LA Weekly film critic Karina Longworth has treated Elvis Mitchell to the cover story he deserves, a long, full-bodied look at a controversial career trajectory littered with catty, jealous colleagues.
After setting the scene of her mid-October lunch with Mitchell at LACMA’s restaurant Ray’s, Longworth does the same for the day in mid-June when his appointment as the museum’s new film programmer was announced by Film Independent. FishbowlLA was at the cocktail soiree in question, and we well remember the mood she describes:
It was hours before the Los Angeles Film Festival’s opening-night, open-bar party. Mitchell’s hiring quickly became a hot topic within a crowd thick with film journalists, curators and festival programmers–some of whom had applied for the job. Wagers were laid on how long Mitchell would last at the position. One friend joked that the hiring might be [LACMA director Michael] Govan’s attempt to take a page from The Producers–engineering a program destined to fail, so that he could kill off Film at LACMA once and for all.
This kind of bitter bitchery is nothing unusual. Journalists, filmmakers, random people on the street–it seems everyone has an Elvis Mitchell story. Both those who consider themselves Friends of Elvis and those whose relationships with him are sour or worse are happy to dish about him–albeit almost always off the record. Some are afraid of losing current or future jobs in the ever-more-tenuous world of film journalism. Others simply enjoy his admittedly fine company too much to risk losing it.
Mitchell, a self-described “fastest midget at the circus” who is not averse to showing up at a critics’ screening with an SNL cast member as his plus-one, is a dream cover story subject. One that in this case benefits greatly from Longworth’s extensive secondary sourcing and some well-placed counter-observations.
Previously on FishbowlLA:
Fellow Journalists Place Their Elvis Mitchell Bets
Elvis Mitchell Hooks Back Up with the New York Times