Newspaper owner tells critic: No reviews of films featuring strong women

Michael Calleri wrote film reviews for the Niagara Falls Reporter for seven years — “a wonderful experience,” he says, until the weekly paper was sold earlier this year and then “veered so far off the cliff that it collided with itself.”

Under Reporter founding editor Mike Hudson, “I could say and write what I wanted,” writes Calleri. It was a different story after Frank Parlato bought the 12-year-old paper from Hudson.

The new editor-publisher wanted to approve the movies I reviewed, which had never happened before. Worse, there would be a litmus test. If the movie featured strong or empowered women, I would not be allowed to write about that film. I checked my calendar. No, I hadn’t traveled back in time. It wasn’t the tenth century, it was still 2012. Relieved about the date, I asked him if he was serious. He was.

The critic (left) and the publisher

Parlato told Calleri in an email that “I don’t want to publish reviews of films where women are alpha and men are beta. where women are heroes and villains and men are just lesser versions or shadows of females. i believe in manliness. …If you care to write reviews where men act like good strong men and have a heroic inspiring influence on young people to build up their character (if there are such movies being made) i will be glad to publish these.”

The film critic writes on Roger Ebert’s blog: “So, after seven good and enjoyable years of writing for the Niagara Falls Reporter, a chapter ended. And yes, founding editor Hudson paid his writers, including me. Guess who didn’t.”

That would be Parlato, who fires back today, saying that Calleri’s reviews were “drivel” and “largely unread” because the critic “lacks the fundamentals in sound thinking or logic.”

He adds:

If I knew Calleri was going to publish my off-the-record and, in parts, tongue-in-cheek email, I would have added capital letters and a couple of commas, but I wouldn’t have changed what I wrote.

In fact I might have made the language even stronger.

The weekly’s owner says that “while I enjoyed the unintentionally funny and immature rudeness of Calleri and some of the writers who posted comments [on Ebert’s site], some, I suspect, may have a deep-seated daddy issue. They simply hate the idea of a strong, powerful man in their cowardly and effete new world.

“In any event, this is, in many respects, much ado about nothing. The Niagara Falls Reporter is geared toward local news and not reviews of big-corporate Hollywood.”

* Film critic: “What you are about to read may shock you” (suntimes.com)
* Parlato: Movie reviewer is upset with me, publishes private email (niagarafallsreporter.com)
* “I never thought I’d utter these words, but I miss Mike Hudson” (niagarapost.com)

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