Michael Medved: In the hot seat -- The critic deals with potentially taking money from a movie studio in the Art Buchwald case

No sooner had film critic Michael Medved appeared as an expert witness for Paramount Pictures (in the Art Buchwald case) than the cohost of Sneak Previews, which airs on PBS, was thrust into the spotlight. The Associated Press reported that Medved, known for criticizing the decline of ethics in Hollywood, had not only accepted money as Paramount’s witness against Buchwald (as much as $10,000), but had ”shocked some members of his profession by admitting he accepted money from studios to rewrite scripts and advised studios how to market their films.”

Clear cases of conflict of interest? Medved issued a six-page rebuttal, claiming: His testimony for Paramount did not compromise his critical integrity, citing reviews he had written that ”savaged” four of the company’s recent movies; any marketing advice he had offered studios had been free; and his screenwriting jobs had occurred before he joined Sneak Previews in 1985.

But AP reporter John Horn says, ”The facts are clear.” And critic Gene Siskel, admitting he’d been asked to testify for Buchwald, says, ”I immediately turned (it) down. You’re not supposed to be part of the story.”

As for Sneak Previews, it promises to save Medved his aisle seat, saying that the show ”has no reason to doubt the objectivity of his reviews.”