South by Southwest – Day 2
Day two for the 2009 South by Southwest Film Festival and I’m starting it off with a couple of interviews for Envy Magazine.
First up was a group chat with some of the people responsible for EXTERMINATORS which I had seen the night before. Director John Inwood, Producer/writer Suzanne Weinert, Producer Jay Michaelson, and stars Sam Lloyd and Farah White were all gathered to talk about the movie first thing in the morning. No Heather Graham, no Amber Heard, or Jennifer Coolidge. They couldn’t make the trip, weren’t available or backed out at the last minute, who knows? Who cares? It’s the kind of stuff that makes publicists drink. Heavily. Because most people think everyone only cares about what they have to say since they’re the stars, they’re hot, they have breasts, the usual.
Truth is, I was psyched about this group because Inwood directed some WAINY DAYS episodes (David Wain’s very funny little internet series), Weinert is one of those people (not just women) that give the people behind the scenes and behind the camera hope that they can eventually ascend to their creative dream spot (since she began film life as Julia Robert’s assistant, among other things before writing and producing her own stuff), and the best one yet was Sam Lloyd.
Why Sam Lloyd? Was it because I was crazy for SCRUBS? No, not so much. Was it because he’s the go-to guy for casting directors’ weasily, sleazy, nerdish roles? No, not that either.
It was because I used to play basketball once a week against Sam and others at Fairfax High in L.A. Those others included – I kid you not – Norm MacDonald and Kato Kalin. But Sam was one of the big-time regulars known for having a deadly shot and having the unwavering belief that on the rare occasion that he missed a shot, it could only have been because he was fouled. But a nice guy and I was looking forward to having some fun and calling him on it in of all places Austin, Texas at SXSW. It was a good interview with a group of people that have every right to be proud of that little film.
The next interview was with John Favreau and Jaime Pressly for I LOVE YOU, MAN. Again, this one had the touch of familiar to it because Favreau was repped by IDPR for years when I was there. In fact, when I got to the Four Seasons there were two current IDPR ladies and one former IDPR-ite each with a client. So it was catch-up time with everyone the way you do before these things where everyone is relieved and happy that there are familiar, friendly faces we can all do “business” with so no mystery or attitude or question marks anywhere in sight.
I have been happy for Favreau’s success because he’s taken a methodical, working class approach to his career and he always was easy to work with from my vantage point (which wasn’t THAT closely – I only had to help on the peripheral with his PR stuff for the most part). In fact, the funny part of the interview happened at the conclusion when my friend, his publicist, introduced me to his wife and she recalled (with much more clarity than Jon) the help I gave the two of them to attend the Comic Con premiere of Rob Zonbie’s THE DEVIL’S REJECTS.
That’s how it works. The wives or husbands always remember the people who have made things happen for them and their celebrity spouses at those moments and events for long after. But I still think Jon is a good guy even after ascending to the top of studio tent-pole mountain. Jaime was stuck on junket interview auto-pilot a little bit, but once you get stuck on your talking points it can sometimes be a little tough to be shaken out of it. In fact, we used to play a game at junkets where we would give the client a secret word before each on camera interview and they had to figure out a way to work it into their answers. During Franke Potente’s interviews for THE BOURNE SUPREMACY various interviewers had things like “porpoise” or “gorgonzola” or “face cream” randomly thrown into the conversation about what it was like to work with Matt Damon.
Because junketing can be fun when you know how!
But what about the films? Well, after a panel or two and the Texas film party, I finally made it to one. That film was Daryl Wein’s BREAKING UPWARDS. The film is basically a recreation of a time during the relationship of Wein and his co-star, Zoe Lister-Jones when they decided to “have days off” from one another and be open about dating other people.
So the film is a New York-ified and Jewish flavored anti-romantic comedy. And I would be for a lot of those ingredients in my romantic comedy soup. I would. But this one also had the spice of the couple in question playing themselves with one of them directing and…well…there was a lot of self-satisfied, I know I’m adorable and/or interesting and real moments in this thing that I recoil from like having to watch a spoiled full-of-itself toddler perform a rehearsed something or other while the parent stands next to you nodding in encouragement.
So it’s tough. For me.
Not a bad movie at all. Andrea Martin gets to do some nice work as Lister-Jones’ mother and remind us of the instant joy she can uncork at will. But not a movie that hits the bulls-eye either. In fact, my only solid laugh-out-loud moment was when Lister-Jones’ character has a crying jag in the middle of a yoga class due to the delayed feelings of loss and emptiness after she sleeps with the co-star of a play she is in. Confused and trying to help, the instructor reassures her and the rest of the class that “This is a really emotional (yoga) pose. It’s opening the hips up.”
You could say that again.