Kelly Scott, former Times arts and tradition editor dies at 68

Kelly Scott, a former Los Angeles Times editor who oversaw arts, tradition and leisure protection for a lot of her 25-year profession on the newspaper, died in Highland Park, Ill., on Jan. 30 of problems associated to thyroid most cancers, in accordance with her household. She was 68.

Scott began at The Times in 1990, steering movie protection as Hollywood productions boomed and the ad-fattened newspaper was close to the height of its cultural affect underneath the possession of the Chandler household. At that time, Times circulation hit an all-time excessive of 1,225,189 every day and 1,514,096 on Sundays, making it the biggest every day metropolitan newspaper within the nation. Just a few days after Scott arrived, newsroom administration handed out espresso mugs emblazoned with “Nation’s Largest Newspaper” and “We’re No. 1,“ she recalled later. By the end of the 1990s, Scott had become Sunday Calendar editor, a coveted role that set the agenda for arts and entertainment coverage.

In later years — after taking a sabbatical as a John S. Knight fellow at Stanford — Scott served as an editor for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, the Home section and the paper’s national desk, where she helped steer coverage of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign. She served a final stint as the Times’ arts and culture editor before taking a buyout and retiring in 2015, leaving as the shrinking newsroom entered its bleakest era under the chain ownership of Tribune Publishing.

Scott traversed that transformative and traumatic epoch in journalism history with a friendly but cool reserve, emerging from a quarter-century at The Times with a reputation for defending her reporters and culture critics. Her height and red hair made her easy to spot across the newsroom, where she often worked late to help put a print edition to bed and to lend a savvy, independent, intellectually curious touch to the paper’s coverage.

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“The arts, and movies too, they basically want you to be their promotional arm. They don’t want you to be critical of them,” mentioned Susan Freudenheim, a former L.A. Times arts editor who labored with Scott, typically jockeying together with her over the identical prime actual property within the print version. “What she did was make really good choices as a news person inside the paper that then made the paper look professional and wise to the outside world.”

Kelly Jane Scott was born July 12, 1954, to John Robert Scott and Joan Boon Scott in Evanston, Ill., in accordance with her household. She grew up within the northern Chicago suburb of Wilmette earlier than graduating from Memorial High School in Houston. She obtained a bachelor’s diploma in journalism on the University of Kansas, the place she was the managing editor of the Daily Kansan.

Her early stops in journalism included a number of years on the St. Petersburg Times in Florida. Although seen by some as shy within the newsroom, she was hard-charging and likewise “so outgoing to her friends,” mentioned her longtime buddy Pat McMahon, a former Los Angeles Times editor who met Scott on the St. Pete Times.

After a stint at Newsday within the late Nineteen Eighties, Scott arrived on the Los Angeles Times and have become “part of a group of young red-hots” that included among the paper’s top-notch reporters at a time when “people were eager to get in the paper,” McMahon mentioned. “The actors and producers and filmmakers, they were all vying to have influence with the arts editors.”

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Scott was often known as a supporter of arts criticism. She typically would give suggestions days after a bit ran, which may really feel like a lifetime within the perpetual churn of a every day information operation, the place tales are sometimes seen as soon as after which by no means once more.

“A newspaper is one of the few places where there’s public dialogue about the arts — it simply acts as a public billboard for the conversation — and she really believed that good critics can lead the conversation and direct the conversation, for good or ill,” mentioned Times artwork critic Christopher Knight. “She was not the sort of editor who tried to lead a critic to water and make him drink. She wanted to hear what the critic had to say, and if it resonated with her, she ran with it.”

Scott married twice, divorced twice and had two kids, Devin and Suzanna, whom she typically took alongside to film and theater premieres.

“She was there for work, but we were able to have fun and see things,” Devin mentioned. “As a kid, I didn’t appreciate how unique that was and how special that was.”

Scott was not a self-promoter — the truth is, she typically was vulnerable to self-deprecation — and her son didn’t absolutely grasp his mom’s skilled abilities as an editor till the time he requested for her assist trying over a university admissions essay.

“It got a little contentious, because I didn’t like every note that she made. She was polite but firm, and of course I knew deep down that she was right, and the essay would be better and my admissions chance would be better if I listened to her,” Devin mentioned. “She was so observant, and she was always sort of more comfortable asking the questions than answering them.”

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Scott was a Bruce Springsteen fan and a canine lover who doted on her golden retriever, Tully, and her Airedale terrier/German shepherd combine, Jake. She additionally grew to become a passionate supporter of the Los Angeles Dodgers throughout her time in L.A., a fixation that adopted her again to her native North Shore in retirement, to the consternation of her Cubs-supporting household.

“She could talk equally with knowledge and brilliance about the Dodgers, as about [conductor Gustavo] Dudamel, as about yesterday’s Marvel movie,” mentioned Freudenheim. “Her last text to me was about the Dodgers pitchers and catchers day coming up in February. This is a person with diverse interests, but depth in all of them.”

Scott is survived by her two kids and her 5 older siblings: Michael Scott, Nancy Beren, Casey Scott, Trish Egan and Tracy Fairman.