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In fact, L.A.-phobia became the sticking point with nearly all of the candidates sought by the Los Angeles Times, something the editors hadn’t anticipated. Embarrassingly, LAT TV editor Taylor had to camp out at the July meeting of the Television Critics’ Association and take candidates like Tim Goodman, the San Francisco Chronicle’s TV critic, for a secret drink at weary Hollywood watering hole Musso & Frank just down the street from where the critics were staying. With Goodman, too, Taylor warned, “We want to make sure you’re interested” before proceeding further. Even so, the real nonstarter for Goodman, besides loyalty to his own paper, was just the idea of uprooting his family for Los Angeles. Still, because of LAT interest, Chronicle executive editor Phil Bronstein quickly “took great care of me,” Goodman notes. “I think the L.A. Times is making everyone rich.”
The same thing happened to Lisa de Moraes, TV columnist for the Washington Post who also received an LAT offer and also didn’t want to move to Los Angeles. Her colleague, music columnist David Segal, and Time magazine’s Poniewozik also rebuffed Los Angeles. “The upshot was that it was an attractive job in theory,” Poniewozik recalls, “but I didn’t want to move to L.A.”
Waxman’s journey to Hollywood has been roundabout. With a B.A. in English literature from Barnard, a master’s in philosophy from Oxford’s St. Antony’s College and fluency in French, Hebrew and Arabic, Waxman snagged an internship on the Washington Post foreign desk. She moved to Reuters as a Jerusalem correspondent and later became a freelancer in Paris. In November 1995, Waxman came to L.A. with a full-time contract to cover entertainment for the Post, the first time that Style created such a job. Eventually, she was made a Post staffer. Since 9/11, the newspaper has sent Waxman to the Middle East several times, including a stint in postwar Iraq.
As for Hollywood coverage, Waxman could be characterized as a fair but tough reporter in an industry notorious for co-opting and manipulating journalists. To her credit, she’s not known for being in the pocket of any particular Hollywood studio or executive. On the other hand, she is seen as weak in her knowledge of the business side of entertainment.
Some of Waxman’s work for the Post has been generic Hollywood writing and reporting, one article indistinguishable from another. But in 2000 she won the Penney Award, the highest prize in feature writing, and was nominated in 1999 for a Pulitzer Prize. One of Waxman’s first stories to gain attention was an in-depth look at the Golden Globes. While the article covered old ground, it did unearth new controversies and led to changes within the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
She also has held her own in the various causes célebrès that occasionally roust the entertainment business. She has written tough stuff about Motion Picture Association of America honcho Jack Valenti, West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin and Miramax chieftain Harvey Weinstein. During the Beautiful Mind Oscar brouhaha, not only did Miramax target her but other journalists attacked her facts and point of view.
A year ago, Waxman secured a book contract from William Morrow to write about Hollywood’s so-called rebel directors, including Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, David O. Russell, Paul Thomas Anderson and David Fincher.
Chocano, a 1990 Northwestern graduate with a B.A. in comparative literature, already has two books under her belt: She wrote Do You Love Me or Am I Just Paranoid?, billed as amusing relationship advice for the perpetually entangled, and contributed to an anthology of humor pieces, More Mirth of a Nation. She also made a short film, Samuel Beckett Orders Out, which was screened at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival and elsewhere.
Robert Lloyd, the former L.A. Weekly TV critic who recently joined the Times, will continue on the beat.
Given Chocano’s clips, Hollywood immediately began to ask if she’s Rosenberg lite. The point is that, after primarily making fun of The Bachelor and Survivor,she has yet to show the necessary chops to push hot-button issues, which Rosenberg did so ably. The new gig may have made Chocano richer, but will L.A. Times readers be poorer for it?
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This is an update containing corrections of the previously published version which reported that Chocano was a freelancer at Salon, where she was in fact a staffer, and that Chocano had written two books when in fact she had written one and contributed to another.