He's inching closer and closer to going public with his ideas on the rise of cli fi in American culture.
How did Tony, who comes from a half Jewish half Christian background, like almost half of all Americans these days, it seems, become a movie critic?
Well, Janet Maslin at the Times was just stepping down as chief film critic about 15 years ago. One thing led to another and Tony applied for the job, never having been a film critic before. He did do some book reviews earlier, and he knew how to write well, but no movie reviews. But yes, he knew how to write, and he had some Times connections, and some friends stepping up the plate for him inside the Times, and he sat down and wrote some audition pieces, and then much to his surprise -- he got the gig! As John Lennon said: Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."
He says in a recent interview with a young reporter: "[I got the NYT gig] having never been a professional movie reviewer, and with a very skimpy film resumé. But I managed to fake it for long enough and convincingly enough that I could still get away with it."
HE ACTUALLY SAID THAT TO A REPORTER WHO WROTE IT DOWN AND QUOTED HIM THAT WAY!!! [Quote unquote: "I managed to fake it for long enough and convincingly enough that I could still get away with it." Should a major Times film critic say that in public? What does it do to the Times brand when reporters say such things?]
So does Tony tthink of himself as more of a film critic, or as a cultural critic?
To put it plainly, most of all, Tony is a writer, and a very good one at that, and he mostly thinks himself that way -- as a writer. He can do book reviews, he can do movie reviews, he can do think pieces, he can write opeds, he can even write unsigned lead editorials if they asked him too, but he just thinks of himself as a writer.
When Tony wrote a very well received Times think piece on the death of adulthood [“The Death of Adulthood in American Culture”], there was a lot of interesting feedback on Twitter and in other publications. And the piece had provoked a lot of thoughtful responses, pro and con. Which is what a good writer does.
Is Tony going to write that think piece on the rise of cli fi in literature and movies soon? Maybe sooner than later, but time will tell. He likes knowing what people think of his reviews and often goes on Twitter to see who like what and why. So after seeing the many tweets with the #clifi hashtag on Twitter, Tony's getting closer and closer to writing about the cli fi meme.
Tony was born in Northampton, Massachusetts. Both of his parents were professors. His mother, Joan Wallach Scott, is a Professor at the School of Social Science in the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. His father, Donald Scott, is a professor of American history at The City University of New York (CUNY). He is a great nephew of the Jewish actor Eli Wallach (his maternal grandfather was Eli's brother). Tony is Jewish on his mother's side, Christian on his father's side. He attended public schools in Providence, Rhode Island, including Classical High School. He graduated magna cum laude from some scruffy minor Ivy League school in 1988 with a degree in literature.
He has a son and a daughter, so Tony knows that cli fi speaks to future generations, too.