Josh Rosenblum was expecting to spend three weeks in Charleston writing about Spoleto Festival USA. In years past, the New York musician, playwright, and creator of Bush Is Bad: The Musical has served as the overview critic for The Post and Courier. So he was excited about returning in ’08.
An unceremonious e-mail from the newspaper, however, put the kibosh on that.
“I was told that the managing editor had a different idea on what he wanted to see happen this year,” Rosenblum told me. “Personally, I’m very disappointed. It was a great gig that was too good to be true. I was given the impression that they were very pleased with my work.”
Rosenblum wasn’t given any further details regarding the change of direction. He suspects economic reasons: The paper paid all of his expenses and awarded a per diem.
A call to Stephanie Harvin, the editor who e-mailed Rosenblum with the bad news, was not returned. P&C Managing Editor Steve Mullins told me he didn’t know anything about Rosenblum’s dismissal.
“We have several candidates to consider,” Mullins said during a phone interview recently. “We haven’t signed up anyone yet.”
When told that Rosenblum had already been told he wouldn’t be needed this year, Mullins said, “If he has an e-mail saying that, then that’s fine.”
Mullins added that he would call when the P&C had chosen an overview critic. As of this writing, Mullins has not yet called. When told that Mullins didn’t know anything about his dismissal, Rosenblum was a bit surprised. He said in a follow-up e-mail that the reasons are still likely economic. He added, however, that time would tell.
“If they hire someone local (i.e., someone whose travel, housing, and per diem don’t need to be paid), that means it probably was an economic decision,” he wrote. “If they job in another out-of-towner, however, that means they just wanted someone else, for whatever reason.”
Some might wonder if the paper’s decision to drop Rosenblum had anything to do with his writing the much-celebrated Bush Is Bad: The Musical, a highly critical musical about George W. Bush that is, according to its creator, “bursting with liberal sentiment.”
Its performance in Charleston in the run-up to the 2004 election was hugely successful. But Rosenblum discounts politics.
“I was told the editors didn’t have anything bad to say,” he said. “Besides, everyone despises Bush now.” —John Stoehr