Magazine article Editor & Publisher

His Field of Dreams Is Covering Cinema

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

His Field of Dreams Is Covering Cinema

Article excerpt

SOMEONE GLANCING QUICKLY at James Ryan's resume might wonder how and why he ended up an entertainment writer.

He studied politics and international affairs in college, was a reporting intern at United Press International in Nicaragua and then spent three years as a reporter and editor in a domestic UPI bureau.

Where that bureau was -- Los Angeles -- makes Ryan's career path seem more logical. "The big story here is the entertainment business," said Ryan, who did some Hollywood-related articles before leaving UPI to become L.A. bureau chief and feature writer at the BPI Entertainment News Wire.

His background in politics has not gone to waste since his move to the wire in 1989 because he likes to place a movie or other form of entertainment in its political and social context.

The BPI staffer, who has an office in the Hollywood Reporter building, also likes the looser style of entertainment journalism. "There's more freedom than in straight news writing," he said. "You can be a little more creative."

Ryan files three or four BPI pieces a week on film, TV or music personalities, news and trends. His main format is the profile and his main beat is the movies. In fact, Ryan has interviewed most of Hollywood's top actors and directors.

"He has the ability and contacts to talk to any major star," BPI general manager John Morgan observed.

Ryan also interviews many people associated with independent films.

"It's always nice to get some of the bigger actors and actresses, but I like to mix it up," said Ryan, adding that he is a big fan of independent efforts.

Ryan noted that focusing periodically on independent rather than major-studio films enables him to give exposure to movies that don't have big promotional budgets and to "write more about the art of cinema than the commerce."

He added that independent-film people as well as up-and-coming stars associated with major-studio movies often are better interview subjects than established stars.

Ryan, 34, said less-famous people may have a "fresh perspective" on things as well as more time and willingness to be questioned in depth.

He noted that sometimes the only way to talk to Hollywood superstars plugging their latest projects is at a press event with numerous other media representatives in the room. …

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