Monday, May 4, 2009

The Apatow Machine

I've had the pleasure of encountering the Apatow bunch a couple of times in a couple of different permutations, including the phoner with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. I got to meet the whole bunch together, including the mastermind man himself, at the junket for Knocked Up way back when--in 2007.

Interestingly, what was most notable about this junket was not so much the Apatow bunch as the fact that Britney Spears chose to drive in at the very same time that I was leaving. And this was exciting because this was during the height of her crazy period and the paparazzi were going insane. She had her (tinted) window rolled down, so obviously she wanted them to get a picture of her. But they chased in this crazy mob, which was actually really scary. And then when she went inside, they actually came to blows with the hotel's staff. As I was walking in a minute later, I could hear the hotel workers talking, clearly quite shaken up by the whole event. I felt really bad for them, and now can tell you first hand that paparazzi are frigging terrifying.

As for the junket itself, there were two press conferences. Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd in one, which was pretty exciting because I have had a crush on Paul Rudd since Clueless. I controlled my desire to tell him this. Also, he is short. But still cute and funny. Leslie Mann, on the other hand, is insanely gorgeous. As gorgeous as she looks on screen, multiply that times 4 zillion in person. She is like an amazing porcelain doll, that likes to say 'fuck'. I actually had a phoner with her later, I think when Knocked Up came out on DVD, and she was fairly reserved on the phone. Obviously she has to do this stuff all the time; actress, Judd Apatow's wife, etc. It was pretty de rigeur, but goddamn in person - wow.

The second press conference was Judd and Seth, so they were both quite funny. This was at the time that Judd Apatow was just about to take over the universe - people didn't QUITE know his name the way they do now. Knocked Up is what tipped him over the edge. But he's a cool guy. And Seth Rogen is like the most humble dude in the universe. This was also before he lost all the weight. But anyhow, you get why they like each other. They both do good work, and are doing well, but their heads are on as straight as possible given the circumstances, which is impressive.

Then I left and got caught in the Britney madness. Madness.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sweet Jesus

One of my first ever TV spots was to cover Nativity Story, which was not surprisingly a take on the nativity by director Catherine Hardwicke - now of Twilight fame. The movie itself was okay -- coming from the POV of someone without a lot of nativity comparisons.

The TV spot, I thought, went okay. I was informed by my editor I was mistaken. First, I incorrectly assumed it was going to be a one-camera set up. It was a very small movie, so I thought the publicity would only have the budget to do just the camera on the talent and not also have a camera set on me. Second, most of my compatriots on the web world were not the types to dress up. So I didn't either. My lovely editor informed me this made me look like shit.

In case you can't tell, my lovely editor was an asshole. This is not just my opinion; this is actual fact. Okay, this might be an exaggeration, but let's just say no one who has worked with him ever wants to work with him again. So I call that fact.

Asshole or not, I will say he was right - you should get gussied up for on-camera (presuming they are going to cut back to you and not just use clips of the talent only), and since you never can tell if they are going to spring for the two-camera set up, well, you have to be on the safe side and load up on the gussy before you get there. Still, Fuckwit Editor did also manage to make me even more neurotic about my appearance, which I sure as shit did not need.

In case you care, I interviewed Oscar Isaac and Shohreh Aghdashloo in addition to Catherine Hardwicke that day. Everyone was very nice. Hardwicke was pretty low key; she was definitely perkier when I had the Twilight phoner with her. I get the picture she's a pretty unique bird. Isaac was a young guy who hadn't done much of anything, so predictably he was very happy and nice and gracious and mostly just thrilled to be there, I'm assuming. I informed him he made a very hot Joseph, which he clearly found amusing. Shohreh was absolutely the sweetest thing ever. She was lovely and beautiful and so sweet and warm to me, and did not make me feel bad at all that I was not properly gussied. I will take her home with me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Some Kind of Wonderful

The other excitement of my recent Cake Eaters junket was interviewing Mary Stuart Masterson, who directed the movie. Like many people of my age, Some Kind of Wonderful was a seminal movie during my upbringing. I resisted the urge, however, to ask her how enjoyable it was on a scale of 1-10 to make out with Eric Stoltz.

Mary Stuart Masterson was, in person, a little more feminine than I think you'd expect--if by feminine you mean she was wearing a flowy flowery bohemian type shirt and some dangly jewelry, which I do. She basically looked exactly like she used to (hair a little longer than, you know, when she was a tomboy drummer), but slightly older. Mostly she's aging very very well. Also, unlike people who put their middle name or whatever into their stage name for SAG purposes (this means you, Philip Seymour Hoffman), MSM officially goes by Mary Stuart. Fascinating.

The most exciting part of the interview for me was when someone brought up the fact that the movie dealt with an older 20-something guy dating a high school age girl. I informed the table that my husband had referred to it as 'The best movie about statutory rape he'd ever seen," and was rewarded with a huge laugh. The writer (who was on the phone for the interview) suggested they put that on the poster. Ah, Mary Stuart Masterson thinks I am hilarious.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Natasha Richardson

According to the news, poor Natasha Richardson was laid to rest yesterday in upstate New York. I never interviewed her, so I can't add my two cents of--yes, she was lovely--like I'm sure most people who met her can. I interviewed her sister, Joely Richardson, who looked at me very compassionately as she sat next to an ornery Timothy Hutton for a TV spot at The Last Mimzy junket. And I sat next to her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, during the roundtable for Evening, and remember thinking to myself how classy she was and more importantly, Jesus she looks good.

Josh and I were on our semi-annual family ski trip in Colorado, skiing ourselves the day that Natasha Richardson took her fall in Montreal. Having skied my whole life, I was initially very confused as to how on earth she should have hurt herself so badly on a beginner's slope. But I can only guess she must have gotten up a hell of a lot of speed for quite a dramatic fall, considering that the ski patrol had to come for her and then sled her down, and then, of course, the ultimate result. 

All I know is that for our anniversary this year, Josh got ski helmets for both of us--adamant that we were both going to break out heads and die. Being from, as another friend put it, the last generation of people who didn't use helmets for anything, I was only persuaded to wear mine by the fact that Josh got ones with ipod hookups. I will say that mine was very comfortable, warm, made wearing goggles comfortable for the first time in my 30 years of skiing, and of course I loved the ipod hookup.

In light of what happened to Natasha Richardson, it seems like an extra smart move on Josh's part and now I shall recommend doing the same to all skiers out there. You can get cheap helmets with ipod hookups. I recommend you do it. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Twilight of my life

Last week I did a junket for a little indie called The Cake Eaters, which featured a relatively unknown actress at the time it shot--Kristen Stewart, now of Twilight superstardom. 

The illustrious Ms. Stewart (better known to psychotic Twihards as Bella Swan) had never particularly impressed me. I'd seen her in a couple of things and she'd seemed to have a rather harsh quality to her. Plus, she's gotten a shit-ton of negative press over a less than grateful/gushing attitude about Twilight and its ravenous fans.

So, in short, I fully expected her to be a bitch. I am pleased (for her) to announce that she was not. She wasn't bursting with Disney goodness and offering to bake us cookies or anything--far from it. She was smart, intense, and a little nervous--saying that she'd heard us all laughing before she came in when we were doing the previous round of interviews and was worrying that they'd be a tough act to follow (and she seemed to actually mean it). She was clearly physically tense--kind of caved in on herself, and shaking her leg the whole time.

BUT, and this is a big but, she actually laughed once or twice and when we asked a couple of obligatory Twilight questions she didn't tell us into which orifice we could shove them. That is what surprised me. She was actually, weirdly, almost better able to answer those questions than the ones about the movie she just did because she's obviously a little humble about her work and doesn't like to sit there and be like, 'Oh I am so amazing, yes I am very talented,' which is also nice.

Her costar, btw, Aaron Stanford, whom I hadn't really seen before (evidently he was Pyro in X-Men, amongst other things) was a really easy going and funny, nice guy. She obviously was very comfortable with him, and I think he went a bit of a way to chill her out.

I guess the bottom line is this: Kristen Stewart is a bit of a serious, intense, Daria type.She can come across as a little prickly or defensive, but I got the impression that there was the hope that that covered a thoughtful person instead of a self-important bitch. After all, she is just a 19-year-old dealing with insane fan and press attention, and that is enough to scare the bajeesus out of anyone. But in person, at least when I met her, she may not have been a teddy bear, but it wasn't the diva-tude I expected. Two points for Missy K.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sandra Bullcock

People love to ask who the craziest/meanest/bitchiest person you've interviewed was. My go-to answer, as is not surprising these days, and as I have mentioned before is Christian Bale. But in addition, another colorful character I encountered was the interesting Ms. Sandra Bullock.

This was a couple of years ago, at the junket for her winter thriller flop Premonition (I actually didn't think it was that bad, but that is surely due to low expectations). First, the junket consisted of roundtables--for writer Bill Kelly and co-star Julian McMahon. Kelly has faded from my memory such that if he walked into my house and sat on my face, I'd be like, 'Who are you?' And perhaps, also, 'What are you doing in my house? And, for that matter, on my face?'

Julian McMahon was a little more memorable--likely especially to the other junket journos moreso than I. McMahon is one of the dishy docs (or whatever) from Nip/Tuck, which I personally have never watched. However, the room was filled with a batch of menopausal women journos who were absolutely faint with their last good estrogen high of their lives at his presence. He arrived a few minutes late, promptly apologized (like a nice, polite person) for the traffic or whatever bullshit that made him late, and then promptly enraptured the sewing circle with his Australian accent, blue eyes and humble yet flirty demeanor (this guy is, I think, from the George Clooney school of, What? Who? Me? Hot? Nah. ... Want to take your pants off?). The women tittered and giggled and everyone was happy.

Then they shuffled us to the big rooms for a press conference, because evidently Ms. Bullock is too amazing to sit with us plebes in a roundtable like everyone else on her film. Let me put it to you this way--sometimes there are press conferences, sometimes there are roundtables. Generally, the smaller the movie or smaller-name the talent, the more likely you are to get a roundtable or a 1:1 interview. However, it's not a hard and fast rule. And sometimes you get roundtables for movies like Hairspray and interview John Travolta from 1 foot away. But this is absolutely the only time that I have ever experienced a combination of both, which is obviously indicative that the rest of the talent was cool enough to do roundtables but Ms. B was like, 'Me? At a roundtable? HELL NO. They will all perish from my greatness if they get this close.'

So, rather than slumming it, we were broken out into two large press conference rooms, which also meant that since she was the only talent for the press conferences, that one room would have to wait the half hour or whatever and go second. Which sucks, and was made worse by the fact that she was also late. And didn't apologize. And then acted like a attitudinal maniac when she got there.

Okay, maybe that is slightly harsh. But let's just say, she did not give me the warm fuzzies. Someone asked her a question about children/being a mother/blah blah, which, as you will know from previous posts, makes sense because in this movie she is a mother and the convention is you can get away with asking these questions in this circumstance. She was not having it. She yelled at us for being inappropriately interested in her reproductive organs (perhaps true, but as I have also said before you can dispense with that politely). Then she went onto some insane tangent about how her step children are her children (ok), she is a mother (all right), doesn't need children to come out of her womb to make her their mother (true, I guess), the world should adopt more (well, yes...), and they should do better interviews of people who are parents to make them better parents and if we all just started paying attention to our neighbors and taking care of them the world would finally be a good place (um...). Or something. It was a tirade, it was off point, and it got, how do you say, ranty and bitchy and, well, crazy.

In short, America's Sweetheart had an edge to her, and not a soft peachy one, either. Which makes sense, all told, since the day before when I was doing my research on her discovered that someone had enjoyed themselves on her Wikipedia page, peppering the entry with references to her as Sandra 'Bullcock' and slipping in that in high school she was voted 'most likely to bang your dog.' IMO, she kind of deserved it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Old Boss, hanging out a shingle

Today's post is not going to be about marvelous famous people, but more the business of the business. So you true star-effers out there who read only to find out if Jennifer Aniston has man hands can just hit the snooze button until next time. Sorry, but that's just the way it is.

As I believe I have mentioned before, my old company is heading quickly for that good night. Like many of its former employees, I have a lot of unflattering things to say about how they ran their business (I, like many, also had these things to say while I was there). I cannot be and am not entirely sour on them because they did give me my foot in and two years of glorious, easy fun. A job that literally made my jaw hang open the first few days in the office, terrific friends, travel, and for the first time in my life a career I actually cared about. It is a luxury I will seek to repeat for the rest of my life. Like I always said, 'Terrible company, wonderful job.'

But now said company is reaping the benefits of what it sowed. And by that I mean last week their second major round of layoffs finally came to fruition. You see, in case you weren't sure that their heads were up their asses, they laid off about 60 people a couple of months ago. However, not being a California-based company, they were evidently unaware that if you lay off that many people (I can't recall if it is a solid number or a percentage of your workforce) in California, you have to give a thing called, 'mourning pay', i.e. you can tell everyone they are being fired, but you still have to keep them around for about 60 days, thereby totally screwing your desperate money-saving measure to begin with. So, that happened two months ago, wiping out my surviving former web coworkers and a lot of other good people with it. But the poor fuckers had to sit around like lame ducks in limbo for 2 whole months doing their job so they didn't get fired outright and then lose their severance and unemployment, all the while knowing their days were numbered. Pretty glum.

A month ago said company made another delightful announcement: they were picking up roots and relocating the entire operation to New Mexico. Obviously. Because that is definitely where you should go when you are a network based on the movie industry. This move is basically characteristic of the foolish decisions that were made all along. The Powers That Be were evidently acting on some major tax incentives to bring entertainment-related industry to NM, which is delightful in the short-run, but to anyone with an IQ higher than Forrest Gump's it is obviously a terrible idea if you have any desire for the company itself to succeed in the long run. Perhaps that is not their plan, in which case it makes total sense.

Regardless of the why, it was decisions like this that made those of us in the trenches absolutely insane from day to day. But unfortunately, with the economy as it is, the Powers That Be are now able to blame their failing enterprise on the current financial climate instead of the terrible choices they have made all along--thereby depriving the (literally) hundreds of solid workers they'd hired in LA of the satisfaction of at least knowing that somewhere in their hearts they had to, as Michael Jackson put it, face the man in the mirror and realize they fucked up.

Meanwhile, this desperate Hail Mary of theirs effectively pink-slipped the entire rest of the workforce. I'm not certain how many, if any, of them were given the opportunity to stay on with the company and relocate. Actually, I believe they were were told they could look on the corporate website and see what positions they were hiring for in New Mexico and then apply. Oh yes. You read me right: they were allowed to APPLY FOR THEIR OWN JOBS. Now if that isn't respect for you, I don't know what is.

This move is so terrible that even the nearly retirement-aged cronies that have been riding the corporate coattails of said company for decades have opted to abandon ship and go their own in this horrible economy. It is truly staggering.

As for me, I'm experiencing the delights of freelancing in this climate. Considering that the media is actively hemorrhaging employees on a daily basis, it's not as easy as it once was. But stuff floats around here and there, unemployment is a blessing, and I am working on things in my lovely basement. In the meantime, I look forward to the time in the future when we can look back on the Great Recession of the New Millennium and say, 'Oh, remember that winter in 2009 when I ate nothing but shoelaces for an entire month? Good times.'