Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Batman is nuts

So yesterday I had a phoner for Felon, a little indie movie about a normal guy with a happy life who winds up going to prison and the truth about what it's like in prison and how it corrupts you and all that. I would know more about it, but I haven't even screened the movie yet, which pretty rarely happens before you do press for something, but hey, whatever.


So, it happens that they offer us phoners with the talent, in this case Stephen Dorff (remember him?) and Val Kilmer. I ask for a phoner with Stephen Dorff, because although Val Kilmer is more exciting, Dorff has upcoming projects that are more relevant to work so I can get a scoop sort of article from that. But once I say, 'Yes, I can cover, Dorff please' they inform me that it's actually going to be a teleconference and not a straight up phoner.

I've not done a teleconference interview format before, so I ask how it works and am told that everyone on the phone will get their chance to ask individual questions, so it will be just like having a 1:1 phoner. Okay, fine. As long as I can get scoop, all's well.

First, I call in at the appointed time and have all sorts of issues actually getting through like I'm supposed to. Once I manage that, I and my other online on-phone compatriots are informed that we are actually being teleconferenced into the radio interviews that are happening at the press day (which I believe was in New York).

Note: Unless you are in radio, you do not ever want to be in a radio room because they are recording the sound for broadcast, which means that dare you sneeze, rustle a paper, or generally move your eyeballs too loudly you are going to get chewed out by irate radio people. We all know how good I am at staying still/quiet, so I generally avoid the radio room whenever possible, and thus my knowledge of the punitive ways of radio people is only heresay. But nonetheless.

So, we are informed that we should mute our phones since the radio people are recording, which is fine by me as my next door neighbor who owns the usually vacant shack next to me chooses this moment to show up and do yard work, making Big go insane and bark his head off. Awesome.

Then they introduce the director, which is amusing, as I didn't sign up to talk to the director, but it appears that I will indeed be doing the full compliment of press for the movie in lieu of the actual one person I requested. This isn't a huge deal -- stuff like this happens all the time, causing me long ago to realize I had to wholeheartedly abandon my 'I've got my vision for how this is going to go entrenched in my head and now that you want to change the plans I am going to go apeshit' mentality or else I was going to lose my mind.

So, fine, rolling with the punches, I pull up my near-death computer and squeeze out the last remaining drops of function in it to get some info on the director for when I am called upon by the phone moderator or whomever to ask whatever generic question I can that won't give away that I haven't seen the movie yet. I assume this is what is going to be happening since, you know, I was assured that it will basically 'be just like a 1:1 phoner anyhow.'

Not so much. The 15ish minutes go by without a peep from any of the other phone people or any indication that anyone knows we're there, let alone cares that we might need to ask questions. The radio people are just firing away their questions, the director is answering, and then I hear a publicist say their interview is done and now Stephen Dorff is coming in.

Excellent. Now, as we must be the 'Stephen Dorff' conference callers, I presume someone is going to say something about the fact that we are on the phone. But no, not so much. The interview with Stephen Dorff goes on just as the one with the director did, with the radio people piping in with a question as soon as they get a chance and without anyone indicating we are there, perhaps needing something, etc. Without the visual cues as to what's going on in the room, I am asea, essentially unable to unmute and butt in at an appropriate time. I can't quite see when Dorff is going to wind down, when someone is going to pipe up, etc.

It is at this point that the next door neighbor (I assume) chooses to ring my doorbell, likely to respond to a note I left him asking if I could put some gravel down between our driveway and his house (either that or the Prophet Elijah was coming over). Big loses his mind and barks up yet another storm, and because I am taking my job seriously (even though I am being ignored), I run into my room and hide.

Luckily, Dorff starts bringing up his other projects that he's working on, including the one I need to ask about (he's in the John Dillinger biopic, Public Enemies, with Johnny Depp). Surely, I can count on one of these other radio people to take the bait. We all need scoop after all. NOPE. The morons just plow on, asking shitty personal questions about does he have a feud with Jeremy Piven or some crap like that. I still can't figure out when to jump in, and then the publicist comes and ends it. I am not amused.

Then, Val Kilmer comes in and even though I am thinking I can't use the interview, I decide to stay on the phone anyway. I mean, how often does one get to chat with Val Kilmer, or eavesdrop on him chatting with other people, or whatever? I was a Real Genius fan, a Doors fan, after all.

So, he's talking, about the movie, about his white linen suit, about having to lose weight for some movie, etc. etc. and then all of a sudden he realizes there is a teleconference phone in the room and he loses his mind. He starts yelling into the phone 'HELLO! WHO ARE YOU?' -- in an amused, screwing with us sort of way, not an 'I'm going to trash my hotel room because I can' sort of way. But still.

He goes back to answering questions, sounding generally happy/drunk/nutty, reliving the good old days when he did Tombstone, telling us how he called Kurt Russell 'concrete head', telling us how much he adores name-dropping, mentioning how he is BFFs with Bob Dylan. But he just can't forget about the starphone. He is obsessed with the stinking star phone, fascinated by who could be out there. Periodically, he picks it up and yells into is some more, claiming that he is taking off his clothes, he is nude, he wants to know who we are, etc.

I contemplated unmuting and putting him out of his starphone-induced misery because THIS time I had an obvious easy moment to jump in. Except the thing is, I hadn't seen the movie, and I didn't have any informed enough questions, so I didn't want to, you know, call attention to myself in quite that way. 'Yes, I'm Heather, I'm with ReelzChannel, and how was working with the monkey? What? There was no monkey? Oh, um...' That, and it pretty quickly would have turned the whole interview into him talking to me, and unlike the radio people, I didn't want to waste their time with unusable stuff. So I didn't. I stayed quiet. But Val Kilmer was amusing anyway. Totally insane, but amusing.

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