To the editor:
Though Patrick Z. McGavin's article on the Chicago Film Critics Association ("Circle of Friends," Our Town, March 6) accurately reflects my misgivings about the organization, it leaves the mistaken impression that a main reason I've dropped out is due to the board's refusal to take a stand on free-speech controversies that I have brought before them in my role as chairman of the group's artists' rights committee (aka the Zappa Committee). In fact, the board has never refused to take a stand on such issues, frankly, because I've never brought them up.
Whatever faults the organization may have, lack of action on Zappa Committee issues is not one of them. That problem rests squarely on my shoulders and has to do with personal reasons wholly unrelated to the critics' association.
My beef with the organization is the result of a growing impression that it exists primarily to serve the interests of the public relations firms associated with it and only occasionally the needs and interests of the critics whose name it bears. In fairness to the group's president, Dann Gire, and its vice president, John Petrakis, both have worked hard behind the scenes to resolve some of the problems mentioned in the article, usually to no avail however.
I hope that one day the Chicago Film Critics Association will indeed resemble the "community of critics" Michael Wilmington spoke of (the group doesn't even hold regular meetings). Until the organization is willing to redefine its mission and its priorities in favor of its own members, though, I'm afraid that this "community" won't stand a chance.