Stephen King on the ''art'' of the blurb |


Stephen King on the ''art'' of the blurb

It's too often abused, but EW's pop-culture columnist wonders if a shout-out sound bite could be a better way to point pop-culture lovers to the good stuff than long reviews

Halle Berry, Catwoman

(Everett Collection)

Stephen King on the ”art” of the blurb

I wanted to write a column on Jumper for this magazine, because I really liked it. The critics didn’t, but since I’m not one, that didn’t bother me. But one of the executive producers, Ralph Vicinanza, also happens to be my foreign-rights agent. This, I thought, was a concern my EW editor should address. Said editor mulled it over (that’s why editors get the big bucks; it’s called mulling pay) and told me my concerns were valid. He felt the relationship was too close. So I blurbed it instead. Maybe you saw it in your local paper: ”’This Movie Rocks!’ — Stephen King.”

The kind of favoritism my editor worried about is sometimes known as logrolling, and I’ve done it a couple of times in my career, but only a couple, and never without a feeling of shame. One of my favorite movie reviewers, The Filthy Critic (I urge you, urge you, urge you to check him out at least once a month), has a running feature called ”Quote Whore of the Week,” and I think of it every time some friend (or friend of a friend) urges me to blurb a movie, book, or TV show.

One of Filthy’s recent examples was from everybody’s favorite compulsive blurbmeister, Earl Dittman. ”Penelope,” Dittman raves, is ”Enchanting, charming, and hilarious!” He finishes by calling this film ”simply irresistible!” I felt an urge to e-mail Earl and tell him no, ”Simply Irresistible” is a Robert Palmer song, but I took two aspirin and the urge passed.

Dittman is a film critic for Wireless magazine…but there seems to be some doubt about whether or not Wireless actually exists (I find this hilarious, but my sense of humor is, admittedly, a little off-center). It’s supposedly been available as a free handout in movie theaters nationwide, but I have never seen it, and I go to the movies a lot. Other Dittman gems include ”An eye-popping, action-packed masterpiece” (The Adventures of SharkBoy and LavaGirl in 3-D), ”You’ll howl with laughter” (Scooby-Doo), and ”100% pure fun and excitement!” (Catwoman).

Dittman isn’t alone in his hyperbolic ecstasies, as any dedicated reader of the newspaper movie pages knows. There’s Pete Hammond, who used to write for Maxim (he has since parted company with that highly regarded bastion of American thought) and who in 2007 won something called the Michael Medved Bag of Douche Memorial Award. And there’s Larry King, who says he won’t rap films he doesn’t like, but who projectile-vomits praise upon the many he does (the King of Talk called De-Lovely ”Far and away the best musical biography ever made”…which suggests to me he might have missed James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy).