The Great Film Critic Euthanizing of 2008 continued over the weekend with its highest-profile casualty yet: David Ansen, the highly respected 30-year veteran at Newsweek, joined 110 colleagues in accepting a buyout that Variety's Anne Thompson reports included "a sweetened pension, health coverage until age 65, and two years' salary." Plus he keeps a contributing editor title at the magazine, chipping in occasionally with reviews, features and whatever else Newsweek's fast-shrinking newshole can accommodate starting in 2009.
Amid firings, buyouts and retirements at dailies and weeklies around the country, Ansen is the first critic from a national publication to land in the execution chamber. But to hear him tell it, the afterlife could be a good thing:
"It was a good deal," he said. "They didn't want me to leave, which put me in a nice bargaining position. They may have been shocked at how many people took the offer." ...
Ansen looks forward to writing books, teaching, and "not going out to screenings every night," he said. "I want to watch DVDs of movies I might actually like and read a book or two. Face it, a lot of movies are not that interesting to write about these days."
We sympathize with Ansen over his grueling life of film criticism, and indeed, his unwavering spirit of inquisitiveness and imagination will be sorely missed once he winds things down at the end of the year. We don't know how he lasted as long as he did, especially through the lackluster cinematic crop that was 2007; God knows we would have given up on this racket a long time ago.