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Disney ends blacklist of L.A. Times film critics after backlash

Disney CEO Robert Iger in 2013.

Disney CEO Robert Iger in 2013. Credit: Getty Images / Michael Loccisano

Disney has ended its blacklist of Los Angeles Times film critics, after a coalition of critics’ groups announced they were excluding the studio’s movies from year-end awards consideration in response.

“We’ve had productive discussions with the newly installed leadership at the Los Angeles Times regarding our specific concerns, and as a result, we’ve agreed to restore access to advance screenings for their film critics,” a Walt Disney Co. representative said Tuesday in a statement to Newsday.

The newspaper on Nov. 3 posted a statement saying Disney had “declined to offer the Times advance screenings, citing what it called unfair coverage of its business ties with Anaheim,” the city where the theme park Disneyland is located.

As a result, a group including the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Boston Society of Film Critics the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle, of which Newsday’s Rafer Guzmán is a member, said in a statement Tuesday that, “Disney’s actions, which include an indefinite ban on any interaction with the Times, are antithetical to the principles of a free press and set a dangerous precedent in a time of already heightened hostility toward journalists.” In response, the four critics’ organizations “have voted to disqualify Disney’s films from year-end awards consideration until said blackout is publicly rescinded.”

Eric Kohn, chair of the New York Film Critics Circle, said, “We’re happy to see that Disney has come around on this, and hope that its decision contributes to ongoing discussions about the freedom of the press — and the relevance of film criticism — in today’s media landscape. We look forward to considering Disney films for our November 30 vote.”

Disney had said in a statement Nov. 3 that, “We regularly work with news organizations around the world that we don’t always agree with, but in this instance the L.A. Times showed a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards. Despite our sharing numerous indisputable facts with the reporter, several editors, and the publisher over many months, the Times moved forward with a biased and inaccurate series, wholly driven by a political agenda. . . . ”

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