July 24, 2006, “I Was a Junket Whore”: Fifteen minutes of Internet fame — oh, and it cost me a job, too.
This one earned me 15 minutes of Internet fame, but it had far more lasting repercussions than that: If it weren’t for this column, there is a very good chance that right now I would be the full-time film critic at a major weekly newspaper. Yep, this column cost me a job.
I had been freelancing movie reviews for Portland’s Willamette Week for several months when the paper’s full-time film critic, D., called to see if I wanted to go on this junket. It seemed like it would be fun to do once, just so I could say I did it, and I made the arrangements with Paramount Pictures.
My understanding was that I was going as a freelance writer, not as an official Willamette Week representative, and that WW would buy my story when I got back. The story would be your basic interview feature, incorporating the conversations I’d had with Oliver Stone and his actors.
Meanwhile, D. had announced that he was leaving WW, and the paper was seeking his replacement. The other writer who had been freelancing for them wasn’t applying for the job, which meant I was the only applicant who already had a foot in the door. D. indicated that if it were up to him, I’d be his replacement. He put me in touch with K., the features editor, and I went in for a job interview. It went well, K. liked me, I liked her, she was less interested in my past (I’d been fired from a newspaper a few years earlier) than in my ideas for the future, and things looked good.
Later that same day, July 19, I flew to Seattle for the junket.