They'll fill the spots vacated by Lisa Schwarzbaum and Ken Tucker
Some familiar faces at Entertainment Weekly are getting new roles at the magazine.
Jeff Jensen and Melissa Maerz are officially the TV critics, while Chris Nashawaty is Entertainment Weekly's newest film critic, managing editor Jess Cagle announced Monday in an internal memo.
Jensen is probably best known to EW readers as Doc Jensen, writer of wildly popular Lost recaps. Even Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof was a fan, and tapped Jensen to co-write and executive produce Tomorrowland, starring George Clooney.
His co-critic, Melissa Maerz, has been with the magazine just two years, but was at New York magazine, Rolling Stone and the Los Angeles Times before that.
Chris Nashawaty has been at EW for two decades. His book about Roger Corman, "Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses: Roger Corman, King of the B-Movie," will come out next month.
The move comes after some recent major shake-ups in EW's criticism department. Longtime film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum left EW in February; television critic Ken Tucker's departure followed a week later. Between them, they had 46 years with the magazine.
CapeTown blogger Geoff Boucher is also set to leave EW, though his tenure was much shorter — less than a year after he was hired off the success of his Los Angeles Times "Hero Complex" blog.
Here's the full memo:
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating Entertainment Weekly’s new film and TV critics. Chris Nashawaty brings his good humor and deep knowledge to our movie reviews alongside, of course, Owen Gleiberman; our TV reviews, meanwhile, are now in the very capable and talented hands of Jeff Jensen and Melissa Maerz. All of them will play a key role for the magazine, our site, our tablet edition, and a ton of brand extensions. Here’s all the buzz on our three new critics:
CHRIS NASHAWATY is celebrating 20 years at Entertainment Weekly. During that time he has become one of the most recognizable and respected writers in our industry. He specializes in the rougher edges of pop culture, and is working on a coffee table book about Roger Corman, which started out as a story Chris pitched and wrote for EW. He made Mickey Rourke cry during an interview a few years ago—and the resulting profile is a shining example of the many vivid, unforgettable features Chris has written over the years. (On Rourke: “Tonight, he's dressed in skintight black jeans, a pair of handmade denim cowboy boots that look like they cost a fortune, and a black vest with nothing on underneath. His chest is tanned and muscular and hairless. There's a tattoo of a fleur-de-lis right below his pecs.”) Chris also has a deep respect for filmmakers and excellent taste in movies—which has helped him revitalize our DVD & Streaming section and endeared him to our audience and the industry we cover. Chris knows his stuff, and I’m deeply grateful to have another critic with such wisdom and passion.
To be fair, JEFF “DOC” JENSEN has been acting as a TV critic for much of his 15-year tenure at EW. After all, his beloved “Lost” recaps on EW.com were essentially a brilliant PhD course in everything from quantum physics to religion to mortality—and at some point a guy named Philip Jose Farmer. Since “Lost” ended, Jeff has brought his intelligence, curiosity and wit to everything from the end of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy to the Kardashians to “Arrow”. ("It's the morning after election day, and pop culture's newly anointed superhero is in the gym battling an evil more daunting than any supervillian: man boobs.") Along the way, he broke news of the upcoming “Veronica Mars” movie, served as one of our resident video game experts, and along with co-conspirator Darren Franich has produced the popular Entertainment Geekly podcast. As a TV critic, he will enrich EW on print and digital platforms with writing as surprising as it is smart. His remarkable talent will also be on display in the upcoming sci-fi film “Tomorrowland,” starring George Clooney. Jeff co-wrote the movie with Damon Lindelof and director Brad Bird, and serves as executive producer.
During her two years at Entertainment Weekly, MELISSA MAERZ has written 429 articles, spanning every medium imaginable. She's gone dog shopping with Lena Dunham, watched Louis C.K. get punched in the gut, and spent hours in Adam Levine's bacchanalian bachelor pad and somehow emerged unscathed. But Melissa's biggest contributions to the magazine and site have been her trend-spotting (she penned early articles on "The Great Folk-Rock Revival" and the "Revenge of the Teenaged Girl") and her ability to beautifully convey intelligent, pithy commentary on pretty much any subject. Take, for example, FX's “The Bridge”: "The culture wars are so rich here that it's hard to imagine what issues the Swedish/Danish version explored. What could two relatively similar Scandinavian countries have to fight about? Whether Brigitte Nielsen is more famous than the Swedish Chef?" Or her view on Taylor Swift's latest album: "The writer James Dickey once described a poet as ‘someone who stands outside in the rain, hoping to be struck by lightning.’ He could've been talking about Taylor Swift." We are lucky to have Melissa curate the turbulent and increasingly exciting world of TV.
The shoes of our former critics Ken Tucker and Lisa Schwarzbaum are enormous, extraordinary and daunting shoes to fill. But Chris and Jeff and Melissa are among the finest, sharpest writers I have ever had the pleasure of working with. I look forward to seeing them carry this amazing, singular brand into the future.
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