Op-Ed

Op-Ed
Gerstmanngate in Reverse: Maxim Fires "Must See" Film Critic

Russ Pitts | 8 Jan 2008 21:17
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You may not have heard of film reviewer Peter Hammond, but you've undoubtedly read some of his eye-catching blurbs.

According to consumer blog The Consumerist, Hammond has been responsible for praising decidedly un-praiseworthy movies with such entertaining, non-stop thrill ride catch-blurbs as "Must see!" in spite of generally poor overall reviews, specifically to get his name pasted in advertisements touting the films. Criticwatch, naming Hammond their "bag of douche" of the year, cites his remarkable "24 straight weeks with a quote on a new release." What's interesting here is not that someone could be such a tool, but that the cast of characters should seem so eerily familiar.

Hammond, until very recently, worked for Maxim, a magazine that appears to have tolerated his tomtoolery gladly, even allowing him to alter the text of his reviews to placate movie executives. Sounding more familiar? This would have been under the reign of Steven Colvin, former President of Dennis Publishing, the publishers of Maxim. Colvin traded his President and CEO stripes at Dennis for an Executive Vice President's chair at CNet Networks in October of last year, where he was tasked with heading up their entertainment division, including the videogame review site Gamespot.

You may recall the events of late last year when game reviewer Jeff Gerstmann was fired from Gamespot, presumably by Colvin, for writing a review of Eidos' terrible game, Kane & Lynch, which honestly (and painfully) reflected just how disappointed he was with the game. The bad news for Gerstmann was Eidos had invested a great deal of money in advertising on Gamespot, which they then pulled after reading his review. It has been alleged Gerstmann's firing came as a result of this move.

So what can we make of all this? Maxim employed a shill of a film reviewer in Peter Hammond, who wrote meaningless drivel to get his name (and Maxim's) plastered on every movie poster in Hollywood, and acceded to distributor demands to alter the content of his reviews. In October, the head guy over Maxim moved to Gamespot, where a game reviewer, Jeff Gerstmann, was fired, allegedly for not being willing to act like Peter Hammond.

Radar online notes Maxim's new EIC's first official moves were to hire a no-nonsense editor to clean up the West Coast office, and firing Peter Hammond, ostensibly to do the same for their movie review desk. It would now seem Colvin intended to make similar moves at Gamespot, in reverse. Score one for the appearance of impropriety.

I hate to point fingers, but it looks to me we've found the real villain of Gerstmanngate. Mr. Colvin, will you release the tapes?

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