Today, The Hollywood Reporter published a long story about how Ain't It Cool News has gone from the must-read website for nerdy spoilers to a nearly defunct vanity project. It's a sad story, with a sad beginning:
It was July 2012, and Harry Knowles was working up a sweat. Eighteen months earlier, the creator-owner-figurehead of Ain't It Cool News collapsed and had back surgery to treat the effects of spinal stenosis, a chronic condition stemming in part from a 1996 fall that left him intermittently reliant on a wheelchair. So now he was walking on a treadmill at a clinic near his Austin home as part of his physical therapy.
His phone rang. Still trudging, Knowles answered. It was Roland De Noie, his business manager.
"I really f—-ed up," said De Noie in a panic. "It's all my fault." He had discovered that Ain't It Cool News — the website Knowles started in his Texas bedroom that grew to be the scourge of Hollywood, redefined the nature and pace of entertainment journalism and turned an overweight, ginger-haired self-diagnosed movie nerd into the face of a geek nation on the rise — owed about $300,000 in unpaid taxes.
When I first started using the internet on a regular basis, I visited Ain't It Cool News all the time for Buffy the Vampire Slayer spoilers and updates on movie news that I couldn't find anywhere else. Now when I make the occasional visit, it's like dropping by to check in on a high school friend who still lives in his mom's basement.