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.'

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Let's start with honesty: this is not a good movie. It wasn't as terrible as I expected; in fact, it could have been far worse. But let's just say you will be missing nothing if you decide to stay home and watch Supernanny reruns that night instead. Frankly, the book wasn't that exciting either, which is surprising considering that it was a mass seller that has spawned several sequels. But it wasn't until after I saw the movie and then got a copy of the book that I realized I'd actually read it before and had evidently forgotten it entirely. Yup.

The junket for this one was another press conference in two parts. Part 1 - a bunch of people that don't matter much along with Isla Fisher, whom you will know as A. the movie's lead, B. the crazy chick from Wedding Crashers, and C. Sasha Baron Coen (Borat)'s wife. She is very nice and very grateful to have work and very tiny and cute, and when you ask her questions that even border on personal life, she is capable of dismissing them politely (unlike some others I can think of) and without making the journalist feel like a giant turd. In short, she is lovely.

Second press conference featured the likes of Hugh Dancy (a bunch of stuff, but you probably don't know who he is unless you are a huge movie geek a la moi) and Kristen Scott Thomas, which was pretty exciting, what with her being Fiona in Four Weddings and A Funeral and Katharine from The English Patient and all. They were both normal, nice, whatever.

The most exciting part for me was that I had a 1:1 with producer Jerry Bruckheimer after the press conference was over. In fact, it was the very second the press conference was over; they actually called out my name to see if I was there to be brought up to his interview room.

Jerry Bruckheimer is like mega huge producer man. He produced Pirates of the Caribbean, Beverly Hills Cop, The Rock, and just about anything with an explosion and Nicholas Cage in it and grossed a zillion dollars. My friend whom I was doing the interview for was very excited about it and very nervous, which unfortunately got me nervous when usually I'm comfortable with 1:1s. But Jerry B is a big fish, so there you go.

I thought with a name like Bruckheimer he was a member of the tribe, but after meeting him I have concluded that he is actually just a tiny, intense German-ancestry type. I had a full 15 minutes with him and he enjoyed very much giving me 1 word answers and making me work for every second of it. Not that he was mean; he wasn't. And he was happy to talk about other projects, etc. But seriously, not a verbose man. Weirdly, he noticed my crazy socks and at some point broke off and complimented me on them and said they would be perfect for the character of Suze in Shopaholic. Suze, mind you, is the one who wears weird shit. I don't know if that was a compliment.