The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Who says the Hollywood junket press never ask any tough questions?

October 14, 2009 |  5:50 pm

Mr. Fox
I've been hearing that Fox flew a bunch of bloggers and entertainment writers over to London for a "Fantastic Mr. Fox" junket. So I figured that surely someone in the bunch, even if he or she were there on Fox's dime, might ask Wes Anderson for his response to the unflattering profile of him written by my colleague Chris Lee in our Sunday Calendar section. If you missed it, the piece painted a picture of a film crew that was openly critical of Anderson's work methods, in particular his decision to let the crew spend roughly a year in London, doing principal photography, while Anderson holed up in Paris, communicating largely by e-mail.

Lee quoted Tristan Oliver, the film's director of photography, as saying he thought Anderson was "a little sociopathic," while Mark Gustafson, the film's director of animation, said that Anderson had "made our lives miserable." Ouch! That's the kind of talk you hear at the craft services table after a long day of shooting, not the kind of chatter you normally read in the L.A. Times. Even though I'm a big fan of Anderson's work, including his new film, I have to admit that if I were interviewing him today, I'd be bugging him for some plausible answers.

But apparently there's something in the sumptuous surroundings at the posh, all-expenses-paid London hotel where Fox put up its carefully selected journalists that seemed to totally sap their curiosity. At least that's what happened to Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeffrey Wells, who after a "pricey breakfast" at the Dorchester Hotel, sat down with Anderson and managed to lob the following softball question, which tells you everything you need to know about the high level of probing inquiry inspired by the cozy creature comforts of junketeering.

For me, the obvious question to ask Anderson would be: "Why was your crew so unhappy about working with you?" But for Wells, the question was as follows:

Now if I were being hired by Wes Anderson to work with him, I would have a very clear idea,  before we had even talked about the particulars, that I was going to be working with a guy with a very specific, personality related, stylistically related thing, right? So I'm trying to get from you how can -- what is the best way to expand upon and understand the, uhm, slight griping in that Chris Lee piece ... because I don't understand how anybody could say, well, whenyou're going to do a film somebody's way, you're obviously going to be adhering to a very particular thing and that's all there is to it.

I don't know about you, but if I were teaching How to Answer Toothless Junket Press Questions 101, I would suggest that the only appropriate answer would be: "Jeff, I couldn't agree with you more!"

So, what did he really say? Click here to see the interview.

Image: "Fantastic Mr. Fox." Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

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