This time, the fault does lie in our stars

What happened to the movie stars? Not the ones on the screen (although that's a question for another time), the ones that used to be in Tempo after the brief descriptions of the movies.

Like a lot of movie-goers, I used to see how many stars a film got before wasting my time (and money) to go to the theater. Were the stars removed as some sort of under-the-table arrangement with the movie studios? if so, I hope you got paid well.

— A Tempo reader

Dear reader, if only we here at the SYA World Headquarters Department of Astronomy and Film Criticism did get something under the table ... beyond a kick in the shins. Then we wouldn't have to share our tale of woe concerning the movie star ratings.

Alas and alack, such is not the case, so here goes.

The Mail Tribune's contract expired with the syndicated service which provided us with star ratings from Chicago Sun-Times reviewer Richard Roeper, and before him the late, legendary Roger Ebert. Not only did Tempo run the reviews from both, but they provided nearly all the stars used at the end of what we call the film capsules.

Tempo now runs reviews from a variety of sources — including the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Orlando Sentinel, the Los Angeles Times, the Fresno Bee and the McClatchy Tribune News Service — depending on which paper has reviewed the films opening in the Rogue Valley.

Each review comes with its own star rating, which can confuse the issue when the reviewers often don't always agree with each other. The value of those stars diminishes, obviously, when there isn't one clear voice behind them. That was the strength of having access to reviewers such as Ebert and Roeper.

And thus, dear reader, it was either bombard you with several voices — some of which you might not agree with or trust to assign stars — or proceed with the star-less film capsules.

It's not as intriguing (or lucrative) an answer as a Hollywood conspiracy, but clearly it's so mundane that it has to be true. And, as with all editorial decisions, this one is subject to review.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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