LAST CALL: Tales from Tinseltown - Worthless treats are priceless weapons against inflated egos

When it comes down to getting people to do favors for you, never underestimate the power of free stuff. Even if it's practically worthless.

When it comes down to getting people to do favors for you, never underestimate the power of free stuff. Even if it's practically worthless.

As a general rule, and by that I mean all the time, actors hate doing EPK (electronic press kit) interviews. Studios prefer to do these interviews on the set during the production of a film in order to capture the color, pageantry, and glamour of filmmaking. Actors hate doing them on set because they are not interested in the color, pageantry, and glamour of filmmaking.

They merely want to remember their taxing three lines of dialogue, do the scene, and get back to their warm trailer, where bottled water and taped episodes of Friends await.

This is where the gifts come in. I like to hand out little gag presents to cast and filmmakers as a lighthearted thank you from the publicity department for agreeing to do these EPK interviews, which take at least half an hour and always involve the same 12 questions, including: "Tell me about your character," "What's it like working with a genius like Carrot Top?" and "Is it hard to work in this 119-degree desert heat?"

I arranged EPK interviews on a project last week with all the cast members (except one), and handed out these ridiculous Jack O' Lantern snow domes as a parting gift. I think they cost all of $4.95. The cast got a laugh of out of them, and genuinely seemed to appreciate the gesture.

Not too unexpectedly, the one actor we didn't interview (he was off all week) approached me about the gifts upon his return.

"Hey, how come I'm the only one who didn't get one of those pumpkin things you gave out?"

"Well, they were gag gifts for all the cast who did EPK interviews. You told me you didn't want to come in just for an interview, remember?"

"Yeah, I know. But, um, do you still have pumpkins left?"

Now bear in mind that this particular actor was making a seven-figure salary and wouldn't have otherwise been caught dead with a Jack O' Lantern snow dome in his trailer. He just wanted one because he felt left out.

"I may have one left. I'll check."

"How about if you give it to me now for whatever interview you want me to do later?" Anything coming up?"

"Yeah, Premiere magazine is coming next week."


I have learned in this business that no matter how much money or fame a person has obtained, they are still susceptible to the same fear we all have: being excluded from your fair share. Sometimes a $5 gift elicits more satisfaction than a $5,000 bonus.

If we're still shooting this film at Thanksgiving, I already have my next offering in mind: a plastic blow-up turkey. Already priced them out at $12. At that rate, of course, I'm gonna have to bill it back to the studio.

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