In Part 2 of a recollection of his earliest journalism days, Baltimore Sun movie critic Michael Sragow (pictured) shares some colorful memories of the late James Bacon. At the offices of the dearly departed Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, crusty correspondent and Hollywood man-about-town Bacon wasted no time sharing what Sragow deems to be the best career advice he ever received:
“Some people think,” Bacon said with his great gravelly voice, “that you’re supposed to tell them what to see. That’s not the point. You’re supposed to let them get to know you. You stick around long enough, and they’ll be able to tell how to read you. Maybe they’ll agree with you. Maybe they’ll learn that if you hate something they like it, and if you like something, they hate it. That’s what I mean. Just stick around.”
Sragow goes on to credit another James, the paper’s editor Jim Bellows, with helping him do just that. After being hired by Bellows and managing editor Mary Ann Dolan to shake things up, the writings of Sragow caused the paper to start losing advertising.
For example, 20th Century Fox pulled ads after Sragow panned Norma Rae. But through it all, writes Sragow, Bellows stuck by him.