Eric D. Snider

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Paramount Pictures: ‘Boo hoo! Some writer we’ve never heard of made fun of us! Boo hoo hoo!’

A few concerned readers wondered whether my column “I Was a Junket Whore,” in which I discussed the wasteful and elaborate means by which movie studios secure fluffy news coverage, would have any repercussions for me. I figured the worst that could happen is I wouldn’t get invited to any more publicity junkets (where you interview the cast and director), which is fine, because I wouldn’t want to go anyway.

But no! Paramount Pictures has gone a step further. They have barred me from all Paramount press screenings. And Allied Advertising, the Seattle branch of which handles Paramount screenings in my area, has decided (no doubt under pressure from Paramount) to ban me from screenings for the other studios it represents, too.

Now, it’s not as bad as it sounds. The studios affected are Paramount, Weinstein Co., Dimension and Miramax. The bigger ones — Warner Bros., Universal, 20th Century Fox, etc. — are handled by different P.R. agencies in Seattle and Portland, so they’re not involved. For the studios that are affected, it means that while in the past I’ve been able to go to advance screenings and run my reviews on opening day, now I may not be able to see the films until they open, meaning my reviews may be a day or two late. But again, it’s not that many movies that will actually be affected.

It’s amusing that Paramount’s response to my airing their dirty laundry is to ban me from their screenings. Has my reliability or professionalism as a film critic been called into question? No; they just don’t like that I made fun of their junket system, the inner workings of which are apparently some kind of secret. In my conversation with the Seattle publicist — who I like and who was just reporting what she’d been told — there was no mention that I had broken a specific rule or violated any contract. Paramount had never said, “Don’t write articles making fun of our junkets.” So banning me from screenings is entirely retributive: We’re mad at you, and this is how we’re going to punish you.

After “World Trade Center” (which was the focus of the junket I attended), Paramount’s next release is “Jackass: Number Two,” the further adventures of Johnny Knoxville and his friends stapling things to themselves while wearing jock straps. So you can see why Paramount would want people to take the studio seriously.

UPDATE: I had suspected this, but now I have it confirmed: Paramount wants me to remove the article from my site — but even if I do, I still won’t be invited to screenings. But they want me to take it down anyway. Why on earth would I remove the article if doing so would benefit me in no way whatsoever? That question seems to have evaded them. (I probably wouldn’t do it anyway, but if removing it would get me reinstated, I would at least think about it for a few minutes before saying no.)

3 Responses to “Paramount Pictures: ‘Boo hoo! Some writer we’ve never heard of made fun of us! Boo hoo hoo!’”

  1. Michaela Stephens Says:

    Good for you, sticking to your guns. I, for one, am pleased with you. (Not that you should care whether I’m pleased with your or not, because you don’t know me and therefore don’t know whether I’m someone worth pleasing.)

    Why am I pleased? Because it is good to hear that someone (you) has told their experience, and has passed it on to others, and they’ve refused to back down in the face of thinly-veiled gorrilla tactics.

    That isn’t the only thing that pleases me. Not only did you refuse to back down, but you aren’t concerned about the consequences. Instead of whining about the consequences as most people do, you laugh at them. (Sure, it’s awfully close to the little boy who says “That didn’t hurt!” when he’s getting swatted with a wooden spoon, but doing it for the sake of the truth? Well, perhaps a different, better metaphor is needed. Too bad I don’t know what it is.)

    It seems to me that the reason Paramount was so unhappy with your article was because of your frequent use of the terms “junket whore” throughout the article. (You may know this already.) I must say the term “junket whore” bothered me too, and I’m nowhere near associated with movie-making. However, I could see that you had a reason for doing it. It was your way of reminding yourself and your readers of what was really happening – movie studios buying the love of the press. Calling the spade a spade all the way through the process keeps you and others rom self-deception, and for that reason, it was appropriate.

    Again, good job.

  2. Harvey Karten Says:

    Glad to hear that you’d leave your junket-whore article up even if
    Paramount agreed to reinstate you. Barring you from reviewing
    Paramouont’s movies altogether is inappropriate, as you say.

  3. jayesh Says:

    serendipity of the net! i heard of you when i saw that we were born on the same day according to wikipedia… but i like this post, and love you talking about it, and talking about what they wnt you to do…

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