Ever wonder why most of the interviews you read with celebrities are virtually identical?
Well, it’s because very often they are the same interview, just packaged differently. Despite the “Exclusive interview!’ lies you’re fed, few outlets actually get to have one-on-one time with the stars of new movies, and have to make do with dry, generic interviews done in-house and sent out to thousands of websites, magazines and newspapers across the world. There are only so many ways a put-upon feature writer can make it sound like they actually met the subject of their article, and so what we are left with are piles of interviews with the cast of The Avengers, each one framed slightly differently, but with remarkably similar quotes.
Now there’s another option open to journalists, but as with most things, it costs. Canadian journalists at this year’s Cannes Film Festival were being charged thousands of dollars for interviews with the likes of Brad Pitt, Kristen Stewart and Nicole Kidman.
Alliance, the Canadian distributor for Stewart’s film On the Road and Pitt’s new movie Killing Them Softly, sent out a “menu” of prices to various outlets prior to the event, letting them know how much different people cost if they wanted to talk to them. While Brad Pitt started at £2400 for a 20 minute interview, McConaughey was a bargain at just £1200. Presumably with two funny anecdotes and a high five thrown in for free.
Unsurprisingly, journalists rebelled.
However, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Harvey Weinstein tried a similar tactic back in 2007 with Tarantino’s Death Proof, and that didn’t go down well either. The cash-for-questions style scheme resulted in a huge storm of bad publicity; and wouldn’t you know it, the same has happened here. Not least because in the handful of interviews that were secured with Brad Pitt to promote Killing Them Softly, the dunce happily announced that he was hooked by the script because it was “making a commentary” on our consumerist society. Ho ho ho.
Let’s ignore for a second the fact that journalists shouldn’t be expected to pay for the privilege of helping film companies promote their latest rubbish. It’s concerning that, even though the actors and actresses involved are now being paid to speak, they STILL just trot out the same old tired cliches.
Most outlets are running on a shoestring budget and will never be able to afford to pay for interviews (nor should they) but if they are able to, then they should be rewarded with far more than a semi-awake celebrity gurgling on about how ‘challenging’ their latest role is, and how the director is a ‘genius’.
Would you pay £2400 for that? I wouldn’t. Why the hell should I pay to listen to megarich celebrities promote the movies they’re starring in? Films they’ve already been paid more than you or I will EVER earn to promote as part of their multi-million dollar contracts.
They should be paying us for making the turgid nonsense that spills out of their mouths sound like it came from someone with a grain of personality, and not just a polished automaton parroting whatever their publicist has told them to say.
For years there has been a symbiotic relationship between the press and publicists. They give us interviews with their ‘talent’ which helps us attract readers and in return we help to raise awareness about their films with little focus on whether the product is actually any good. Think about it – when was the last time you read a lengthy interview with a movie star or saw an actor on a TV show where the product came off badly? Never – that’s when.
And now publicists like Alliance want to rock the boat and make the press pay? This can only end one way, and it won’t be the press being made to look stupid and forced to back down.
An Alliance spokesperson said: “The fee is simply a means for the expenses to be shared… These stars travel by private jet, with their agents, make-up artists and hairdressers; someone’s got to pay.”
Yep, sure they do – but not the people you are relying on to promote your films, idiot.
If you liked this piece, try How short-sighted PRs are hurting their clients