The news that L.A.'s City Beat is folding leaves the prospect of the former L.A. Times arts reporter and City Beat theater columnist/critic Don Shirley without gainful employment — temporarily I hope.

It also mutes the opinions of one of L.A. theater's most tenacious, fastidious and hard-working supporters. Don and I frequently have philosophical and aesthetic differences, and the city has benefited from that discourse. (The word “conversation” has now been beaten into a platitude from overuse, from two many laments for too many disappearing arts critics.)

As Don noted on the L.A. Times' arts blog,  what can be said has been said — and said recently — about the symbiosis between arts criticism and an arts community.

It was said when Village Voice Media eliminated the theater editor position at the L.A. Weekly, coinciding with the laying off of arts writers and critics at The Daily Breeze, the L.A. Daily News and Variety.  

Through the intervening weeks, local management has been responsive to the community upset over the decision at the Weekly, which is among the reasons I'm still so involved with the paper, still writing this blog and helping to organizing the paper's theater awards. The larger issue is the crumbling of media pillars and the, as yet, unanswerable questions of what online form journalism will take, in order to maintain professionalism, the credibility of a divide between advertising and editorial, and financing for what's really a life-support system for the arts, and for an open society.

My respect for Don Shirley is enormous, and I suspect that neither he, nor journalism itself, are going away.

FOR THE LATEST UPDATES ON THE L.A. WEEKLY THEATER AWARDS, and the coming weekend's NEW THEATER REVIEWS, press the Continue Reading tab directly below.


Gwendolyn with satirist/internet show host Chris Leavins. Photo by Jennifer Miller

Gwendolyn the chicken has agreed to put in an appearance at the 30th annual L.A. Weekly Theater Awards.


were testy. Her agent, Boris Splodnick of CAA was game, since

Gwendolyn  has nothing better to do on Monday nights than hang out on

the farm and watch reruns of Mr. Ed and Green Acres, but

her personal manager, Darlene Wiggins, was is a fowl mood, concerned

that her client should be better paid. “She's not doing this for

chicken scratch,” said Wiggins. As it turns out, that's exactly what

she's doing it for.

Gwendolyn will be joined by co-hosts,

Vanessa Claire Smith and Jake Broder, Luke Perry, Haaz Sleiman, Zev

Yaroslavsky, Gil Cates, Barbara Beckley, Michael Ritchie, Terence

McFarland, Jacob Sidney, Jaime Andrews, Erin Matthews, Nick Cagle,

Michael Holmes, Kristen Vangess, Scott Leggett, Michael Lanahan, Eric

Johnson, Jerry Lewis, Don Rickles, Dean Martin, Don Knotts, John F.

Kennedy and his charming wife Jackie, Marilyn Monroe, Peter Lawford and


To learn what shows are being reviewed this weekend, press the “Continue Reading” tab directly below.


Michael Sargent's new play The Projectionist at the Kirk Douglas Theatre; Jonathan Kolvenbach's new play, Goldfish, at South Coast Repertory; Murray Mednick's Clown Show for Bruno at Art Share; Dario Fo's The Devil With Boobs, presented by Open Fist Theatre Company, Burglars of Hamm is back with Land of the Tigers, at Sacred Fools Theater; Little Women (The Musical) at the Lyric Theatre; Larry Dean Harris' Prodigal Father, presented by and at Celebration Theatre, in associated with Playwrights 6; Amy: John W. Lowell's The Letters presented by the Andak Company, and Zombie Joe Underground's Captain Dan Dixon vs. The Moth Sluts from the Fifth Dimension 

LA Weekly