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Variety Editor's Letter Over Review Angers Employees

June 11, 1992|ROBERT W. WELKOS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Employees at Daily Variety expressed outrage Wednesday after their editor sent a letter to the chairman of Paramount Communications criticizing a negative review of Paramount Pictures' summer hit "Patriot Games" that appeared in the entertainment newspaper.

In a letter to Martin Davis, also Paramount Communications' chief executive, editor Peter Bart said the review "was, to put it in a word, unprofessional."

Bart indicated that film critic Joseph McBride will not review any more Paramount films.

McBride, meanwhile, replied that he was bothered by Bart's implication that his Irish-American ethnicity would preclude him from reviewing certain movies.

Bart, who previously worked at Paramount, agreed he was critical of the political opinions contained in the review but, in an interview Wednesday, denied that his letter to Davis should be construed by his staff as an apology.

"I've known Martin Davis since 1966. I would describe the letter as a bit of friendly jousting," he said, declining to elaborate.

"Patriot Games," based on Tom Clancy's best-selling novel, centers on a CIA analyst named Jack Ryan, played by actor Harrison Ford, who is targeted by an Irish Republican Army splinter group after he foils an attack on British royalty.

In the review, published June 3, McBride called the film "fascistic" and "anti-Irish."

McBride said in statement: "I am bothered by Peter Bart's statement to me that I should not have reviewed 'Patriot Games' because I am an Irish-American. . . . Would a Jewish reviewer not be allowed to review a film about the Holocaust? Or would an African-American reviewer not be allowed to review a film about slavery?"

Some Variety employees were infuriated at Bart's critique. "I am totally disgusted," one reporter said. "Everybody here is gagging."

However, some reporters and editors said they were embarrassed that McBride's political opinions were in the review.

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