and who goes.
Well, maybe not quite. Sometimes, it just comes down to money, which is easy enough to do when most of your newspapers are non-union.

And so it goes for Jacques Le Sourd, who has been the drama critic for Gannett, in whatever it has called its newspapers in New York's northern suburbs, since 1975.
Now, it's one lumbering title, The Journal-News (a former employer of mine), which announced yesterday it was cutting 36 employees. But none were mentioned by name. However, word quickly got out yesterday that Le Sourd was among them, and his departure was duly noted by Michael Riedel in the New York Post.
You could make an argument that a theatre critic is a luxury best disposed of at a time of austerity in the news business. And the Journal-News has never been mistaken for an overstaffed operation.
Still, Le Sourd is as close to an institution as the paper had, and not just because he lasted as long as he did. Le Sourd's criticism was winning because it was informed, unflinching and always honest. The guy's B.S. detector was always on.

"The show features really bad acting, a hideous set, ugly costumes, ridiculous choreography, a grim-looking chorus, a dumb story and an overall, giant leap backward when it comes to concept."

"The show has substandard songs. It has stars ready to deliver material that they don't get from the authors. It has a book that twists on itself so it winds up in a hopeless gnarl.
By the time you find out whodunit, you really don't care."

Le Sourd could be withering, but not in the John Simon sort of way -- being vicious for the sake of being vicious.
If he didn't like something he was not shy. But this was clearly a man who loved the theatre and was happy to share his passion when something worked, like Spring Awakening.
"This show does what we had almost forgotten Broadway shows are supposed to do: For a couple of hours, it takes your mind out of the preoccupations of your life, to a different time and place."
The Journal-News functionaries believe they can get by without Le Sourd. Maybe so. But that's not a good thing, especially when the paper keeps offering fewer reasons for why people should spend (now 75 cents!) their money on its pallid product.
Judging by the latest circulation numbers (101,000 and falling), the J-N keeps getting panned by readers. It's a safe bet that Le Sourd won't be one of them.

2 comments:

CRABBY APPLETON said...

What absolute boobs these mortals be... why let a marquee name, a legendary brand go? Let the nameless editors and by-liners go. I hear Broadway producers, a nice source of ad income for this bumbling paper, are rather up in arms over this senseless dismissal. Not to mention Mr. LeSourd's scores of reader/fans, who have been reading his critical gems for 35 years. This paper has been hanging itself slowly for years- and now this? Jacques should have been THE LAST ONE out the door, behind most of the idiots who are still bumbling their way around that sinking ship. In short, gentlemen-- you are assholes!!

Lolagirl said...

I agree, what a loss to the New York Theatre. It seems as though the Gannett people are desperately trying to save their sinking ship, but throwing le Sourd overboard will only cause them to sink deeper. Jacques really is an incredibly talented writer, with an ascerbic wit and a gift for turning a phrase. I hope he finds some place new to land, it would be a real loss of journalistic talent if he does not.