‘The best Marketplace segment ever!’

Scott Jagow Apr 27, 2007


SCOTT JAGOW: Advertisements for movies and plays usually have quotes from critics. “Brilliant!””Funny!””Terrific!” As you probably know, sometimes, those quotes are taken out of context. “This could’ve have been a brilliant, funny film, but it’s actually a terrific disaster.” Well, in Europe, a new law will ban that kind of thing. Dominic Maxwell is a theater critic with the Times of London. Dominic, I understand you’ve had some personal experience being misquoted?

DOMINIC MAXWELL: I think the most extreme example that ever happened to me, I reviewed the stage musical version of Saturday Night Fever, and my closing line was, “If it’s an all-out retro-romp you want, this only fitfully delivers,” which was really quite generous. Well they then compressed it to, “An all-out retro-romp!” which is more or less exactly what I was saying it wasn’t.

JAGOW: Exactly. Now is this something that you and your fellow theater critics talk about a lot? Is it something that enrages you?

MAXWELL: It’s a tricky one. I mean it’s the customer, the theatergoer who suffers really, but it’s, you know if you’re a critic, the only thing you’ve really got going for yourself is your integrity, is the fact that whatever else happens, you say what you mean and that gets represented fairly. And if you’re saying something’s rubbish and that’s changed by the way it’s presented, making it look like you’re saying it’s exciting or hilarious, then actually that damages the trust from the theatergoer in the critic and really that’s quite corrosive in the long-term.

JAGOW: Now what would this European law do?

MAXWELL: Strictly speaking, if it’s decided that the average consumer is deceived into buying a ticket on the basis of the way that theater producers have changed a quite, in theory, I don’t know, they can sue, they can be had up. I mean I think there will be a problem with it because it’s a gray area, even in the case of my “all-out retro romp” quote, when I was that’s what it wasn’t, you know, you get a good lawyer in , they could probably argue why actually that was fair.

JAGOW: Huh. Well will there be any criminal prosecution?

MAXWELL: That would be fun, wouldn’t it?

JAGOW: That’s what I was . . . I was just sort of getting at that. Maybe you’d like to see these people go to jail.

MAXWELL (laughing): Yeah maybe Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber should spend a few months in choky to set an example to the rest of them. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think there might be some raps on knuckles. There may even be some fines. I think that’s going to be really quite extreme if anyone goes to jail for this.

JAGOW: Alright Dominic Maxwell from the Times of London, thank you.

MAXWELL: Thanks a lot. In Los Angeles, I’m Scott Jagow. Thanks for listening and have a great weekend!

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