Jeffrey Wells is a tough journalist covering Hollywood. He's frequently regarded as the premiere movie columnist.
He began his entertainment journalism career in Conecticutt before moving to New York in 1978. He wrote for the New York Post and other outlets. He moved to Los Angeles in 1983 and quit journalism to work publicity for Menahem Golan's Cannon Pictures, than at its height (1986). He married in 1987.
Jeffrey, who never finished college, returned to journalism after his 1991 divorce. He became a freelance writer for the Los Angeles Times.
In the early nineties, Wells earned Sony's enmity by writing tough pieces about Mark Canton. He wrote about the troubled Bruce Willis movie Striking Distance in the Los Angeles Times. He supposedly contributed to a scathing column by Celia Brady in Spy magazine which said Canton slept through a screening of The Age of Innocence. Brady wrote that when Canton was at Warner Brothers, he oversaw Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet starring Mel Gibson. Canton reportedly asked for a plot summary.
While investigating Columbia Pictures executive Michael Nathanson, who was involved in the Heidi Fleiss scandal, Wells had his phone tapped by private eye Anthony Pellicano. Pellicano then did a thorough background search on Wells, looking for information to discredit him. Pellicano found nothing.
In the 6/4/93 LA Times, Wells wrote about a disastrous test screening for the bomb Last Action Hero. Sony went nuts.
Then Wells contributed to an Entertainment Weekly story with the cover that screamed "Schwarzenegger Finishes "Last"!!" Canton had the offending issue pulled from the shelves of Columbia's bookstore. (Hit & Run, pg. 375)
"There was, in fact, a traitor in its midst, a high-level employee inside the Thalberg Building, who had sought out Wells and other members of the press and filled their ears with vivid accounts of the problems on Last Action Hero." (Hit & Run, pg. 378)
Jeffrey's Last Action Hero expose and the angry bullying that resulted from Sony raised his profile in town. For five years he wrote a weekly column for the Los Angeles Times syndicate published in outlets around the world. He eventually quit in late 1998 to concentrate on his Mr Showbiz internet column. Since late 1998, Wells has concentrated on his internet columns, which he's found more fulfilling than other writing.
Wells has also written for People magazine, and Entertainment Weekly.
From the Daily Telegraph 2/26/00: [Harry] Knowles's site is just one of numerous internet boons for the film fan. The IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) renders most reference books superfluous. Film news is well covered by the websites of both Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, and may be given a new depth in Powerful Media, a forthcoming venture from journalist Kurt Andersen. Corona Films is a digest of the progress of films in the shooting or development stage, while Reel.com, as well as selling videos and DVDs, lays on data, and the internet's best movie columnist, Jeffrey Wells. Wells's Hollywood Confidential is stylishly written, deeply informed, and irreverent, without slipping into cheapness. If Knowles is the internet movie sector's Doc Holliday, Wells is its Wyatt Earp."
David Poland writes about Wells 6/20/00: "Variety's Jonathan Bing credits Wells with the first reviews of Gladiator, The Patriot and Me, Myself & Irene. He's simply wrong about Irene. After sitting with Jeff at an Irene screening, I beat Jeff to print by days on the film. And his new attitude about the film, printed last week, reads an awful lot like my opinion. Hmmm… But in the cases of Gladiator and The Patriot, Wells' "scoop" was nothing other than a willingness to break the embargo without regard to anyone but himself. Sony made the mistake of not demanding an agreement from Wells to embargo his comments on The Patriot when they allowed him to see it. I feel somewhat responsible because I am the idiot who let him know there was a screening. Sony let him see it as a gesture of good will. And they got screwed for their gesture, as Jeff disregarded a series of post-screening calls asking that he not write about the film when he did. He also screwed me directly, as my post-screening comments made up much of his "buzz" review. Yes, I was the unnamed journalist who suggested that a Steven Soderbergh version of the film would have been an improvement and that Warner Bros. would be pleased by the length and slowness of the film. Little did I know that Wells would "scoop" me with my own thoughts. He has since agreed out loud not to pull that kind of stunt, stealing my thoughts which I use for a living as his column fodder ever again on threat of never hearing a thought of mine again.
"Wells will honor an embargo if you make it 100 percent clear with him. He has, at times, worked around the embargo and rationalized that he was reporting on the opinions of others and not himself. But if you nail him down, Jeff won't screw you. Not that I'm offering a guarantee."
David Poland writes 6/22/00: "I have been forced to face the end of my relationship, professional and personal, with Jeff Wells. I do not take this step blithely. Despite whatever perception of rivalry we have on the 'net, we have been friends. But in the process of losing his mind over this Patriot issue, he was edging close to "the line" I drew for acceptable, if irritating, behavior. And then, he crossed it. I won't get any more specific than that, other than to say that my decision has nothing to do with anything he's written lately, including his theft of my thoughts and his public lack of remorse for doing the same. It's not even about Sony banning the entire Internet community from long lead screenings because of his selfish behavior. It's about honor between friends. There's little point in trying to convince you that Jeff did something wrong or that I did something right is not the point. But for all his insanity--and remarkable memory lapses--I mourn the loss of Jeff's friendship as a colleague in a very small circle of movie columnists. In fact, it's not even a circle. It's barely a parallelogram. He will be missed."
David Poland carries on an ongoing battle with Jeff Wells on www.thehotbutton.com. This from 10/31/01: "[I]f Jeff wants to write another word about Scorsese losing his edge, he should be forced to give up his column and to go work for the Enquirer, where nonsensical combinations of ignorance and pandering are the key ingredients to success. You know, I love Jeff, as completely whacked as he is sometimes. You won’t meet many people who want to do right in this world as much as Jeffrey. But he knows as much about movie directing as a monkey in an astronaut training program does. I know Jeff cares about his subject, film. But like so many of us in this side of the business, he forgets that the art form is bigger than the game. And a hell of a lot bigger than him… or any one of us, for that matter."
Jeffrey Wells has changed the name of his column from Hollywood Confidential to Hollywood Elsewhere. Does he want to leave town? Jeff writes: "I want to go elsewhere, over the hill. I want release and salvation." Find religion, Jeffrey.
A thinker recently remarked that "anti-Catholicism is the new anti-Semitism." For further evidence, see Jeffrey's column. He writes about Mel Gibson's new movie about Jesus: "Who needs a Jesus flick from a Vietnam War-saluting, right-wing, Roman Catholic, cigarette-smoking Aussie auteur?"
Wells knows that in Hollywood, it's fine to bash Christians but not Jews.
Reader Bill Narducci replies: "And what the hell is wrong with a film made by a Roman Catholic? Why don't you say who needs a film directed by an Islamic? Or a Jew? Of course you wouldn't do that. In my opinion, you are a coward."
Jeff replies: "I was giving Roman Catholics my calloused backhand when I wrote that line. It's only that Gibson's staunch conservatism, which to my eyes has allowed for a certain oblique support of the Vietnam War and, as I recall, certain homophobic sentiments picked up in the press, indicates an odd fit with the story about the last hours of one of the gentlest and most loving men in recorded history."
It's fine in today's political climate to pick on Roman Catholics qua Catholics but not on homosexuals. It's even easier to beat up on conservative Catholics like Gibson who've expressed distaste for the Biblically forbidden practice of homosexuality. You can say anything about such people.
Dogma: Too Hot For Disney
Acknowledging that they are acting to shield the Walt Disney Co. and chairman Michael Eisner from further criticism from religious activists, Miramax co-founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein said Wednesday that they are setting up a new company to handle the release of Kevin Smith's upcoming religious satire, Dogma (1999). The film has already drawn fire from such groups as the Catholic League. It also stirred up a hornet's nest on the Internet last August when costar Ben Affleck virulently accused Jeffrey Wells a columnist for the Disney-owned Mr. Showbiz site, of distorting his comments about the movie at a news conference ("I've been had by the Tim McVeigh of the gay left and duped into playing a role in his imagined 'war' between Disney and some fringe religious group.")
Affleck: No More Mr. Nice Guy?
Actress Laura Harring (Miss World 1985) got journalist Jeff Wells bounced from writing a profile of her in Craig Vasiloff's Razor Magazine.
Wells has written three pieces in Razor -- one on Stanley Kubrick, one on the Wachowski brothers (who directed the Matrix movies) and one on Tara Reid.
I worked for Craig from January 1999 to March 2000 and we've had cordial relations since. I used to chat on the phone with Allison and I met her in Las Vegas in January 2000. We all stayed at the Bellagio.
For years, Craig had an idea for a men's magazine like Razor and once he met Richard Botto, he finally got to make it a reality.
I had a run-in with the Bottos in late 2000.
Jeff Wells met with Laura at a Coffee Bean on Friday, December 5.
Wells ran into Chris McGurk of MGM at a breakfast Wednesday. Chris said she was a hot tamale. She's a pistol. Call up Jules Haimowitz, president of Dick Clark Productions. He used to date Laura on-and-off for 18 months though they never slept together.
Jeff calls Haimowitz. This is standard for any movie star profile. You call people who know your subject to round out the profile.
Wells interviewed director Jonathan Hensleigh of 2004's The Punisher, in which Laura appears.
Jeff showed her his notes from his interviews.
Laura dances beautifully (salsa and tango).
She tried to use her little actress tricks. She claimed her birthday was in 1967 when IMDB has it as 1964.
Wells turned in a piece typical of his moviepoopshoot.com column with an extra emphasis on frat boy randiness as Razor is a frat boy magazine. Razor wanted something drier and more complimentary, like Esquire's "women we love" pieces but at 1500 words.
Razor told Wells to take out all judgment, all colloquialisms, all frat boy attitude. Just make it a nice polite complimentary piece, which Jeff believes he did.
Jeff didn't write the nasty truth about her -- that her career is not going to go anywhere. She had that one flare-up with Mulholland Drive and the cool lesbian scene.
Laura got her manager Evans to call up Razor and get Wells booted from the piece with only a $150 kill fee (for a $1500 piece). Wells spent four days on the piece and thinks a fairer kill fee would be 50% of the original fee of $1500.
Wells told Evans, the manager, that this is par for the course for a manager to manipulate the editorial direction of a piece. We all know publicists and managers choose writers, veto writers...
Jeff feels that Razor should've told him that the fix was in on this piece and all they wanted was a sweetheart piece. Wells doesn't need a Razor magazine piece on Laura Harring as a vehicle for personal expression.
Jeff sent Evans the piece.
"Razor has never even edited me before and now they suddenly say I can't write," says Jeff.
Harring was alarmed that Jeff called her purported boyfriend Jules Haimowitz. Well, it was this boyfriend who planted the idea that Harring was a reincarnation of Rita Hayworth.
Rolling Stone hasn't used Jeffrey Wells for over a year after he published a piece in the magazine based on the highly-guarded script of the future edition of The Matrix (at RS's request). Matrix producer Joel Silver got angry and called RS. Its publisher Jann Wenner has since blackballed Jeffrey.
Craig Vasiloff, editor of Razor Magazine responds:
June 21, 2010: