Check out letters from those who agreed with us, and those who didn't, on our ''Pay It Forward'' review, ''Billy Elliot,'' and more

By EW Staff
November 17, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

Mail from our readers

Does popularity equal power? This is the question readers pondered after our annual Power Issue. ”Fred Durst? Jennifer Lopez? Eminem? What’s wrong with you?” asks Jen Whelan of Anderson, S.C. ”I didn’t realize I was getting a copy of MTV Weekly,” writes Matt Joseph of Pittsfield, Mass. Speaking of power, movie critic Lisa Schwarzbaum did everything she could — LIKE AN ALL-CAPS SPOILER ALERT — to forewarn readers in her Pay It Forward review, but they didn’t listen. Crystal Lemarier of Gastonia, N.C., cries, ”Now the ending is ruined!”. And Kevin McGinley of Providence pays it forward to Schwarzbaum in his own Power-ful way: ”I put [her] at the top of my 101 Most Awful Critics In Entertainment.”

I have been a loyal subscriber to EW for over five years now and anxiously await the results of your annual Power Issue. I was horrified when I received this week’s issue and discovered that Britney Spears was listed as the 20th most powerful person in the entertainment industry. You mean to tell me that Britney has more power, more clout, in the entertainment industry than George Lucas and Regis Philbin, more power in the music industry than Tommy Mottola and Madonna? Tell your researchers and editorial team to check their stats.
Johanna Fuentes
Brookline, Mass.

Carson Daly ahead of Robert De Niro? Must be his cameo in Josie and the Pussycats that put him over the top, huh?
Chip Christopher
Arlington, Va.

So let me see if I got this straight: Barbra Streisand, who claims her New Year’s Eve concert established the all-time single-performance box office record, isn’t featured in your Power Issue — the 101 most powerful people in entertainment. But Jennifer Lopez is? Why? Because she wore a dress at the Grammys and showed off her breasts?You need to get those Republicans off your staff!
Neal Bakke
Glendale, Calif.

Wow! Even The Dixie Chicks and Knight Rider‘s talking car have more power than Bruce Springsteen. That tells you all you need to know about the condition of the United States of America in the year 2000.
Jim Van Horn
Clinton, Ark.

Did you forget Sarah Michelle Gellar?
Linda Little
Wahoo, Neb.

Lori Kapes
Allentown, Pa.

…Kevin Spacey?
Jen Whelan
Anderson, S.C.

…John Travolta?
Samantha Baines

…Christina Aguilera?
Farris Flagg
San Diego

Memo to CBS and NBC: Shame on you for urging your stars off Celebrity Millionaire! Wouldn’t your stars, especially Conan O’Brien, appreciate the added exposure to 35 million people, and possibly luring them to sample their shows? It’s the free advertising, stupid!
Dave Fought

How sad is it that major broadcasting networks have resorted to strong-arm tactics for future participants on the Celebrity Millionaire show? The shame of this whole matter is that charitable organizations that would have benefited are now without those needed funds.
Francis Furdell
Mount Laurel, N.J.

Re ”Who Be Scooby?”: Did anyone at EW see Rob Lowe’s impersonation of Shaggy on Saturday Night Live recently? Tom Green may look the part, but after seeing Rob, no other Shaggy will do!
Kym Cormier
Dalton, Mass.

Of course the film Billy Elliot should have an R rating if the language is peppered with at least 40 F-words. It’s getting harder and harder as a responsible parent to trust even a PG-13 rating. Jack Valenti is right: There are still some of us who refuse to just roll over and accept that this is how everybody talks.
Camilla Mitchell
Colorado Springs

Corrections: In our Power Issue, the photograph of No. 99, AtomFilms founder and CEO Mika Salmi, was incorrect. We regret the error. We misspelled the name of Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. The Rock); we misspelled actress E.G. Daily’s name, and she voices Tommy, not Chuckie, on Rugrats (Power 101).

Critic Lisa Schwarzbaum’s less-than-glowing review of Pay It Forward received a staggering 73 letters, most of them irate. Here’s a sampling — and her response.

Regarding Lisa Schwarzbaum’s review of Pay It Forward: How many dogs did she kick and how many babies did she steal candy from on her way in to work to write it?
Linda Biesecker
Apple Valley, Minn.

Lisa Schwarzbaum’s Pay It Forward piece was one of the most uninformative, biased, mean-spirited reviews I’ve ever read. She clearly missed the point of a brilliant and important movie. Pay It Forward is neither manipulative nor over-the-top, and Schwarzbaum’s ineptness in conveying what the movie really portrayed is unfair to EW’s readers.
Sarah Topy
Columbus, Ohio

As a faithful reader of EW, I was surprised I hadn’t heard Jim Carrey had been replaced by Lisa Schwarzbaum to play the Grinch. I have more than my share of cynicism and I can appreciate someone being annoyed with heartstrings being manipulated, but jeez… to read a review that was so angry was just ridiculous.
Elizabeth Anderson
Mission Viejo, Calif.

I was flipping through EW while waiting in line to see Pay It Forward and I came across Lisa Schwarzbaum’s review. Thanks for the spoiler warning, Lisa, and thanks too for an insightful, fair, and spot-on review of the pile of drivel known as Pay It Forward. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, but this article has convinced me: I’m going to name my first born (male or female) after Lisa Schwarzbaum!
Michelle Fearnley

Why do film critics feel the need to sometimes be downright nasty about a film? Lisa Schwarzbaum’s review of Pay It Forward was disturbing. Yes, I have seen the film, and yes, I was disappointed by the ending, but Pay It Forward in no way deserved such a venom-filled review. Such gratuitous hatred for a film is just unsettling to me.
Marc Bess
Cherryville, N.C.

I’m outraged, appalled, and disgusted by the fact that Lisa Schwarzbaum gave away the ending to Pay It Forward. It’s bad enough that she graded this moving and sweet film with a D, but then she added insult to injury by revealing the ending. Once again ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY has become ”Ruin the Surprise Weekly.”
Brenda Wilson
Dover, N.J.

EW has published articles lamenting the slew of garbage Hollywood seems to be spilling out. Then here comes a morality play about a so-called movement unwittingly started by a kid’s school project that is ripped apart by the most appallingly reviewed and written article that I have ever read. Is Lisa Schwarzbaum so skeptical that she reveled in shredding what [others] viewed as an uplifting film despite the tears welling in our eyes?
Tom Cartledge

Oh, how I wish I had listened to you when you advised me to stay away from Pay It Forward. But I foolishly ignored your warning, and boy, am I sorry. The movie would have been okay, if not for the ending, which ruins the entire movie. I am a sucker for tearjerkers, but this was just way too over-the-top even for me. In an effort to pay it forward, if I can convince three people not to see this movie, and they can each convince three people, and they can each convince three people, I will have done my duty!
Rosalie Smith
San Diego

Maybe you should give Lisa Schwarzbaum a vacation. I’ve never seen anyone get so worked up over a movie before. Revealing the ending of the film — just because it pissed her off — was a bit immature, yet incredibly funny. Take a deep breath, Lisa, it’s only a job.
Deb Ronca
Somerset, N.J.

Give Lisa Schwarzbaum a raise! Her review of Pay It Forward was the funniest thing I’ve read in your magazine in a long time. I haven’t seen the movie, and yes, I read the spoiler because I was enjoying the review so much I couldn’t stop. Thanks, Lisa! You should get worked up more often; it makes for great reading!
Carolyn Sievert
Plano, Tex.

Calling critics with whom one disagrees names is a time-honored activity for passionate filmgoers; now let’s broaden the conversation. Topic A: The tearjerker or feel-good ”message” movie that jerks our tears by rubbing onions in our eyes — then lectures us about how we ought to feel grateful because there are poor people in the world who can’t afford onions so let’s all start planting gardens — is the movie that covertly thinks we’re all too dumb to feel grateful otherwise. Topic B: Like people who, despite reasonable warnings, break their necks by recklessly speeding down mountainsides because the activity looked cool on a TV car commercial, folks who ignore spoiler warnings and then complain that the ending is spoiled are… just naturally injury prone. Discuss.
Lisa Schwarzbaum