Schadenfreude alert: As someone who cares at least a little bit about keeping film criticism separate from unapologetic Hollywood whoring, I can't help but find some small measure of delight in the fall of Paul Fischer.
The Internets were abuzz this week with the story that Paul Fischer -- a freelance writer for sites like Dark Horizons and Moviehole -- had been caught by the Vancouver Sun (and later by the Tribune's Sean P. Means) blatantly plagiarizing huge chunks of several Sundance reviews from the descriptions in the festival film guide. This was only the most obviously unethical example of a long career spent junketeering and cheerleading for dire Hollywood crap in breathless superlatives.
Today came word that Fischer was "retiring" from the junket circuit. I've briefly encountered Fischer over the years at Sundance, and heard anecdotal stories from several other film journalists who had seen his behavior at other festivals, conventions and press junkets. And apparently it couldn't have happened to a surlier, more unpleasant and self-important guy. But the reality is that hack entertainment journalists are like Hydra heads, always another dozen willing to sell their souls for the chance to sit at a table with Jessica Alba for 20 minutes and provide an easy-to-digest marketing blurb. It's up to the movie-going public to learn the stories behind the names under the exclamation points.