I put myself through college, and supported myself for a few years after graduation, covering the entertainment industry for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Newsweek, Starlog, American Film, Playgirl, and a bunch of other publications. I went to a lot of movie sets, interviewed a lot of movie stars, and attended a lot of press junkets. I had no illusions that what I was doing qualified as major journalism, but I had ethical standards. I asked whatever questions I wanted to ask, I never let a publicist or studio dictate what I was going to write (even if my employers let them pay my way to distant sets), and I wrote the story I wanted to write.
I couldn’t do that today. Because now "journalists," and I use that term lightly, are required to clear their questions with publicists first… to agree before an interview not to ask certain questions about certain subjects. Or, as in the case with junket for MR. AND MRS. SMITH, reporters had to sign contracts agreeing not to ask Brad and Angelina about their relationship.
When one reporter – who, like all the attending journalists, was required to
sign a "loyalty oath" vowing not to ask personal questions – inquired about the
stars’ onscreen chemistry, Pitt replied, "Between me and [Smith costar]
Vince [Vaughn]? It was palpable. I mean, we knew immediately when we looked into
each other’s eyes . . . "
I’d refuse to sign a document like that. And I wouldn’t clear my questions with a publicist first. So I’d probably be blackballed from studio junkets and interviews…which is why I’m glad I’m not doing that any more.
Does the studio really think America is clamoring to know about the
making of MR. AND MRS. SMITH? Or if Angelina did all her own stunts. Or
if Brad improvised any of his lines. Hell no. People want want to know
if Brad was fucking Angelina while was making the movie and if he’s
fucking her now. Thats the only "news" value at the moment in MR. AND
MRS. SMITH. There’s nothing else to write about (except, perhaps, that
the director is a strange and difficult guy to work with, as the LA Times reported a few days ago).
Of course, if writers and editors in the entertainment press had any self-respect or journalistic integrity whatsoever (which they clearly don’t), they’d band together and refuse to accept any conditions on their coverage. And if the studios didn’t like it, they could kiss goodbye any publicity for their film. Overnight, the conditions placed by publicists on entertainment reporters would disappear. Because the fact is, the studios need the magazines and TV shows more than the shows need them.