Thursday, July 13, 2006

Who wrote that?

John Heilpern in the New York Observer talks about the practice of pull-quoting:

I’m told I’m usually such a miserable sod that favorable quotes from my reviews can be slim pickings. But even when I rave about a show, there’s room for improvement. For instance, I wrote in my review of Mr. McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore, which swims in more blood than the Jacobeans, that it was “the best bloody play I’ve ever seen.” In the Times ad, however, the “bloody” was dropped and the quote became “The best play I’ve ever
seen.”

Well, if it helps …. But a friend of mine, who’s a playwright, called me up to complain that he thought he was the one who’d
written the best play I’ve ever seen. So I got on to the press representatives of the show and said, “Hello, it’s me. Sorry to trouble you, but The Lieutenant of Inishmore" isn’t the best play I’ve ever seen. That singular honor belongs to a friend of mine and to something called Lear. Why, The Lieutenant of Inishmore isn’t even Martin McDonagh’s best play.”

So they put back the “bloody.”

But a more recent example takes the strudel. In the Times blurb for the British import of Henry Green’s
Nothing, the quote from my review was published proudly above the title as: “I’ve rarely had such a good time at the theater—John Heilpern, New York Observer.”

In fact, I wrote, “I’ve rarely had such a good time at the theater without enjoying myself.”

Still, I found the rewrite of my politely downbeat review so funny, I couldn’t bring myself to protest. I hope you weren’t misled by the ad that deserves an award for chutzpah.

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