One of the best things about being editor of EW is getting free stuff — like the scary doll from The Conjuring that’s sitting on my desk; it looks like Lindsay Lohan and freaks me the hell out every day. The other great thing is working with an incredibly fun, talented staff. Speaking of which, I want to share some exciting news with you. Today I announced three new critics: Jeff Jensen (TV), Melissa Maerz (TV), and Chris Nashawaty (Movies). Please wish them well and tweet them your best wishes. Here’s the announcement that went out to the staff:
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating Entertainment Weekly’s new film and TV critics. Chris Nashawaty brings his good humor and deep knowledge to our movie reviews alongside, of course, Owen Gleiberman; our TV reviews, meanwhile, are now in the very capable and talented hands of Jeff Jensen and Melissa Maerz. All of them will play a key role for the magazine, our site, our tablet edition, and a ton of brand extensions. Here’s all the buzz on our three new critics:
CHRIS NASHAWATY is celebrating 20 years at Entertainment Weekly. During that time he has become one of the most recognizable and respected writers in our industry. He specializes in the rougher edges of pop culture, and is working on a coffee table book about Roger Corman, which started out as a story Chris pitched and wrote for EW. He made Mickey Rourke cry during an interview a few years ago — and the resulting profile is a shining example of the many vivid, unforgettable features Chris has written over the years. (On Rourke: “Tonight, he’s dressed in skintight black jeans, a pair of handmade denim cowboy boots that look like they cost a fortune, and a black vest with nothing on underneath. His chest is tanned and muscular and hairless. There’s a tattoo of a fleur-de-lis right below his pecs.”) Chris also has a deep respect for filmmakers and excellent taste in movies — which has helped him revitalize our DVD & Streaming section and endeared him to our audience and the industry we cover. Chris knows his stuff, and I’m deeply grateful to have another critic with such wisdom and passion.
To be fair, JEFF “DOC” JENSEN has been acting as a TV critic for much of his 15-year tenure at EW. After all, his beloved Lost recaps on EW.com were essentially a brilliant Ph.D. course in everything from quantum physics to religion to mortality — and at some point a guy named Philip Jose Farmer. Since Lost ended, Jeff has brought his intelligence, curiosity, and wit to everything from the end of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy to the Kardashians to Arrow. (“It’s the morning after election day, and pop culture’s newly anointed superhero is in the gym battling an evil more daunting than any supervillian: man boobs.”) Along the way, he broke news of the upcoming Veronica Mars movie, served as one of our resident video game experts, and along with co-conspirator Darren Franich has produced the popular Entertainment Geekly podcast. As a TV critic, he will enrich EW on print and digital platforms with writing as surprising as it is smart. His remarkable talent will also be on display in the upcoming sci-fi film Tomorrowland, starring George Clooney. Jeff co-wrote the movie with Damon Lindelof and director Brad Bird, and serves as executive producer.
During her two years at Entertainment Weekly, MELISSA MAERZ has written 429 articles, spanning every medium imaginable. She’s gone dog shopping with Lena Dunham, watched Louis C.K. get punched in the gut, and spent hours in Adam Levine’s bacchanalian bachelor pad and somehow emerged unscathed. But Melissa’s biggest contributions to the magazine and site have been her trend-spotting (she penned early articles on “The Great Folk-Rock Revival” and the “Revenge of the Teenaged Girl”) and her ability to beautifully convey intelligent, pithy commentary on pretty much any subject. Take, for example, FX’s The Bridge: “The culture wars are so rich here that it’s hard to imagine what issues the Swedish/Danish version explored. What could two relatively similar Scandinavian countries have to fight about? Whether Brigitte Nielsen is more famous than the Swedish Chef?” Or her view on Taylor Swift’s latest album: “The writer James Dickey once described a poet as ‘someone who stands outside in the rain, hoping to be struck by lightning.’ He could’ve been talking about Taylor Swift.” We are lucky to have Melissa curate the turbulent and increasingly exciting world of TV.
The shoes of our former critics Ken Tucker and Lisa Schwarzbaum are enormous, extraordinary, and daunting shoes to fill. But Chris and Jeff and Melissa are among the finest, sharpest writers I have ever had the pleasure of working with. I look forward to seeing them carry this amazing, singular brand into the future.