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Scott D. Pierce
Scott D. Pierce writes about television for the Salt Lake Tribune. Vice president of the Television Critics Associationn, he's covered TV in Utah since 1990.

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Rude Rex Reed needs to retire

New York Observer film critic Rex Reed needs to retire. Now.

His personal attacks on "Identity Thief" star Melissa McCarthy are indefensible. It's one thing to criticize someone's performance; it's quite another to call someone a "female hippo" and "tractor sized."

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It's not that Reed should apologize for what he wrote, he shouldn't have written it in the first place.

And now he's gone and defended those comments, adding insults to insults.

To be clear, this is not about Reed's review of the movie. He's certainly not the only critic who panned "Identity Thief." Far from it.

And I totally support his right to express whatever he thinks of that movie and anything else. A review is the opinion of the reviewer. Some of my best friends are other TV critics, and we often disagree strongly.

I don't have a problem with a critic telling readers that something is terrible; I've done that with some frequency myself.

I do have a problem with a critic insulting an actor's appearance.

And it doesn't help your credibility if you're just flat-out wrong. In his review, Reed wrote, "Melissa McCarthy ('Bridesmaids') is a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success."

That can only lead us to believe that Reed has seen "Bridesmaids," "Identity Thief" and nothing else. Maybe not "Mike & Molly"; certainly not "Gilmore Girls," on which McCarthy starred from 2000-2007.

Her "short career" dates back to at least 1997, and an increasingly successful run that long is something most actors can only dream of.

Rather than apologize, Reed went back on the offensive -- in more way than one. In a radio interview, he said that his insults were "what sold tickets" and made "Identity Thief" a $36.6 million success in its opening weekend, adding that McCarthy "is crying all the way to the bank."

Talk about taking yourself waaaay too seriously.

Reed also tried to reframe his nasty comments into some sort of public-service campaign.

"I object to using health issues like obesity as comedy talking points. That's what this girl does, this Melissa Manchester (sic)," he said. "I have too many friends that have died of obesity-related illnesses, heart problems and diabetes ... I don't find this to be the subject of a lot of humor."

To pretend that's what he meant in his original review is nothing short of a lie. Check it out for yourself:


For the record, I've never met Rex Reed. I have interviewed Melissa McCarthy a number of times in the past 13 years, and she's always been charming.

In that radio interview, Reed said, "Don't make me a villain."

The only person who made Reed a villain is Reed.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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