2009 SXSW Dispatch: In Which I Totally Rudd My Segel

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Here’s the story of how I botched my interview with Paul Rudd and Jason Segel.

I usually don’t do celebrity interviews, not because I’m too good for that kind of fluff, but because I’m lazy. (Side note: I am also too good for that kind of fluff.) The interviewing part is easy; transcribing the recording afterward is tedious and time-consuming. So at every film festival, when every publicist contacts every journalist offering interview opportunities with every actor in attendance, I always decline. It’s just not my thing. There are many writers whose thing it is, and they are welcome to it.

But the publicists for “I Love You, Man” flattered the higher-ups at Film.com by offering a one-on-one (well, one-on-two) interview with Rudd and Segel, saying that such an opportunity had only been offered to a few websites. And I like Rudd and Segel, and I knew my Film.com overlords would be delighted to have an interview, and the time didn’t conflict with anything, so I said sure, why not?

I was told via e-mail that I’d have 15 minutes with the duo, starting at 11:45 a.m. at Austin’s Four Seasons hotel. (Actually, I was told Four Season’s, but I knew what they meant.) They assumed I could find the Four Seasons hotel on my own, which is a reasonable assumption. Before I left for Austin, I googled it, saw where it was on the map, and made a mental note: It’s on 2nd Street (or so I thought), between the convention center and Congress Avenue. No problem. I’m basically familiar with that part of downtown.

So it gets to be Saturday morning. I leave my hotel room near the convention center, walk to 2nd Street, and head west toward Congress, knowing the Four Seasons is somewhere in that several-block stretch. It’s a big hotel, hard to miss. But I’m running just a little late, and so I panic a bit when it’s 11:44 and the publicist calls me. Luckily, she’s calling to say they’re running a little late, too, and my interview will be at 11:50, and I’ll only have 10 minutes because Rudd and Segel have dash out the door promptly at noon, presumably due to some comedy emergency.

Perfect! Now I have six minutes to get there — plenty of time. The Four Seasons is along here somewhere, and I’m almost to Congress Avenue. In parting, I tell the publicist I’m on my way to the hotel now, and ask if she happens to know the cross street. She says she thinks it’s San Jacinto. I say thank you and hang up.

I continue walking west for a couple minutes before realizing: San Jacinto is the other way. In fact, San Jacinto is back near the convention center. In fact, I’m now about 10 blocks in the wrong direction, and it’s 11:48, and they’re running late anyway, and there is now no possible way for me to get to the interview.

Despairing, I call the publicist back and tell her I’ve made a huge mistake and I’m very sorry but I won’t be able to make the interview. I apologize profusely for wasting their time. Only 10 minutes of their time, but still. Nobody likes having their time wasted. Well, people who watch “Heroes” do. But not publicists.

Now I’m on the wrong side of town, it’s starting to rain a little, and the right lens of my eyeglasses pops out. Just randomly, without provocation, it just leaps off my face, like a suicide jumper. It’s the third time it’s happened since I got these new glasses at JCPenney about six weeks ago. Perhaps that explains why the eye exam, frames, and lenses were all together much cheaper at JCPenney than anywhere else: because all they use to attach the lenses to the frames is imagination. I was able to put the lens back where it goes, but COME ON. I shouldn’t have to do that. I’m a busy man.

So anyway, that’s why I didn’t interview Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. I tried to come up with a way that the whole thing was someone else’s fault, but I couldn’t. It was all me. When I checked my e-mail later that day, I found one from the other publicist, sent at 11:47, that said, “ARE YOU HERE? THEY ARE LOOKING FOR YOU AT THE FOUR SEASONS!” I guess he thought that if he typed it in all caps, the e-mail would yell at me from inside my laptop and get my attention? I don’t know. But since you’ve been deprived of reading my interview with Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, feel free to seek out one of the other hundred interviews they’ve done for this film and assume I would have asked the same questions. That, too, is a safe assumption.

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