Interviews

Veteran Journalist: Best Talent Going to TV

Being ahead of the curve comes naturally to Thompson. It also means she’s still working while many of her peers struggle in the changing journalism landscape.

Riskybiz, created against her bosses’ wishes, eventually drew the attention of Variety editors. Later, Indiewire.com wanted Thompson’s Hollywood blog, too.

That’s where she covers entertainment news today, interviewing A-list stars and keeping readers abreast of the latest Hollywood news.

And she’s still rolling with the tech changes.

New Gig … Same Mission

She recently became Indiewire.com’s Editor at Large, leaving her long-running Thompson on Hollywood blog but bringing some of its writers along with her.

Penske Media, which owns Deadline.com and GoldDerby.com, acquired Indiewire in January. The company is looking to expand the latter, which led to Thompson’s promotion.

“I’m actually getting a big kick out of the transition I’m making now,” Thompson says. “I enjoyed running ‘Thompson on Hollywood’ for six years. You have the sense where the zeitgeist is.”

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Now, she’s working with a cyber team to cover breaking news, “longer think pieces” and everything in between.

“I used to do the same thing on a small scale,” she adds.

Working with Indiewire.com offers her a luxury some entertainment writers lack. She doesn’t have to serve up tabloid fare or click-bait headlines.

Her audience doesn’t expect it. Nor do they want it.

“We’re aiming at a very smart, cinephile and television-loving audience. Very sharp people,” she says. “That doesn’t mean there isn’t a responsibility to deliver traffic.”

The key? Recommending, curating and sharing content that engages the reader, she says.

Decades in the Showbiz Trenches

Thompson’s impressive career includes serving as Premiere magazine’s west coast editor, a senior writer at Entertainment Weekly and freelance contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair and The Guardian.

For more than two decades she’s interviewed the stars who grace screens big and small. That experience taught her how to get the best of the so-called “celebrity interview.”

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“Actors really appreciate the opportunity to talk seriously about what they take seriously,” she says. Some stars, though, won’t instantly open up to the exchange. Others arrive in “promo mode,” ready to talk robotically about their new project.

“That’s the killer,” she says.

Thompson says the movies haven’t changed in quality since she first started covering film. What’s increasingly rare today, though, are movies that give actors meaty roles.

“The industry economics are driving certain kinds of films to be made,” she says. That means more “Furious” sequels, less intimate dramas.

FAST FACT: Thompson was one of several guest critics for “Ebert & Roper” while Roger Ebert was recovering from an illness.

Will future audiences experience movies like “Bound” or “Insomnia” in theaters, she asks. Those stories may be reserved for the indie film level. That modestly budgeted stratum operates like baseball’s minor leagues.

“It’s insane the way they’re taking young indie talent and throwing them at franchises,” she says, witness “Cop Car” director Jon Watts’ gig directing the “Spider-Man” reboot. “Sometimes they make horrible movies. Sometime they make good ones. It’s like a farm system [for Hollywood blockbusters].”

That’s bad news for film but a creative opening for television.

“The movie business is getting starved. The best talent is going to TV,” she says.

Thompson vows she doesn’t let ideology interrupt her Hollywood reporting. Some entertainment outlets lean left, either purposefully or by default. She says she takes a different approach.

“I steer clear of politics,” she says. “If Michael Moore does something newsworthy I’ll cover it. If a religious movie does really well, I’ll report that success.”

You can follow Thompson on Twitter via @akstanwyck

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photo credit: watching the bokeh channel via photopin (license)

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