Monday, July 21, 2008

Popping the cherry

My first ever junket was about 1 day after I started my job. When I first got my job, my friend, John, who hired me basically told me I'd be doing movie reviews. He didn't think I'd want the job because I was trying to screenwrite, but you've got to do something to pay the bills until you become Diablo Cody.

At the interview with the rest of the guys on the team, my would-be boss told me I would probably be doing some celebrity interviews, possibly print, possibly on-camera. Down the road there might be some set visits, too. I actually think John may have mentioned this to me, too, but somehow it hadn't sunk in. And still, when they mentioned that at the interview I didn't believe it.

Before I even start I'm getting emails with invites to junkets and screenings and whatnot. The actual day before I start, I get a phone call from my boss saying he wants me to do the TV interviews for The Dead Girl, a little indie starring Brittany Murphy, Giovanni Ribisi and a bunch of others. I'm supposed to screen the movie the next day (i.e. my first day), and then do the interview on my second.

I am floored. So, my first day comes and goes. My jaw is literally hanging open with every new thing the guys tell me. Yes, you're allowed to take a friend with you to screenings. Yes, you get swag at junkets. Yes, you will be interviewing famous people. Yes, it does rain gold on Fridays in Los Angeles. It was truly wonderful.

My second day of work I drive over to the hotel where the junket is going to be. My boss meets me to sort of coach me through things. The boys have told me little tricks--ask weird a weird question or two if you can, since they're getting the same questions all day. Just nod in response, don't say 'mmmhmmm, uhuh' because if the camera is on them then it's just your disembodied voice saying those things and that's weird, etc. Ok, fine.

My boss has me go in and watch a friend of his do her interviews so I can just make sure I have the drill down and then I'm off. I'm sweating bullets. I am about to meet my first famous person, and I do not under any circumstances want to offend them.

My first famous person it turns out is Giovanni Ribisi. I tell him, as I sit in the chair, that this is my first interview. No, not of the day, of ever--at least for this type of thing. He reacts. I ask my questions, trying very hard not to glance down at my list of them while he's talking (note: I no longer make a list of questions and just chat with the people). At the end, we both let out big sighs and he says, 'Wow, I feel like we just did something, here.' I nod. And then he says, 'I feel like I just popped your cherry.' Sadly, I was still too nervous to tell him that indeed he did.

I then proceed to a couple more interviews, a seasoned veteran now. I have Mary Beth Hurt, who I know as Garp's wife from The World According to Garp and am a little in awe, then the writer/director, Karen Moncrieff. Then I interview Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River, Pollock) and Kerry Washington (The Last King of Scotland, Ray)--who is especially glowing and pretty in person, and also very sweet. I tell everyone it is my first day at this and they are all very nice.

My final interview is with Brittany Murphy. She is running late--quite late, it seems, as everyone else in the cast has been giving interviews for hours already. We all have to camp out in the hallway waiting for her to show up, and when she finally does it is with an entourage. She is made up to the hilt, with a buttload of makeup, including what I recognized as individual fake eyelashes, which I had worn at my wedding. She seems slightly wacky.

When it is finally my turn to interview her, I tell her it is my first day. She continues to seem somewhat nutty, but is nice and we all survive. Then a few minutes later she is going to the bathroom and she stops me to tell me that I did a great, I made her feel very comfortable, and I will do really well at my job. It was really, really nice.

So to all of the people who like to suggest she might be a fan of the ole magic white powder, you may very well be right. But she was damn nice to me on my first very nervous day, so I'm on her side.

And a final note: About a week later, Josh saw Giovanni Ribisi in the coffee shop. He contemplated going up to him and saying, 'You popped my wife's cherry last week,' but he thought better of it. I think he should have.

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