Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My own personal Office episode

One of my early on-camera interviews was for The Last Mimzy, which was a whatever blah blah family sci-fi movie. Just fine, not amazing, not terrible. There was a lot of hullaballoo at work about whether or not we should do TV interviews (i.e. on camera interviews for the web) since the TV station did their own and we could theoretically repurpose them. The flip side is if you do an interview for TV you are looking for sound bites; if you are doing one for the web, you are looking for a solid 4-minute conversation with a thru line.

I can see both sides of it, but the truth is, I loved doing on-camera interviews. You go in to the little room (it's just a hotel room that they have set up), they announce you, the talent looks up at you from under the lights and the silly set up while they are probably getting their make up on, you say hi and shake their hand, you sit down and you make small talk for the 60 seconds it takes for them to set up your mic and tape.

Then you have (usually) 4 minutes to probe said talent with your amaazing questions. Either someone will tap you on the shoulder when you have, like, a minute left, or else someone will dance around and flash you signs behind the talent. Then you hit them with the desperate scoop questions and then you get tapped again/the production people dance around more and it's time to wrap up. The poor talent is stuck in this room doing this for hours on end. Every five minutes a new person, 'Hello, I'm Frank, Hot in here under these lights, heh heh, I'm a big fan, So, what made you decide to do this movie?' Usually the talent is pretty nice; I mean, it's not like you don't know you're signing up to do the press tour, so best to put on the best face and truck through. Also, I like to pretend I'm the only person to ever ask these probing questions though; otherwise I'd go nuts.

The best is when the talent is excited to talk about something or just doesn't shut up or tells you to ask them another question or something at the end of the 4 minute mark. Then the production people get all pissed, but seriously, if Joel Schumacher is telling me he wants to give me scoop on something, the production people can deal. Anyhoot.

So, on Mimzy I got to talk to Bob Shaye, who was the director (and also the head of the now absorbed into Warner Bros, New Line studio). He seemed mostly old and nice enough. Then I interviewed Timothy Hutton and Joely Richardson together. It was hard not to coo all over Hutton because Ordinary People is one of my favorite movies ever and had a big impact on my life. Okay, so maybe I did coo all over him a little, and maybe he didn't mind that much.

During the on-camera part, however, I asked him about an upcoming project (the favorite last question for scoop) - IMDB said he was in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (the David Foster Wallace story that was adapted and directed by John Krasinski from The Office). He seemed happy enough to discuss it, but then when I asked if he was one of the Hideous Men he gave me a blank stare of horror. As the movie still hasn't been released, I still to this day do not know what the faux pas was. But so much for Timothy Hutton's and my burgeoning love affair.

Finally, and most exciting of all, I got to talk to Rainn Wilson--i.e. Dwight Schrute from The Office. Now THAT was fun. First, he's not precious at all, so the small talk was v easy. Plus, he'd grown up on the North Shore of Chicago. Translation: he went to New Trier (high school), where a lot of my friends went. So we covered that ground. And he liked my necklace, which he was very excited to discover my mother in law gave me (ah, the chance at a mother in law joke, thwarted because mine is awesome).

The interview went great; he totally dug me. And when I asked him how Dwight Schrute would have reacted in the Mimzy situation, he clearly got very excited and actually slipped into Dwight character for a second to dream up the answer to that. In short, Rainn was a cool dude. Not a bad day. Not at all.

1 comment:

  1. Dwight is the man. I just ordered a sweet Dwight Schrute for President shirt from They have tons of stuff from The Office. They said not to tell anyone, but here is a 10% discount code, pts10 (it is case sensitive, so copy and paste it). Enjoy!