Thursday, February 22, 2018
“Vietnam” Filmmaker Cast as Victim For Not Being as Famous as Ken Burns

WASHINGTON, D.C.  Sept. 21 (DPI) – As the PBS documentary “Vietnam” captivates the American public, The Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg came up with an odd take on co-director Lynn Novick’s fame, or lack of it.

Many readers who elected to comment on Rosenberg’s piece – headlined “Ken Burns and Lynn Novick directed the Vietnam War together. Why is only one of them famous?” – said they thought it was a stupid question.

The 64-year-old Burns practically founded the genre of the serious, slow-paced but incisive and historically accurate television documentary. The 55-year-old  Novick began as an apprentice to Burns, and over the years has been sharing credit with Burns for the last several documentaries they’ve produced together.

In fact, while the headline suggests an anti-woman conspiracy, Rosenberg makes little case for it.  She focuses instead on how the documentary filmmakers put together the 10-part series, which is being hailed as brilliant and the best documentary since Burns’s “The Civil War” in 1990.

It turns out that Burns, while suffering from kidney stones, was unable to travel to Vietnam, leaving to Novick the task of gathering interviews of Vietnamese war veterans and others.

But overall, Post writer Rosenberg generated scant evidence to support the idea that Novick has been short-shrifted or ignored by the media, now or in the past. And readers by and large agreed that, while the documentary series is a tremendous collaboration, the suggestion that Novick unfairly gets less credit is silly.

Three of the top most-liked comments:

You posit the question “Why is only one of them famous?” and then detail how Burns- an established filmmaker- took her under his wing and let her develop into a director at Florentine Films. Her work is stellar, but his was long before she had ever made a film. That’s why. He is the master and she was the apprentice who along the way has become an accomplished director. We will see how she does without him and will find out if she too has become a master.

I am enjoying this series of reviews. However, I feel that Ms. Rosenberg is being a little ridiculous with this fame issue. Ken Burns became famous with The Civil War, which was produced for all intents and purposes before Ms Novick arrived. There seems to be little evidence in this piece that he has obstructed her career in any way. She certainly has received much deserved credit for Vietnam along with Burns.
I get the idea from the article title that Ms. Rosenberg is applying some insinuation of sexual political put down to Burns and think that this detracts from an article that could have been a simple celebration of Ms. Novick’s talent.

I don’t see a shred of the injustice here that the author implies. For one thing, Mr. Burns is sharing the marquee with her – which is probably appropriate given her role. It is also an act of class by Mr. Burns, whose body of works goes back to the 80s.
Really, Ms. Rosenberg, this kind of “Woman-Isn’t-As-Famous” crap so consciously promotes your victimized-feminist-sister narrative that, well, you are simply bringing Ms. Novick down.

Notably, there is not a single reference (as of today at least) to Novick on Burns’s Wiki Page, while there are several references to Burns on Novick’s brief Wiki page.





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