The other day, while at a press screening for the new Danny Boyle film Sunshine, I learned from Oregonian movie critic Shawn Levy that our mutual former colleague, Kim Morgan -- now a freelance Los Angeles print and TV film critic but previously of The Oregonian and, before that, Willamette Week -- recently appeared as a sub for Roger Ebert on Ebert & Roeper. In this brief YouTube clip of the episode, she tells Richard Roeper, "Severed heads are beautiful." Vintage Kim.
This is an aside, but coincidentally, I also met both Ebert and Roeper briefly a few years ago while covering their "Film Festival at Sea" on a Disney cruise to The Bahamas for a travel magazine. The article was rejected (quite unfairly in my opinion) but it was worth it for the free trip, and the total surreality of sitting in a bar called the 'Cadillac Cafe' (decked out like Caddy interior) with the show's producers and Roeper, as well as director Jim Sheridan and his daughter, and a loud tween dance happening in the next room over. (The Sheridans had screened In America, which Ebert & Roeper fawned over but I wasn't very into; I resented being pulled away from my first ocean swim.)
Kim's 15 minutes got me thinking about some of the other people who were working at the paper while I was freelancing there (from 1999-2006). Where they are now? Let's see how many I can remember.
For a couple years at Willamette Week, Kim and I were a two and then three-person review team along with Dave McCoy, both of whom I believe write for MSN now (in addition to Kim's TV stuff). Our overall arts editor at the paper in those days, Caryn, left for a fellowship at Columbia and then became arts editor for a new Associated Press entertainment website called ASAP. The theater critic at that time, Steffen Silvis, is now a critic for the Prague Post and a playwright himself. The music critic, Zach Dundas, is now freelancing for the Associated Press and Maxim. Reporters Bob Young and Maureen O'Hagan (also a couple) are both reporters at the Seattle Times, although Maureen has also been on staff at The Washington Post since leaving WW. Christina Melander, an assistant arts editor I often wrote for, is now writing regularly for The Oregonian about food.
And my best friend from WW, Mac Montandon, has been an editor in New York at Radar and several other magazines while also editing a collection of reviews and essays about Tom Waits and writing for places like the New York Observer. One of the best concerts I ever experienced was going to see Waits in Eugene with Mac, his awesome wife Catherine (who recently edited a collection of reviews and essays about J.D. Salinger) and Valarie. I remember blissfully eating together at Denny's at about 1AM with our ears ringing and our conversation re-hashing the show. Years later, Mac and I also saw a great night of jazz in New York and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge with Catherine. I remember taking a photo of the World Trade Center towers - it was exactly two weeks before they were attacked.
Anyway, there's also a ton of people who worked at the paper in other capacities (production, classified and personals) I knew. Valarie of course ran the personals section, and I've kept close track of her whereabouts. Two friends from classified and productions, Andrea and Steeler fan extraordinaire Scott, wound up getting married and having a kid. Another graphic designer from production, Valarie's pal Barb, is becoming an art therapist. Two other WW'ers who married, our friends Irene and Ben, are down in Oakland now, she getting her PhD in film and he teaching young kids. Our friend Becca, still another WW alumnus from the same group of friends, recently returned from grad school in London and is helping to organize this year's Wordstock festival.
A few others are still at the paper, like IT guru Brian Panganiban, who also competed recently on the VH1 game show The World Series of Pop Culture with his brother Paul. They are perhaps the only friends of mine who can top my knowledge of Flintstones and Brady Bunch episodes. Nigel Janquiss, an excellent reporter who was overshadowed by Bob and Maureen to some degree while I was there, went on to win a Pulitzer Prize reporting for the paper on Neil Goldschmidt's affair with a teenager while mayor. And he didn't ditch the alternative weekly after the big honor - Nigel's still there.
Not bad for a bunch of over-worked and underpaid twenty-somethings getting their start in late-90s fin de siecle Portland, huh?