The Editor's Desk: Mark Whitaker Talks about the Cover Story about M. Night Shyamalan

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Byline: -Mark Whitaker

We don't do "Hollywood covers" very often, and we don't always get them right. In retrospect, we've done some that were pretty silly. ("Can a Movie Help Make a President?" was our line for the 1983 astronaut epic, "The Right Stuff." Within months the candidate in question, John Glenn, withdrew from the race.) We've also lived to regret putting a movie our reviewers didn't like on the cover because we thought it would have big box-office--and newsstand-- sales. (Remember "Pearl Harbor"? Disappointing on both counts.) But we've done many show-business covers we're proud of, and they usually have one of two things going for them. They tap into meaty social, political or historical debates ("JFK," "Saving Private Ryan," "Malcolm X"). Or they introduce our readers to an actor or director who is particularly promising--well ahead of the media pack.

Jeff Giles sensed that about M. Night Shyamalan as soon as they met in 2000. Then only 29, Shyamalan had directed the sleeper hit "The Sixth Sense," and Jeff invited him to our editorial Oscar Round Table. Shyamalan confidently declared his ambition to make quality blockbusters, and got into a tiff with Sam Mendes ("American Beauty") by complaining that critics only like films that "break the rules. …