Variety Accused Of Making Bad Reviews Disappear, For A Price

By Perri Nemiroff 2010-02-27 17:11:56discussion comments
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What’s Variety’s take on Joshua Newton’s film Iron Cross? It seems we’re not supposed to know because according to Variety, the review doesn’t exist. Apparently the film’s producers didn’t appreciate Robert Koehler’s opinion and it was removed from the site. Thanks to Google cache, you can still access Koehler’s thoughts and see for yourself why his negative take on the film may not have gelled with a certain financial arrangement.

Back in December, the LA Times reported that the producers of Iron Cross dropped a whopping $400,000 to have Variety run an ad for the film “every day until Oscar voters have turned in their ballots in late January.” The deal also included booking the film into Variety’s screening series, which would include Q&As with both Newton and his son Alexander who has a role in the film. Gawker points out that these screenings are normally reserved for “actual Oscar contenders” whereas Iron Cross is a “tiny film by [a] relatively unknown director.” The one thing that makes Iron Cross notable, and unfortunately so, is that its lead actor, Roy Scheider, passed away while making it. He plays an NYPD cop who struggles with terrible memories from the Holocaust. He’s haunted by the faces of the commander and private responsible for the death of his family and sets out to seek revenge.

Gawker attempted to get in touch with Brian Gott, the Variety publisher who ordered the review to be removed, and he responded, "Unfortunately Variety does not comment on internal matters. I hope you understand." Efforts to reach out to the film’s producers went unanswered, but Gawker did manage to get a hold of an e-mail Newton wrote to an anonymous tipster. Newton rambles on about how Koehler isn’t a staff writer and that by not attending Variety’s official screening and going to see it at a public theater, his actions were conniving and he “managed to sneak [the review] into the publication.” He also points out that other viewers did not share his sentiments and if Koehler “bothered to check with his colleagues or get Production Notes from our publicists” he would have had a better understanding of the material.

Is he going to cry about it next? Assuming Gawker's information is factual, it seems like money has won out over integrity. Yes, $400,000 is a lot of cash to be messing around with, but a film review should have nothing to do with an advertising campaign. As for Newton’s opinions on Koehler’s methods, I don’t see what’s so terrible about opting out of an industry screening and not grabbing the press notes. Average moviegoers don’t have these luxuries. Perhaps the disappointment of not getting the Oscar nom is obscuring Newton’s better judgment. In the end, this whole plan to conceal the negative review will just garner it more attention. Sorry Iron Cross, you lose. Twice.
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