Hosting a press junket on a movie set can be a fun and rewarding experience for a publicist. It can also be like a trip to the dentist, but last week's was luckily the former, though perhaps with one cavity.
One of the stars I'm working with has a huge international following, especially in the action-crazed Eastern markets, so we flew in 15 Asian journalists to poke around the set and chat with the actors. Many had just worked the Cannes Film Festival, and were not daisy fresh. One in particular kept asking what day it was, and seemed continually surprised by the answer. He also drank more Red Bull than a 20-year-old college coed at a rave. I've never seen anyone write so fast. I was afraid the pen was going to slip out of his hand and take out the star's eye or something.
It's immediately obvious which journalists are veterans, and which are rookies. The novice's first question is always, "When will we get to talk to the Very Big Star? The savvy ones no longer bother with that sort of thing. First, because they know the publicist doesn't have a clue (I sure didn't). Second, they have different priorities after 10 years on the junket circuit. Breakfast, for instance. The cavity I mentioned earlier - and every group has one - was obsessed with breakfast. She began by peppering me with questions about what I had for breakfast. "Nothing, I said. "I gave up donuts, so what else is there?"
"Yes, she replied, "but you have to take care of us, and we want breakfast."
"I thought we'd eat on set when we get there, I explained as we loaded up the vans. "Besides, I told everyone last night that breakfast was free at the hotel."
"Yes, she said (she always said the word "yes before disagreeing), "but we didn't want to get up that early. And now we want something."
We stopped for orange juice and powdered donuts. (I must admit, they were good. What made me think I could give them up?) This tided us over for the 45-minute drive to the set, where the "cavity was delighted to find a full breakfast spread, though she was a bit disconcerted about the absence of fresh butter. "You're suppose to take care of us, I was reminded.
The junket itself was a home run. The journalists interviewed every actor they had been promised, and the Very Big Star gave them great stuff. He even chatted with them on the set between takes, and distributed gifts.
Never saw that before. (Wonder if I'm going to get something?) It was, by blessed luck, a perfect junket.
They were a terrific group - fun, enthusiastic, and well prepared. I even liked the "cavity, despite her high maintenance. She asked to stay over an extra day, and wanted the production to deal with it.
"I know, I sighed. "I'm supposed to 'take care of you.'"