Thursday, January 29, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

I decided to take a little freelance action while friends were off at Sundance (oh Sundance, one day I shall get to you), so I covered a couple of junkets. Amongst them were He's Just Not That Into You, the ensemble romantic comedy born of the book born of the Sex & the City episode of the same name. The movie was surprisingly better than I expected. Not, you know, tell-everyone-you-ever-met amazing or anything, but cute enough. 

It felt good to be back in the saddle, marching to the check-in table at the theater, getting my pass and my popcorn voucher. I think it made Josh happy, too--even if it was just knowing that getting to do stuff like that makes me happy. But it felt like the LA I know--old and comfortable. That, and there was a small earthquake during the screening that we could feel. No one moved or panicked. Oh, LA.

The junket was the next day, at a hotel where I have not junketed before, so I did have to manage to get my bearings. But after a brief incident in which the Latino housekeepers/repairmen had to direct me around, I made it to where I was headed. 

The junket was press conference style. The first press conference was Justin Long (Ed), Ginnifer Goodwin (Margene from Big Love), Bradley Cooper (Wedding Crashers), Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson, and Kevin Connolly (E from Entourage), and it was an interesting one mostly because there was foreign press there and foreign press + a romantic comedy movie = the opportunity for nearly every question for the talent to be a personal one. 

You see, if you are going to ask more spunky personal questions of the talent other than the 'why did you decide to do this project' variety, the go-to channel is ones that roughly relate to the movie. So, in the instance of Bride Wars, say, someone will ask Anne Hathaway & Kate Hudson questions about marriage, wanting to get married, what makes a good wedding, etc. If you play a mother in the movie, press will ask how you feel about motherhood. Questions that would normally make the publicists freak out and the talent squirm in these instances become legit game.

So, He's Just Not That Into You is all about romantic foibles, cheating, breaking up, falling in love, etc., which means that the press now essentially has carte blanche to ask questions about how the talent has broken up with people, etc.--the things gossip rags die for and the things that the talent, like all normal people, would likely prefer play closer to the vest. And since the foreign press is notorious for just asking totally inappropriate personal questions, this was an interesting set up.

Interestingly, of everyone on that panel, I would say the ones with the biggest reason to be uncomfortable/nervous would easily be Justin Long & Drew Barrymore--being that they dated and have since broken up (all in the press). But the saltiest was easily Scarlett Johansson who had a puss on her like we'd all just rolled in elephant turd. Obviously she is amazing and all of us should realize how fortunate we even are to be in the same room with her.

The first personal question, I believe, came from one of my American counterparts, but he did a lovely job asking it with a bit of self-deprecating humor. A soft touch that conveyed the, 'oh yes, I am being a bit cheeky here, but I have to ask,' which resulted in at least one or two of the talent and ponying up a story or two of being dumped.

As the press conference went on, however, the creeps kept piping up. It never ceases to amaze me how inappropriate the journalists who cover this beat can be. Some of them seem super weird, and are able to ask things sweetly, appropriately despite the fact that they are wearing pants that look like they have them left over from a part-time job as a Footlocker sales associate and displaying several inches of gut hanging out from beneath their shirt. Others look normal, dull even, and then essentially wind up in a wrestling match with the publicists so they can ask their pushy, rude questions.

This particular press conference featured some of my favorite characters: The crazy nutjob radio woman with obvious plastic surgery who usually butts in when someone else is talking to ask a question "I know my listeners are dying to know," the rude abrupt guy who got into an argument with Sean Penn last year at the Into the Wild junket, and the crazy Italian woman who looks like Ozzy Osbourne. All of them of course asked questions. 

However, they were not outdone by a French woman who cobbled together an obnoxious question for Scarlett Johansson, which she tried to veil with her beautiful accent. The question was along the lines of this: "I loved one of the other couples in the movie--not the one you played. They were discussing marriage. Now tell me about your marriage." To which Scarlett basically deigned to speak for the first time, spitting snottily, "Ask me in 25 years." Given, I wouldn't necessarily want to answer, either, but you can be nice about shooting that question down. Honestly. It is possible.

She was outdone, however, by a guy I've never seen before who asked a completely unrelated two part question. The first part was requesting a comment on the more male-oriented Judd Apatow movies. Fine. Whatever. The second part, actually baffles the mind. He was clearly trying to ask a very very personal question, but constructed it in such a way as it actually made zero sense. The question came out to mean something like this, "Considering the public knows about your personal lives, how does the public's knowledge of your personal lives impact your performance in this movie." It took him a lot longer to spit this out, but in short, it was just a physically and theologically impossible question. A sentence constructed of words that fit together but made zero sense. Drew Barrymore appropriately responded, "HUH?"

He rephrased, "Julia Roberts famously does not like answering questions about her personal life. If you want to get her to get up and walk out of an interview, you ask her about that, So blah blah blah now I am asking the same ontological impossibility again." Justin Long fielded it this time with a "Well, too bad she's not here," which was amusing. At this point Ginnifer Goodwin tried to be game and come up with some sort of answer, the panicking publicist literally wrestled the microphone out of the journalist's hand, and then Scarlett Johansson was moved enough to basically say, "How dare you ask me about what I draw from for my work. If I were giving a class at the Actor's Studio, maybe I would explain that, but you couldn't possibly understand." Those weren't exactly her words, mind you, but that was essentially the tone. Obviously only the very very elite and special can understand the concepts behind acting. I didn't know.

In short: this is why I usually stay quiet and don't ask questions at press conferences, preferring to save them for 1:1s.

Please note, my impressions of the rest of the talent are this:

Justin Long - affable, humble, funny. Bradley Cooper - pretty much the same. I hadn't realized he's also hosted Globe Trekker although I've watched the episodes he did. That blew my mind. He is also quite hot, if piercing blue eyes are your thing. Kevin Connolly was rather petite, but also extremely good natured--basically just what I expected. Ginnifer Goodwin was lovely, and much more done up, sexier in person than she usually gets to play on screen. She also is evidently Southern, if the periodic "y'all"s are anything to go by. And Drew Barrymore was goddamn lovely, nice, chatty, open, fun, not snobby, generous, shared stories about herself, and basically I would probably be friends with her. You know, if she wanted to.

There was a second round of writers and directors and whatnot, but honestly, are you really interested in them? I didn't think so.

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