Peter Caranicas Honored with HPA Legacy Award
By Debra Kaufman
Last night, at the 14th annual HPA Awards, veteran journalist Peter Caranicas was honored with the first-ever HPA Legacy Award. Caranicas has covered film, TV, advertising, technology and media as publisher, editor and writer for more than 40 years, currently serving as Deputy Editor at Variety where he focuses on cinematography, production and costume design, sound, editing and visual effects.
Caranicas began his career in 1976 with Video Publisher, a weekly newsletter published by Knowledge Industry Publications, based in White Plains, New York. “I loved the pioneering feeling of covering the birth of a revolution, including the advent of cable, satellite and home video,” he recalls. “I became hooked on all the excitement and its impact on entertainment.” Next, he became part of the team that launched Videography, and served as its editor from 1975 to 1980. For four years, starting in 1982, Caranicas became editor of Millimeter, a Penton Publishing magazine which he says, at the time, was “the monthly bible of professional film and television production and post-production.”
From 1986 to 1989, he was editorial director at View, a group of four trade publications covering TV programming, production and distribution, both domestic and international, followed by two years as editor of the monthly BME, which covered broadcast management and engineering. He later edited Shoot, and became editor/publisher and, later, development director, of Film & Video magazine. Before he joined Variety in 2008, he was editor of Below the Line and editor-in-chief of TVB, a NewBay Media publication.
With a M.Sc. in international relations from the London School of Economics and a B.A. in history from Yale University, Caranicas also gives credit to his mentors in journalism: “New York Times TV correspondent Les Brown, who forecast the role of the media in toppling the Iron Curtain; genius broadcast journalist David Hawthorne, tech guru Mark Schubin who wrote a prescient column for me in the 1970s, and my present boss at Variety Steve Gaydos who every day teaches the value of maintaining the highest of standards in a world that is constantly pressuring people to lower them,” he says.
With such an ambitious, involved career, many in the industry were surprised when, in 1997, Caranicas and his wife dropped out of their professional lives and spent a year traveling around the world with their two children, then aged 9 and 11. “We could see that yet another revolution was taking over – the Internet – which threatened to homogenize all cultures,” he says. “We wanted our family to experience the world’s diversity at that moment in time.”
Now, as a bona fide veteran of the much-evolved changes in the media and entertainment industry, Caranicas notes, “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.” “But I still feel we’re only at the beginning of an interconnected world that will be beyond anything we can imagine today,” he says. “This extends not only to entertainment, communications and social media, but also to areas like transportation, space travel, health, electoral politics and ethics. My first grandchild will be born in 2020. He or she will begin a journey we can only dream about today.”
For young people beginning their careers in journalism, he notes that, “writing and publishing are easier than ever.” “Good writing remains rare and precious,” he says. “Do not be tempted to cut and paste from Wikipedia and IMDB. Do not publish before editing. Check the facts. Get a good editor and follow the example and hard work of your most principled heroes.”
Linda Rosner and Keith Gayhart-Artisans PR
Peter was one of the first editors I met in New York. He was planning a trip around the world with his family for a year! Leaving his career, schooling his children abroad and giving his family a life changing experience. I was in awe. Upon his return, he picked up his career where he left off; why not, he’s good at what he does. When he moved to Los Angeles Peter was again looking at options on how to further his career. It didn’t surprise me that he ended up at one of the most respected entertainment publications in the industry with Variety. When I asked him about moving from various publications when he was working in New York, he talked about gaining experience at each publication and knowing when it was time for him to move on and grow in his career. He was admirably confident, but not conceited. He dealt with my partner Keith Gayhart and I in a warm professional manner. If a story or a pitch worked, he’d run with it, if not, he’d let us know why, and always treated us with respect. We are honored to know and work with Peter Caranicas.
Karen Raz, Raz PR
I have known Peter since my earliest days in this business, and the name Peter Caranicas evokes the same reaction no matter who the conversation is with. “I love Peter, he’s the best.” That was true 20+ years ago, and it’s still true today. It’s a remarkable achievement to maintain a consistent, long-standing career in Hollywood, and in journalism. It’s an equally remarkable achievement to maintain that career while being universally regarded as a kind, respected and much loved human being.
Steven Gaydos, Senior Vice President, Content, Executive Editor, VARIETY
Since I’ve been at Variety longer than some of you reading this have been on earth, I feel qualified to speak about the multitude of funny, creative, hard-working, eccentric, smart folks who’ve passed through these doors during this time and where Peter Caranicas fits into that aforementioned generally motley multitude.
The short explanation: There’s never been anyone like him.
In the old days, which only ended a few weeks before I arrived, Variety journalists called themselves “Muggs.” They clanked out their stories on manual typewriters, had three-martini or three-something lunches, worked a sheet of carbon paper to death and kind of stayed away from the subjects of their stories, just like monks avoided mixing it up with the riff-raff outside their monastery walls.
You’ve heard of “toxic masculinity?” Well this was toxic muggscalinity. For the most part, not too much fun and too often too much bitterness to measure.
In the last 30 years, things got a little more casual, sociable and there’s been more rubbing elbows, but only the chowder-headed among us mistake the conviviality of the showbiz crowd with genuine friendship. Showbizzers are fakes. Talented and hard-working. Often immeasurably so. But generally only fairweather pals with those chumps in the press who can help them score honors or jobs or both.
Then came Peter.
His main beat is what the industry calls “below the line.” but what Variety more elegantly and accurately deems “The Artisans.”
Peter’s passion for their crafts and his knowledge of same helped turn those hard-edged “What can you quid pro quo for me lately?” hearts into lumps of soft butter. This feat of Greek magic is aided in no small measure by the man’s intelligence, schooling, dignity, charm and general decency. Finding any of those qualities in a journalist in this town gets you to the front of the queue, do not pass go, do not collect your per diem. Finding all of these qualities in one soft-spoken, no b.s., high-minded wordsmith is probably just too immobilizing to resist.
So he’s made friends of technicians and pals of mouthpieces. The legal community became an additional beat as did the world of business managers. Now consider this last batch of industryites would be known anywhere other than showbiz as “accountants.” But Peter brings out the poet and the pal in number-crunchers just as he has with folks who focus on focus as well as the astounding maestros of sound and design, costuming, grooming, styling, plus the digital imaging magic-makers who create the worlds that Martin Scorsese has been carping about lately.
Speaking of which, if the biz ever wants someone to referee a conversation between Kevin Feige and Martin Scorsese, there’s one guy to call.
He speaks several languages, and knows both sides of the camera, but more importantly he is fluent in one essential tongue: Truth.
And he is coming from one essential place: The Heart.
And if any of this sounds like exaggeration or hyperbole, just ask around the Variety newsroom. “Is there anyone in here that everyone out there actually likes and respects?”
That answer will be “PC” and that’s not politically correct, that’s Peter Caranicas.
I first knew Peter when he was at Knowledge Industry Publications, and I was one of his sources. He contacted me when he was starting Videography magazine (which the Oxford English Dictionary cited as the source of the word). He wanted me to do an equipment-review column. I didn’t want to, because I was in a position of begging manufacturers for assistance for TV shows for my non-profit clients, and they might not want to help if I gave a bad review. I suggested a column on video research, and Peter accepted, kicking off my long career as a trade journalist. With other columns on Washington, consumer electronics, and even video art, Peter shaped the industry. I’m honored to have been associated with him.
Peter Caranicas is so rightfully receiving the HPA Legacy Award! Congratulations, Peter!
Peter and I first met when he flew from NY to LA to interview me for Film & Video magazine. Toward the end of the interview, he asked if I would be able to attend NAB for F&V in Las Vegas the following week. I said, “ I love NAB and am already registered.” He later told Carolyn Giardina, Film & Video’s editor, that she and I would become good friends because we both wore black and loved NAB. Little did Peter or any of us know that twenty years later the team he put together at F&V would remain great friends who shared with one another our personal and professional challenges and achievements throughout the years. I was thrilled when Peter and Carolyn moved to LA, each finding a home at Variety (Peter) and The Hollywood Reporter (Carolyn). And when Peter met and married Manny, we were all happy that his personal life was now as full and wonderful as his professional one. Peter’s leadership skills and his warm and engaging personality helped form our Film &Video team’s unbreakable bond. He was, is, and shall always be our beloved leader! Our F&V team: Peter, Carolyn Giardina, Scott Lehane, Andrea Korpita Dowd, Naida Albright, Mimi Rossi, and me, Ellen Galvin. We love you, Peter!