Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Legendary Hollywood Columnist Army Archerd Dead at Age 87: A Personal Appreciation

I was very sadden this afternoon to learn about the death of a true Hollywood icon. Army Archerd covered stars and the business like no other journalist. His access to the movers and shakers of the industry was unprecedented. His power could also not be denied. For over 50 years, his Daily Variety column (in which I'm honored to say that my name has appeared in) was a must-read for everyone in the business of acting and entertainment. From stars to show publicists, from network presidents to network pages, if being in and being a part of the industry mattered to you, Army Archerd was the only true Hollywood columnist who mattered.

Newspapers and magazines will sing his praises in the wake of his death. They can do what they do best. But, none of those reporters knew the Army Archerd I knew.

I was connected with Army over the years in my role as publicist and managers to numerous actors who were always thrilled to see their names in print in his column. Later, I got to know Army and his wife, Selma, well when I was brought on to head up press coverage and publicity for the mega Hollywood event that honored Army for his 40 years with Daily Variety.

It was a star-studded Hollywood event to beat all other star-studded Hollywood events, and, in the process, those honoring Army helped raised over a million dollars that was shared among three of Archerd's pet charities.

For me, the professional highlight was getting a cover story about Army and his legacy in the Wall Street Journal. A personal highlight was getting to know the man socially in a way I hadn't known him before. "Brady," he called me. I liked that.

There comes a time when the curtain sets on an era. This afternoon was a sad reminder that in a new media, online, hi-tech world where what qualifies as "news" is hardly worth mentioning, Army was the best of the best of the old school. Much like Walter Cronkite's respected reputation as a newsman, Army Archerd represented an era of Hollywood journalism that I also mourn the passing of.


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