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Today in My History

2001:  Cherish the Children
2002:  Something Funny...Freezing...Fishy
2003:  Keep Coming Back, It Works
2004:  Indians and Chiefs
Give Me a Sign
2006:  Fool Me Once
2007:   Day #1
2008:  Turning 70 in Style
2009:  Sushi Night
2010:  Mean, Nasty Me
2011:  Conversations with Sheila

Another Milestone Birthday
2013: Lunch #2
2014:  You Can't Live Without It

Laid Back
2016: Today at Logos

2017: Sunday Stealing
2018:  Collision

Theater Reviews
Updated 1/28

Books Read in 2020
 Updated 1/9
"Dear Edward"

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Books Read in 2020
Books Read in 2019
Books Read in 2018

Books Read in 2017
Books Read in 2016
Books Read in 2015
Books Read in 2014
Books Read in 2013

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Books Read in 2010

updated 7/16

(you know how to fix it)

Some Background Links:
The Philosophy of Juice & Crackers
The story of Delicate Pooh
The story of the Piņata Group
Pumpkin pies
Who IS this Gilbert person anyway?

mail to Walt / mail to Bev  


January 29, 2020

I am no longer writing reviews for two newspapers, and it's all Donald Trump's fault.

I have been a critic for the Davis Enterprise for more than 20 years and began writing for the Sacramento News and Review (SNR) about 3 years ago.

There have been four of us who write for SNR.  I write for them and for the Enterprise, one other writes for SNR and Capital Public Radio and a third one writes for SNR and another small Sacramento paper.

I have written about 200 reviews for SNR and with very few exceptions every one of those shows are also shows for which I also wrote a review for The Enterprise.

It was a good gig.  Enterprise reviews are 500-700 words long and I get $20 for each review.  SNR reviews are 200-300 words long and I get $40 for each. 

I have worked hard to make each review "different."  Obviously the opinion is the same, but I try to make sure that each review is unique.  If I say something devastatingly clever in one review, I might repeat that sentence or two in the other, but otherwise, they are as different as I can make them.

In my time with SNR, we have had about four different editors for Arts and the current editor is actually changing things.  The paper is becoming more "relevant," I guess and this editor has stayed the longest and we are now more organized than we have been when we were kind of on our own.

I recently reviewed a show that I found a disappointment.  It was good, the actors were great, but overall it was not what I expected and I had to work hard to figure out how I wanted to review it.  I got the SNR review written, and had to write a longer review for the Enterprise, but I got hooked on watching the impeachment hearing.  It was difficult to write with that in the background and after 2 days I decided, "screw it" and just took the SNR review and expanded it for the Enterprise.  But it was essentially the SNR review.

So I got a note from the editor about a letter she had received from someone from that theater:  He pointed out that you had reviewed the show for both us and Davis Enterprise. I just wanted to send a reminder that we don't allow a reviewer to cover the same show for more than one publication.  So if there's an agreement that a reviewer will cover a show for SN&R, that review needs to be exclusive to our publication. No reprints, and no alternative versions that are worded differently.

She said she was happy with what I've been doing, but I have to sign an exclusivity contract which says that I can't write reviews for two newspapers and that was followed by a letter to all the SNR reviewers that we need to sign an exclusivity contract.  She says I would need to juggle the shows, some for Enterprise, some for SNR.  But I am the only Enterprise critic and if I don't review a show, it doesn't get reviewed in Davis.

The SNR money is better, but my heart is with the Enterprise and I told her I would have to stop writing reviews.

And I will never review that theater again.  In my years critic-ing, I have had three or four unpleasant experiences.  Before I started reviewing this particular theater, I was doing a feature story for the Enterprise about a local actor and was contacting all the theaters in Sacramento for which he had performed.  I talked with the head of this theater who asked why there was never an Enterprise review of his theater.  I explained that the editor at that time, because of space restrictions, only let me review theaters which had some sort of tie to Davis.  The guy got very huffy and said "So you want ME to help you write your article?  No thank you" and hung up on me.  That meant that I didn't mention his theater in my article.

I eventually started reviewing the shows because people in Davis wanted me to.  Then we got a message from the head of the theater that he wanted to meet with the SNR reviewers because he was unhappy with our reviews (we weren't giving him positive enough reviews).  One of the reviewers said she was happy to meet with him, but not at his office, at the SNR office along with our editor.  He didn't ask about it again, but invited us several times to come to a special "critic meeting" where they would give us food and drink and talk about reviews.  We didn't fall for that.

And now there is this guy who feels that I should not put reviews for the same shows in two papers. 

For many years, I worked publicity for every theater group in Davis and my philosophy is that publicity is publicity and wherever you can get your company's name in print is good.  One paper is in Sacramento, the other is in Davis.  Two different audiences.

But the Enterprise said recently that they don't want as many reviews because space is limited these days and it's up to me which theaters I review.  I will not review this one again because it's not worth it, and quite frankly, their shows aren't nearly as good as the other companies in Sacramento.  They have some great "regular" actors whom I will miss, but I hope they will also audition for some of the other theaters in town.

But if Trump weren't being impeached, probably nobody would have even noticed, so I blame Trump for all of this!


7 years ago

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