The phrase “time is money” has long applied to the world of celebrities, in which product endorsements and press junkets are nothing new. Even so, the recent celebrity a la carte fiasco at the Cannes Film Festival was too much for many members of the press to swallow.
Days before the festival kicked off, Canadian distributing company Alliance Films attempted to charge journalists for interview slots with talent from two films that are now festival favorites: “Killing Them Softly,” starring Brad Pitt, and “On the Road,” starring Kristen Stewart.
Carmite Cohen, vice-president of publicity and promotions for Alliance, previously said that the organization wasn’t charging an interview fee, but rather, “decided not to contribute to the costs of the Cannes junket.”
Cohen did not reply to email and telephone requests from ABC News for comment. A spokesperson for Alliance issued the following statement:
“Alliance decided not to participate in the junket in Cannes and wait until the North American junket later in the year, where Alliance will contribute to the junket costs, as it has always done, so that Canadian media can attend. Having made this decision, we felt it only fair to alert Canadian journalists so that they could choose to participate directly if they so wished, independent of Alliance. We informed them of the costs that we would be required to bear for that participation. We stress that the costs of such participation would not have come to Alliance nor talent but directly to the organizing distributor. Any implication that this is a revenue source for Alliance is wholly inaccurate.”
A press junket is one way motion pictures are promoted. While most press organizations carry the financial burden of sending reporters on interview assignments, or to events like Cannes, distributors typically foot the bill for any costs during the trip– travel, accommodation, meals. The journalist typically agrees to certain terms and conditions, such as “off limits” questions. The junkets are usually cost effective for distributors and production companies, since they generate publicity otherwise expensively procured through advertisements.
Those accustomed to covering celebs have no problem with things like paying their own way to events like Cannes, or convincing their editors to let them share hotel rooms with fellow journalists in order to attend celebrity-studded parties and galas — but most draw the line at the idea of handing over cash for interviews. Other distributors apparently feel the same, since no others seem to be following Alliance’s lead.
“We are told a Canadian distributor tried once, and it was urgently stopped,” a spokesperson for American film studio The Weinstein Company said, when asked about whether they would consider cutting junket costs.
Canadian film critic and blogger for Maclean’s published what he termed the Cannes “face time menu.” According to Alliance, the price for a roundtable with Stewart is approximately $950, while Pitt’s time is apparently much more precious, $15 a minute, to be precise. Alliance reportedly asked for approximately $3,000 per televised interview with the actor.