05 March 2007

"Premiere"'s Surprise Curtain Call

Some surprising--and depressing--news: "Premiere", the monthly film magazine, will fold after its April 2007 issue. I've been reading it since its debut (I think Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd in "Dragnet" were on the cover) back in 1987, and while I felt it too often focused on drab middlebrow fare ala 'The Doctor", "Regarding Henry", and "Steel Magnolias", it was always a worthy read--to movies what "Rolling Stone" was to music. I'll never forget their wonderful article on storyboard artists back in July of 1989 (Michael Keaton, debuting as "Batman", made the cover)--I was just starting my own topsy-turvy career as a freelance storyboard illustrator/graphic artist and it was a huge inspiration for me (I still have two copies, in plastic).

Although "Premiere" originated as a French glossy in the 1970s (still publishing), the NA version fixed its focus unapologetically on Hollywood and the more accessible avenues of the "indie" circuit and found the right balance, I thought.

Published by New York-based Hachette Filipacchi Media, "Premiere" offered the standard publicist-approved interviews,, gossip, and filmmaker profiles, and reviews, some serious, some not so much (the observations of Libby Gelman-Waxner, in actually screenwriter Paul Rudnick, were a highlight). It rarely courted controversy, save for a 2001 piece that suggested incidents of sexual harrassment on the part of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who at the time was preparing his campaign to oust Gray Davis.

I suppose Premiere's demise is indicative of how entertainment reportage has changed since the heyday of Army Archard and Rona Barrett. These days, we can readily access film news and reviews on any number of fan-generated message boards, chart the course of a film's production on the director's own myspace page (Eli Roth, Rob Zombie), and glimpse onset photos taken by camera-phone wielding onlookers at Flicker. So it's not such a scoop when a magazine like Premiere offers an "exclusive first look" at the latest live-action superhero incarnation when the web's had it up for weeks.

"Movieline" folded (oh, how I miss you, Joe Queenan), "Film Threat" went online, and Cinefantastique became "CFQ" and a Starlog retread after its founder Frederick S. Clark passed awy. These days, only the UK's "Sight And Sound" and Tim Lucas' "Video Watchdog" are keeping quality print film journalism alive--sorry devotees of "Cahier Du Cinema" and "CineAction", but I'm not interested in another Marxist Godard appreciation or a semiotic analysis of the ouevre of Theo Angelopoulos.

UPDATE: Good news! I just read on GreenCine Daily that Premiere will continue as an online publication.