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“Do NOT write for Arianna Huffington or AOL!”

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Cinematical deserves an Irish wake, the kind of rowdy, drunken, affectionate affair held on “The Wire” when one of Baltimore’s finest fell. The deceased would be laid out on the pool table of a dive bar while surviving officers drank, sang along to The Pogues, and solemnly honored the passing of a departed colleague.

Such a “celebration” won’t happen. Partially because the people who would gather to mourn the movie Web site’s passing are scattered around the globe, so meeting in one watering hole would be logistically impossible. (Is there an app for this?)

And then there’s the fact that Cinematical isn’t dead, technically speaking. The site, once an independent source of movie news and analysis, still operates under AOL and Moviefone’s umbrella. But anyone who has followed the not-so-behind-the-scenes developments at the once-respected site know that Cinematical’s brain trust has left the building, and they took the site’s soul with them.

“I don’t have any bad blood,” Weinberg said. “I don’t wish anyone any harm. Everybody is healthy, and will move on to better things. I’m just a little sad that we had a really cool thing for a little while, but like all things, things change.”

And good ideas have a tendency to resurface.

Former Cinematical writer Kim Voynar, who has covered the site’s downfall, writes, “If Jason Calacanis put the money into starting a new version of Cinematical tomorrow (he’d have to call it something else, because those assholes at AOL would likely not give him the name back even when they kill the brand off entirely), I suspect many of the Cinematical editors who’ve resigned recently and writers who just got canned would join him in a heartbeat to bring back the site its many loyal readers once loved.”

Davis echoes the sentiment, telling me, “My insane brain is overflowing with ideas. So, soon enough I’ll land somewhere else (hopefully with most or all of my Cinematical writers) and we’ll do some damage. Until then …”

Well, until then, Voynar pleads for Internet writers (and readers) to send a message to Huffington that she cannot continue to exploit her content providers.

“Writers, I implore you, do NOT write for Arianna Huffington or AOL, whether you are paid or not,” she writes. “AOL is a destroyer. Its MO is to buy the competition and, ultimately, obliterate it. The sole focus of the higher ups is traffic, and when you aim for a wide scattershot with a web site, your writing inevitably dilutes accordingly to meet a lower watermark.

“Readers, I implore you, boycott AOL/HuffPo,” Voynar continues. “Don’t give them traffic by reading their content. Don’t give them traffic by linking to their content. BOYCOTT, BOYCOTT, BOYCOTT.”

To read part one, the beginning of the end of Cinematical, click here.

To read part two, detailing what went wrong at Cinematical, click here.

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Photo courtesy of PRPhotos.com.

About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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One Comment

  • April 7, 2011 | Permalink |

    Join forces with the Newspaper Guild’s electronic picket line of HuffPo and the Facebook effort “Hey Arianna, Can You Spare A Dime.”

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