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December 29, 2008

Beating up Ben Lyons

79120342 The guy's a tool, a real doofus. An ignoramus, even. Everybody thinks so.

Get a load of some of the criticism, and boy, we're using that term loosely, spewing forth from journalists, bloggers and other media types in an L.A. Times hatchet job mighty unflattering profile on Ben Lyons, half of the new-ish hosting team on what was once the venerable syndicated TV show, "At the Movies." (The revered Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, then Richard Roeper, used to occupy the space).

Here's Lyons, subjected to some blunt force trauma:

"His integrity's out the window. He has no taste."

"He seems to be doing the show more because he wants to be on TV than because he has something to say about the movies."

"His approach is to throw out blurbs just so he can get on a poster."

As opposed to many stories that attack their subject -- surprised that Lyons declined to be interviewed? -- all the haters are named, right beside their soul-withering quotes in the story that ran prominently on the front of Sunday's Calendar section. Nothing anonymous here, which just proves the point that journalists often save their most venomous attacks for those they identify as poseurs, especially those who would try to muscle in on the Fourth Estate.

Not that Lyons didn't have it coming, trotting out his sophomoric reviews, quote whoring and star chasing at a time when the country's seasoned film critics at major publications are losing their jobs at a record pace. Credentials? Who needs 'em!

Just sour grapes because he has a cushy, high-profile job? 

Decide for yourself -- ratings have fallen double digits since Lyons and the less offensive Ben Mankiewicz took over -- but don't say we didn't warn you that it'll be a sound bite-y waste of a half hour. Or go here for some excruciating dissection of Lyons' film critiquing "chops."


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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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