Every couple of months I feel like my colleagues in the internet press go and do something just plain stupid, usually in the pursuit of scoops. It used to be that they would print any old rumor from any source that has access to an email account. ‘Hey, we got an email from some random Yahoo account that says Javier Bardem will play Anton Chigurh in a No Country prequel that explores the character’s origins, and that Adam Shankman is directing! Let’s run it as our main headline!’
Next up was the Oh Don Piano story, where a celebrity would be asked a question at a junket and the celeb would answer non-commitedly. Here’s how these exchanges work:
Press: A lot of fans are buzzing that you would make a great big screen version of Prez, the Teenage President. Would you do that role?
Celeb: If the script was good and there was a great director attached, I’d certainly think about it.
Press [into his cell phone, possibly right in the middle of the round table interview*]: Run this headline: Exclusive! Celeb will play Prez, The Teenage President!
Now the latest trend among desperate scoop seeker is ‘Taking a meeting.’ Here’s one example: Cinema Blend is running a ‘story’ that Michael Rosenbaum, the Lex Luthor of Smallville, had lunch with Michael Bay this weekend. Shocking stuff, I know, but Cinema Blend isn’t content with bringing you the latest scoop on who is sharing a meal, they then go into wild and retarded speculation that the meeting was about Platinum Dunes’ remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street and that Rosenbaum could be up for the role of Freddy Kreuger. Josh Tyler, the mouth breather who runs that site, did a lot of research on this one – he points out that Rosenbaum and original Freddy Robert Englund worked together on Urban Legend! That must mean something.
This has become so rampant that Shock Til You Drop’s Ryan Rotten and I were recently joking about starting a new site called TakingAMeeting.com, where we would just report who had lunch with who, and who went into whose office building. Maybe we could really hunt scoops: did you know that this actor uses the same dentist as this director? Could they be negotiating for a role while waiting for root canals? Only TakingAMeeting.com knows!
The truth is that everybody takes meetings all the time. I have a friend who is a director who gives me all sorts of awesome and hilarious taking a meeting stories – he gets called in for meetings on every genre project you can imagine. I know a number of screenwriters, and it seems like their secondary job description is ‘taking meetings.’ People take meetings in Hollywood in a general sense – ‘Hey, I’d like to work with you!’ People take meetings for the thrill – ‘Hey, I’ve always wanted to meet you!’ People take meetings for the free lunch – ‘Hey, I don’t have to eat Wendy’s today!’. Taking a meeting is so meaningless, and I don’t think I’ve seen a single real story come out of a meeting being taken. The story about Rob Zombie directing a Conan movie came out of someone seeing him taking a meeting, though.
I’m past wishing sites would second source their stories (although big props to Steve at Collider who second sources more thoroughly than anyone else in the biz) and I’ve just started wishing sites would stop running absolute bullshit as a story. Informed speculation is bad enough, but this taking a meeting crap is just plain old speculation. Basically when you’re running a story based on people taking a meeting (and you weren’t in that meeting), you’re making up a story.
So but hey, howzabout that Rosenbaum for Freddy? He’s already bald, you know. That must mean something too.