July 2, 2007, - 5:40 pm

Joel Siegel, Z ” L*: Movie Critic Stood Up Against Depravity

By Debbie Schlussel
As you probably know by now, ABC’s “Good Morning America” film critic Joel Siegel died on Friday at the age of 63 of colon cancer.
Although I did not know Joel, nor did I always agree with his movie reviews, he seemed like a very decent and classy guy. And I had a very positive exchange with him over our movie reviews, last year. He walked out of the screening of the sequel to Clerks, “Clerks II” because it was so disgusting. I wrote a review column on the movie, entitled, “Joel Siegel Was Right: Clerks II is Depraved Monument to Decline of Civilization.” Joel walked out of the movie when characters talked about paying a woman to perform oral sex on a donkey (they sanitized this outrage with the PC term “interspecies erotica”). I wish I’d walked out at that point, too. I admired this multi-talented, bright former Martin Luther King organizer, RFK joke-writer, and creator of Baskin-Robbins flavor names, for having the good sense and the morals to speak out against depravity–something you don’t see much in today’s movie critics who accept it as the norm and thus legitimize it.

joelsiegel.jpg

Joel Siegel, Z”L

I sent Joel the column and he responded. He asked me to keep his e-mail private. But since he, sadly, is no longer with us, and since it is a positive manifestation of his moral compass, I reprint it, below:

—– Original Message —–
From: Siegel, Joel S Joel.S.Siegel@abc.com
To: Debbie Schlussel
Sent: Monday, July 24, 2006 11:52 AM
Subject: RE: Clerks II – Debbie Schlussel
thanks. i’m kind of proud of myself.
i heard that dialogue, figured there’s no way i’m reviewing this on morning tv. and no way i want to stick around to see if they
actually do these things.

Another thing I liked about Joel was his brashness and forthrightness. Like me, he was not afraid to offend Hollywood’s big names, even atop the ABC movie review perch. Siegel once said he could not understand the appeal of Matthew McConaughey (I agree):

The appeal of Matthew McConaughey has long evaded me both as a pinup and as an actor. His constant ticks, bad hair and strained syntax as a coach fumble what should have been the tragic and inspirational story of the rebuilding of Marshall University’s football team after a devastating plane crash [in last year's "We Are Marshall."]“

The moustachioed Siegel was relatively very young, and his colon cancer could have been eradicated completely, had he been screened for it and gotten the test when he was 50, instead of 53. He wanted others to get their colonoscopies younger than he did, and since my grandfather died of the same at an even younger age, I think that’s sound advice. And if you do one thing to remember Joel Siegel, do that–get your colonoscopy regularly, once you reach the required age. After Siegel finally got his, he bought himself another ten years of life, even if they were sometimes painful (as he said on TV).
Read Harry Shearer’s and Roger Ebert’s touching remembrances of Joel Siegel.
Joel Siegel, *Zichrono LiVrachah–Blessed Be His Memory.

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4 Responses

Followed Joel Siegel for years on local NYC TV newscasts. A positive entity. God bless him.

FreethinkerNY on July 2, 2007 at 7:07 pm

I also remember Joel Siegel from his New York City days as a movie reviewer on the ABC local news.
I once suggested a “Big Apple” ice cream flavor to Ben & Jerry’s (apples, cinnamon, nuts, possibly raisins), but I never heard back.
Siegel worked for Baskin-Robbins, NOT Ben & Jerry’s.
http://www.nndb.com/people/490/000024418/
Joel Siegel
AKA Joel E. Siegel
Born: 7-Jul-1943
Birthplace: Los Angeles, CA
Died: 29-Jun-2007
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: Cancer – Colon
Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Critic
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Film critic
As a copywriter as Carson/Roberts Advertising in Los Angeles, Siegel named the following ice cream products for client Baskin-Robbins: German Chocolate Cake, Peaches & Cream, Pralines & Cream, Blueberry Cheesecake, Strawberry Cheesecake, Green Cheesecake, Red, White and Blueberry, and Chilly Burgers.
BARRY:
ROGER EBERT WROTE THAT IT WAS BEN & JERRY’S.
http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070629/PEOPLE/70629001
THAT’S WHERE I GOT IT FROM. LOOKS LIKE HE WAS WRONG AND YOU ARE RIGHT! GOOD CATCHING THE MISTAKE. I’M CHANGING THE ENTRY. GOOD TO HEAR THAT IT WASN’T B&J, WHOM I DETEST.
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

barrypopik on July 2, 2007 at 9:24 pm

RIP, Mr. Siegel.
And hurray that someone else hates Clerks! I walked out on Clerks I and refused to even consider II. And I have a master’s degree in film. Those films STINK and try to win us over by being “transgressive”–talking dirty.

PJ on July 2, 2007 at 9:55 pm

I’m another who remembers both Joel’s NY days and his “Good Morning America” days. He had guts with some movie reviews that few have. RIP, will miss…..

hairymon on July 3, 2007 at 2:38 pm

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