Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why Feud With Zooey Deschanel? Is She Evil Somehow?

For some reason, an LA Times writer decided to personally attack Zooey Deschanel. She wasn't making a point about spoiled celebrities, she just felt compelled to unload on Zooey for no apparent reason. This just seems mean and spiteful because her "opinion piece" had no point except to call Zooey a cow and dump a load of bile on her. Is this the new kind of journalism that the internet culture is going to bring us?

Downtown L.A.: Good Enough For The Royals, But Not For Zooey Deschanel?
(Patt Morrison, LA Times, July 10, 2011)

I can't believe Zooey Deschanel is really the snobby cow she came off sounding like Saturday evening.
The actress was a guest at the black-tie Hollywood BAFTA gala in downtown Los Angeles for the royal Cambridges, William and Kate. To my friend and former Times colleague Claudia Puig, now the USA Today critic and film writer, Ms. Deschanel worried aloud that the neighborhood around the fabulously restored Belasco Theatre might look shabby to the regal couple. "I just don't want them to see the worst of L.A.," said Deschanel. Excuse me? Downtown, the worst of L.A.?

What, Ms. Deschanel, you don’t have any homeless people there near your Westside home? Or does that not count, because they’re on the beach, not the sidewalks? Of course there are thousands of down-and-out folks in downtown L.A. I cannot apologize enough to Ms. Deschanel that in some places, the sidewalks do not smell like Jo Malone candles. There are also million-dollar lofts downtown -- like the ones in the Eastern Columbia building, not far from the Belasco theatre. There is the venerable Grand Central Market, the spectacular Central Library, the Oviatt Building, the jewelry district and the fashion district and MOCA. The royals might have marveled, "Oooh, what’s that?" as they helicoptered downtown above the splendid Disney Concert Hall.

Beyond the polo and the Hollywood glam events in California, in their less than 48-hours here, the royals may have seen more of "real L.A." than many Angelenos have. Just as William’s aunt, Princess Anne, the princess royal, visited Para Los Ninos on Skid Row a generation ago, and put that program on the map, the Cambridges went to an inner-city arts school downtown and to a jobs program for unemployed veterans on the Sony studios lot. This was a working trip for William and Kate; it was, in the main, about good deeds, not good times. And isn’t it possible the royals get tired of red carpets and roses? People naturally want to spiff up for a royal arrival -– there’s the story of an old English lady who got down on her hands and knees with a toothbrush and a bottle of ink to spiff up a carpet for the Queen Mother’s visit.

Maybe these young royals probably actually want to get a look at real reality once in a while. For decades, the royals have had to put in very public good-deed time to help to justify who they are and how they live. Queen Mary, the present queen’s grandmother, supposedly told her daughter, when the girl complained that she was so tired of visiting all those icky hospitals, "We are the British royal family. We all love hospitals, and we are never tired." Prince William has spent time at British charities for the luckless; a couple of years ago, he stayed out a night, "sleeping rough" among London’s homeless, to get a taste, and a smell, of living on the street. Of course it was a staged event. Of course he had security, and of course he could walk right back into a luxurious life the next day, which his fellow street dossers could not. But he did it.

Ms. Deschanel’s remarks are all the more gob-smacking because the success of her 2009 film "[500] Days of Summer" is chiefly thanks to … downtown L.A. The Times said the architecture is the star of the film, from the Music Center to the towering California Plaza and the haunting [and maybe haunted -– it was built on the advice of a Ouija board] Bradbury Building. Did Ms. Deschanel not look any farther than her trailer door? Maybe spending a little time at the inner-city arts school, or at the downtown women’s shelter, might do her even more good than it could do to help out those laudable places. I mean, if it’s not too hard for her to set foot once again in "the worst of L.A."

An Open Letter To Los Angeles Times Writer Patt Morrisson
(By Zooey Deschanel, HelloGiggles website, July 11, 2011)

This is an open letter in response to a piece entitled Downtown LA: Good enough for the royals, but not for Zooey Deschanel?, written by columnist Patt Morrison, which appeared in the publication on July 10, 2011.

Dear Ms. Morrison,

I feel compelled to respond to your recent blog post regarding comments I “allegedly” made outside the BAFTA dinner on Saturday night. I never spoke to you at this event; in fact, you weren’t even there. I am completely and utterly shocked that a professional journalist, whom I have never met, would take a partial quote out of context and use it as the basis for a misguided personal attack. Further, I find it appalling that you would resort to name-calling to get your point across. In a court of law this would be called hearsay, and in journalism, I believe this should be the beginning of an investigation, not the end of one.

Let me be clear: the quote from USA TODAY that you used as the foundation of your piece was taken completely out of context. I NEVER said that Downtown LA was “the worst of LA”. I did make a reference to a parking lot adjacent to the theater that had a lot of trash in it in an attempt to be humorous. I simply said, “It’s funny they brought royalty here, there is a parking lot with trash around the corner.” It wasn’t an opinion. It was true. There was indeed a parking lot with trash around the corner. I thought that the juxtaposition of British Royalty and trash was amusing in a high-brow + low brow sort of way, but I never said that I, personally, didn’t like downtown, the Royals, or even trash.

I LOVE DOWNTOWN LA and I relish any opportunity to spend time there. I have pride in my city, that’s the reason why I thought it was kind of funny that they didn’t clean up the immediate surroundings before the Royals came through. In the end, of course, it didn’t actually matter since those two crazy kids were flown in by helicopter anyway. Silly me. Regardless, I don’t even think I need to defend my love of Los Angeles. I am a native Angelino, and had you done any research at all, you would have found that I have been quoted in the press on numerous occasions talking about how much I love Downtown.

In your piece, the character you’ve created of “me” is actually pretty funny. I don’t know who this person is, but it seems as if you’ve borrowed her from the Susan Lucci repertoire. You make so many far-fetched conclusions; for one thing, you state, “go back to your house on the Westside.” Well, I can’t do that because I do not live on the Westside. You also open your piece by calling me a “cow”, which might be your opinion, but I wish a journalist for the Los Angeles Times and KPCC had found a more sophisticated way of sharing a difference in perceived opinion.

It’s hard for me to comprehend why you launched such a vile and toxic blow in my direction over a sentence fragment that you did not even hear for yourself. I do hope that in the future when writing about something, especially a human being, you will consider both the facts and context before publishing your opinion.

Zooey Deschanel

In Zooey Deschanel Feud, L.A. Times Writer Sticks To Her Guns
(By Jen Chaney, Washington Post Celebritology column, July 12, 2011)

First L.A. Times columnist Patt Morrison wrote an opinion piece slamming Zooey Deschanel for making what she characterized as snobby comments about downtown Los Angeles during Saturday’s BAFTA gala featuring Prince William and Duchess Catherine. Then Deschanel wrote an open letter on her Web site slamming Morrison for writing a column that Deschanel described as inaccurate (she noted that she does not live on the Westside of L.A., as Morrison contended) and a “vile and toxic blow in my direction.” Morrison has issued a response to that, via an e-mail to Celebritology and an open letter of her own. The upshot: she stands by what she wrote. In the open letter, posted to the L.A. Times Web site yesterday evening (July 11, 2011), Morrison writes:

Because I love downtown L.A., warts and all, and because Zooey Deschanel is a talented and charming actress, I am happy to hear that she really does love downtown Los Angeles. After all, my post on Deschanel's observations began with my surprise at what she said to reporters Saturday evening at the Belasco Theatre, where the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, or BAFTA, hosted a party for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. In addition to her saying "I just don’t want them to see the worst of L.A.," she said, "This is such a big deal and there are, like, parking lots filled with trash all the way here. I hope they helicopter them in past that."

Downtown can be a tough place to love, but as I wrote, I think the royals, with their insulated lives, may actually appreciate getting a whiff of something other than roses once in a while. I also wrote that Deschanel lives on the Westside -- not so, say her people. But it's not like it wasn't checked: Voter registration records show that as of last November's election, she was registered to vote at an address in Pacific Palisades. I hope Deschanel will head back to greater downtown L.A. one of these days. The vegetarian breakfasts at the Homegirl Cafe? I can't recommend them enough.

In a response to my e-mail request for comment, the L.A. Times issued this statement, “As a Los Angeles Times Op-Ed columnist, Patt Morrison’s job is to voice opinions. Like our other columnists, her tone and choice of words reflect her own feelings.” As for Deschanel, she has not responded to Morrison’s response but she has tweeted thank yous to several of her Hollywood colleagues who voiced their support for her open letter. Among them: Jonah Hill, Mindy Kaling, Minka Kelly and “Glee’s” Lea Michele.

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