James Franco and the sad state of celebrity journalism

Posted by David Konow

Recently, TG Daily ran a story where we pleaded for the end of celebrity journalism, because it's really just getting ridiculous.

If you recall, there was a recent Chris Evans cover story where the writer made it clear she had the hots for him, or maybe that was her idea of a clever journalistic way to frame the story.

Writing for GQ, perhaps Edith Zimmerman also thought she was being clever claiming she drank too much, thus some gaping holes in her reporting, but maybe that was just her way of being funny. Patrick Goldstein of the L.A. Times called it the worst celebrity profile he's ever read, and having been in the biz for a long time, he's sure to have read plenty of brain dead fluff in his day.

James Franco and the sad state of celebrity journalismBut it also seems that lately a lot of celebrity journalism pins its hopes on whoever you're interviewing will make a fool of themselves, and earn you major headlines as a result.

A good example is Playboy's interview last year with John Mayer, which caused the singer/guitarist no end of trouble.
 
Exhibit B is the James Franco interview in the last month's issue of Playboy, which coincided with the release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and thankfully after this interview, the movie still did well.

The cover has one of Charlie Sheen's former goddesses in a featured spread, which is so three months ago as it is, but Franco not only tried to deflect the blame for his Oscar hosting, using the time honored dodge of throwing the writers under the bus, but he also talked about a gay rumor he threatened to sue a website over, a rumor many probably had no idea even existed until he gave TMI to Playboy, and now it's everywhere.

Celebrities are usually well trained by people a lot smarter than they are to be bland as possible in interviews, and you almost feel sorry for celebs who just can't help making fools of themselves, or who can't learn how to make writers feel like they've got something interesting when they've really said nothing.

Franco tried this with Lawrence Grobel, one of the best interviewers around who got impossible to nail down actors like Brando and Pacino to talk. But as Grobel reported in his book, The Art of the Interview, where he recalled the celebrity profile wars, in trying to be vague, Franco just came across as self-important, like answering any question, no matter how innocuous, was going to take away his mystique as an actor.
 
There's really nothing more annoying than actors who treat their craft like rocket science, like they can't give away the secrets of their magic, or even try to placate some journalist trying to make a living with anything remotely interesting. 

Then again, as I discovered interviewing a lot of musicians, good luck looking for depth where there isn't any, and perhaps this is why writers have to try extra hard to make their stories interesting or newsworthy.
 
Again, as I've pleaded before, perhaps it's time we stopped talking to actors because it may not be worth the effort in the first place. I'd also hate to think that entertainment journalism will eventually become the exact same celebrity "making a fool out of themselves story" every month - with little more than interchangeable actors.