OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: NY Critic Rex Reed under fire for Melissa McCarthy remarks

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-02-11T00:00:00Z 2013-02-11T13:49:03Z OFFBEAT: NY Critic Rex Reed under fire for Melissa McCarthy remarksBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

It seems New York media critic Rex Reed is in hot water for some very unflattering and personal remarks about our Chicagoland comedy actress claim-to-fame.

No, not Jane Lynch, who hails from Dolton.

I'm talking about Melissa McCarthy, of TV's "Mike & Molly" and the big screen funny gut-buster "Bridesmaids," and who hails originally from Plainfield, Ill.

It's been a while since I've even heard Reed's name mentioned, although, I always add him in for the daily Celebrity Birthdays listings, when the Associated Press wire service leaves him out.

Reed, who turns 75 this year, is apparently with The New York Observer (I wasn't even certain of his media outlet these days).

The trouble began last week after his published review of "Identity Thief," the new comedy film that opened over the weekend and stars McCarthy opposite Jason Bateman, in which he mocks McCarthy's weight, in addition to panning the film.

It's not just because Reed didn't like the film, since lots of critics didn't care for it.

In his review, Reed refers to McCarthy's weight repeatedly, calling her "hippo" and "tractor-sized" and "a screeching, humongous creep" before continuing on and characterizing her career, which includes an Emmy win for "Mike & Molly" and an Oscar nomination for "Bridesmaids," as "a study in being obese and obnoxious with equal success."

If you're not sure why Reed's name is familiar, he worked as a New York City-based columnist for decades, before becoming a household name when he, along with critic Dixie Whatley, were named the successors to fill Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel's theater seats as the hosts of "At the Movies," when our Chicago critic duo went on to launch their own show with their last names as the show's title. Reed was with "At the Movies" from 1982 to 1990.

 Other than that, he's also known for a stint being an occasional celebrity judge on "The Gong Show" in the 1970s. He also had a primarily role opposite Mae West in one of her final film roles for Gore Vidal's "Myra Breckinridge," in 1970, which also starred Raquel Welch in the title role, along with John Huston, Farrah Fawcett, Roger C. Carmel and Tom Selleck.

Reed has also had his own ups and downs, which is a reason to not throw stones.

After Jack Palance presented the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress to Marisa Tomei in 1992, it was said to be Reed who started a rumor that Palance had erroneously called out the wrong name because he was unable to read the printing on the card inside the envelope, became confused or was too "drunk" or "stoned" to announce the winner properly. By 1997, Reed was espousing on television his claim that a "massive cover-up" was underway to prevent the public from finding out about the mistake.

(Film critic Ebert commented that: "Not only is the rumor untrue, it is unfair to Tomei, and Reed owes her an apology."

The Academy said if such a mistake had occurred, representatives from Price Waterhouse would have stepped onstage to correct it.

And in February 2000, Reed was arrested for shoplifting after leaving a Tower Records in Manhattan, with CDs by Mel Tormé, Peggy Lee and Carmen McRae in his jacket pockets. Reed, who had just purchased two other CDs, said he forgot about the other three CDs and said his offer to pay for them was refused. (The charges were later dropped and Reed claimed that after hearing about the incident, Peggy Lee sent him her entire music catalog.)

McCarthy still has other reasons to smile. "Identity Thief" was the number one box office moneymaker over the weekend, earning $36.6 million.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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