Kang is currently a staff writer at Slate, where she focuses on both television and film. Before that, she was chief television critic at MTV News and TV critic at the Village Voice. She also has been a regular contributing film critic at the Los Angeles Times. A longtime advocate for representation in entertainment, she launched her career as managing editor of the Women and Hollywood blog.
At THR, Kang will write television reviews and critical columns about the rapidly changing TV landscape for digital and print platforms. Kang will start Jan. 6 and report to reviews editor Jon Frosch. She joins chief TV critic Daniel Fienberg on THR's roster of critical voices in television.
“I have long admired Inkoo's bold voice, elegant prose style and razor-sharp insights into both the tiniest details and larger cultural stakes of television today,” says Frosch. “I couldn't be more excited to have her on the team.”
Kang joins THRat a time of growth for the entertainment industry's leading media brand, which includes an award-winning weekly print magazine, the most-read entertainment industry news website and a vibrant offering of events, video and podcasts.
When 'American Ninja Warrior' producer Johnathan Walton began to suspect his best friend — whom he'd loaned nearly $70,000 — was not the royal she claimed, he launched an investigation that uncovered dozens of alleged victims.
The first time Johnathan Walton, 45, met the woman who became his best friend and turned into his worst enemy, she was offering help with his building's pool.
In the spring of 2013, Walton, a producer for unscripted shows including American Ninja Warrior and Shark Tank, and his neighbors at a Bunker Hill apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles, lost access to their stunning pool amid a dispute with another building. When Walton, an earnest and animated former TV news reporter, held a meeting about the incident in his living room, about 30 people showed up.
Walton hadn't yet met one neighbor and attendee, a handsome 40-something woman with jet-black hair and a pixie cut, who soon took charge of the conversation. She was dressed in pastel-colored clothes and shoes that looked high-end and spoke articulately in a voice with the slightest trace of an accent. Her name was Mair Smyth and she was a luxury travel agent. Her boyfriend was a prominent real estate lawyer, she said, and had sued their own apartment complex 'a couple times' and won. He had recommended they start a tenants' association. As the group warmed to the idea, Smyth bantered with neighbors and laughed at Walton's jokes. Almost instantly, she reminded him of Sally Field's pro-union activist character in 1979's Norma Rae: brash, funny and straightforward. He liked her.
This was some time before Smyth, whose full first name Walton later would learn was Marianne, convinced him that she was an Irish heiress who stood to inherit 5 million euros. In time, she would also mention that she was pals with Ashley Judd; show him a closet full of allegedly thousand-dollar designer shoes; and share that she had a psychic gift. It was years before Walton and others began to suspect that all these boasts were lies, part of an elaborate scheme that ensnared several individuals in the entertainment industry, and left Walton filing for personal bankruptcy. 'Back then, I was a different person and I took everything at face value,' he says now. 'That's how they get in your life, they try to help you.'
Smyth, indeed, was a practiced operative. But her success in conning Walton and other individuals in and around Hollywood from at least 2013 to 2017 speaks not just to her skill, but to a shrewd choice of setting. Like many creators and wannabes in entertainment, 'Mair' was boastful and prone to exaggeration, while her marks were too accustomed to white lies to suspect hers might be insidious. Smyth's run in L.A. demonstrates the strange parallels between con artist and Hollywood creator, performer and professional liar. Her underestimation of the storytellers who became her marks, however, also proved to be her downfall.
Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Show: The Secret History of Hollywood
Where You Can Stream It: The podcasting app of your choice.
The Pitch: The Secret History of Hollywood is the most compelling, immersive, and emotional podcast I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. Each season consists of deep dives into a major Hollywood figure, tracing its subject’s rise to prominence and giving incredible insight into their home lives, painting a portrait so captivating and well-rounded that biographies or books on the subjects could only dream to achieve.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Listening: I’ve been thinking about this podcast a lot since I first stumbled across it several years ago, but I think it’s especially appropriate to recommend it right now because some of its episodes are incredibly lengthy – many clock in around an hour and a half, but some of them stretch to four, six, or even nine hours long. Yes, really. Some of you may scoff, but isn’t being in quarantine the perfect time to give a long-form podcast a chance?
Adam Roche, the voice behind the show, had no background in sound editing or sound production when he got started, but he could have fooled me: the series reminds me of an old-time radio show, complete with sound effects and Roche doing voices as he plays the people in a given scene. I realize that may sound cheesy, and it absolutely would be in less-capable hands. But trust me: Roche’s mellifluous voice and incredibly researched accounts are perfect for this type of storytelling.
The show has brought me to tears multiple times over the years, and I think a huge part of the reason for that is because of the long episode lengths. Like a great TV series you never want to end, you get to spend hours and hours with the subjects of these episodes and build emotional connections to them, so when they they experience hardships, a project goes wrong, or they lose a loved one, the results can be unexpectedly powerful.
The show has earned the attention of Hollywood vets like Peter Ramsey Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Mark Gatiss Sherlock, Game of Thrones, the latter of whom lends his own terrific voice to introductions of the most recent season, which covers the prolific producer Val Lewton Cat People, The Body Snatcher, The Ghost Ship. I knew nothing about Lewton or his work before I listened to the eleven episode season, but by the end, I feel like not only do I know all about him, but I feel I’ve experienced his highs and lows right alongside him. It’s truly spellbinding stuff, and it comes with my absolute highest recommendation.