Idiot Savant Online

John Lichman's third attempt at a personal blog and online savanting idiotic.

A Junket Question

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Media junkets aren’t anything groundbreaking or new. Most of the time, they involve a very long table in one of the conferene rooms at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Los Angeles or Waldorf Astoria in New York; and if they ever happened in Washington, DC I’m sure someone would spring for the Americana Motel in Crystal City.

Junket Questions, though, are another beast entirely. These are the best that the brightest from People, Teen People, Seventeen, Tiger Beat, TV Guide, and other illustrious print/online sites that cover media purely for the SEO dollars. They ask the hard hitting questions for their allotted 45-minute press conference or 25-minute roundtable interview with five other people and the selected talent.

Don’t think it’s real? Look no further than the profile on Cillian Murphy in the Times:

As seriously as Mr. Murphy takes all of his parts, it is hard to imagine how he manages to get through even one of the press junkets that these movies require. When asked to discuss an admittedly inane Timberlake-related point, his eyes clouded over. “That is a junket question,” he said.

Topic dismissed.

When you’re opening your one-man show (Misterman) you may want to focus on that rather than what recently was vomited into theaters (In Time) or whether you’ll don a burlap sack to make a cameo in The Dark Knight Rises.  And it’s not just related to In Time–way back when I was a college kid I was the film editor of the student paper. During the junket for The Wind That Shakes The Barley, I had my pre-arranged time to show up in a conference room at some hotel on Fashion Avenue. There were only five of us:

  • Well-Known Junketeer
  • Russian Correspondent
  • Other Foreign Correspondent
  • Some Other Guy Who I Forgot As The Years Went On
  • Me

First we had the director, Ken Loach, whom I’d later find out all sorts of fun stories about how he abuses certain British film standards for cash–but that’s a story for another time. Prior to Murphy coming in, the PR rep entered the room and told us, “Hey. So this is a very personal film to Cillian and he would really respect if you didn’t ask any questions about Batman. He can’t say anything and can’t confirm anything. Thanks.”

Translation: Please don’t be a dick. None of you are important enough to break that news. Eat your free pastry and drink your coffee. Thanks.

In walks Cillian Murphy, slips into the chair at the head of this conference room and so begins one of the shortest interviews I’ve ever seen.

“So, in movie, you play serial killer. How you feel?”

Read the above with the Russian accent Mickey Rourke perfected for Iron Man 2. Now repeat it in your head. That’s what everyone in the room, I believe, did as soon as they heard it.

“Excuse me,” Murphy replied. The Russian Correspondent for god knows what looked him dead in the eye and repeated the same question.

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“In movie. You play serial killer. You kill lot of people. Red Eye. Cold Mountain. Breakfast on Pluto. Batman. This film. You kill people a lot. How you do?”

After we got through that minor hiccup with a Method response, then came the clincher: “So, how is Batman movie? Going well?”

I’d tell you that he left right there, but instead remained there to stare at the Russian Correspondent, briefly discussed how he enjoyed making this film and then thanked us. I’m proud to say I asked nothing, but instead watched in a stunned silence by the thing that happened before my eyes. Like a car wreck with words, it was a horrifying event but noteworthy for a basic reason:

don’t ever ask junket questions.


Written by john lichman

November 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Posted in Falsehoods and Reality

Tagged with ,

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