Film Scouts On The Riviera 1997

by Henri Behar

The 50th Cannes Film Festival is about to start and a slew of actors, directors, producers will descend on the Croisette to plug - pardon: *promote*! - their movie. Despite the 'au naturel' tone of the resulting interview (quote marks to that), it's a highly ritualized affair. The interviewers (quote marks to that) are "nominated" by a committee that includes:
a) the local press attache;
b) the studio's senior vice-president in charge of international publicity (rarely leaves Los Angeles);
c) the independent publicist hired by the same studio (never left Beverly Hills);
d) the producer's personal publicist;
e) the director's press secretary;
f) the PRs personally attached to the stars, whom everybody bows and kowtows to, otherwise "Bruce (Brad, Barbra, Tom, Arnold, Jodie, Harrison)" will just say no.

Of course, the nominated scribes are "intelligent" and "sensitive" (read "gullible" and "malleable") - and most importantly, "they lo-o-o-o-ved the movie," according to the flurry of frenzied faxed fired throughout the chain of command.

In the world described by the star (the director, the producer), every comedy rollicks, every tragedy touches, every thriller thrills. After a while - longevity, I guess - you learn to read between the lines.

What They Say: "I auditioned literally thousands of actresses before selecting (Suzie Starlet) for the demanding part of (Janet)."
What They Mean: "Couldn't afford Sharon Stone or Julia Roberts."

What They Say: "I knew (Suzie) was right the moment she walked in."
What They Mean: "She was the only name' that would take the deal."

What They Say: "I totally invested myself in the part. I spent a lot of time observing cops (lawyers, surgeons, nurses, welders) at work.
What They Mean: "I spend two hours in a police car (in court, at the hospital, in a factory) I'll never set foot there again. All they wanted was my frigging autograph.

What They Say: "I came away with a profound respect for these unsung heroes and heroines of our (judicial, medical...) system."
What They Mean: "I had to pay for the beer, all 78 million gallons of it."

What They Say: "I'm dedicating my work in this film to them."
What They Mean: "Never got reimbursed."

What They Say: "It's an ensemble piece."
What They Mean: "My best scenes landed on the cutting-room floor."

What They Say: "He (she) is such a perfectionist."
What They Mean: "A pain in the ass ! "
"He (she) would go out every night and come back drunk like a skunk. Varied wildly from one take to the other. "I'm trying it different ways!" he (she) said. In fact, had no idea what the hell he (she) was doing."

What They Say: "As a director, he's very demanding."
What They Mean: "No vision, not even a point of view. Covered himself every which way and angle he could, hoping he'd fix it in the editing room."

What They Say: "He (she) is a star, but when it comes to the work itself, he (she) gives you a lot. He (she) is very supportive. He (she) is there for you."
What They Mean: "He (she) has an ego the size of the Chrysler Building, but it was manageable. I mean, he (she) gave me a part in his (her) next movie."

What They Say: "The locals were very cooperative."
What They Mean: "We wrecked the entire neighborhood. Didn't give them a dime. Let them sue. It'll take decades! "

What They Say: "The film is very truthful to the life of Steve Rockstar. We worked very closely with the family.
What They Mean: "Rockstar's family is co-producing the movie."

What They Say: "They didn't ask for any changes in the script.
What They Mean: "We idealized them to the point of obscenity."

What They Say: Not only did they open their homes to us, they opened their hearts.
What They Mean: "We omitted the fact that the 'Peter Pan of pop' was gay, a drug addict and slept with his future murderer."

What They Say: When they saw the film, they burst into tears.
What They Mean: "They also co-produced the soundtrack album."

What They Say: "The part was so well written."
What They Mean: "We had to rewrite it every morning."

What They Say: "Once he's chosen you, he gives you enormous latitude to create your character."
What They Mean: "There was no script. He cast me because 'Funny Woman' had a huge first weekend. Same character, really.

What They Say: "We all took a pay cut."
What They Mean: "My agent fought tooth and nail. He lost. We were promised points. Never got a cent. We're suing."

What They Say: "We turned our backs on all the action-adventure cliches."
What They Mean: "Didn't have the budget."

What They Say: "With him (her), it always comes from the heart."
What They Mean: "Doesn't know one end of the camera from the other."

What They Say: "He brings out of you stuff you didn't know you had."
What They Mean: "He wanted Michele Pfeiffer."

What They Say: "I wanted to stretch, break my image."
What They Mean: "You have to play a drunkard, a dimwit, a cripple or a drug addict to get that bloody Oscar!"

What They Say: "He's a visual director."
What They Mean: "A tin ear for dialogue."

What They Say: "It's an homage."
What They Mean: "They wanted too much for the remake rights. So we stole their story-line. Shit, you noticed."

What They Say: "It's almost like a European movie."
What They Mean: a) "You're European; a bit of flattery can't hurt, can it?" b) "The film was a flop in the States."

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