A day as a junior showbiz journalist

In my last post I said

as a work experience lackey at a magazine I don’t exactly get the most thrilling tasks; I’m not the one interviewing celebrities. I’m pretty much chained to my desk, writing up the stuff that nobody else wants to/has time to do.

Well, my ungrateful little self takes that right back. Yesterday I was treated to a preview screening of footage from Titanic in 3D with some nice canapés and a highly illuminative Q&A with Jon Landau, the film’s producer. Then in the evening I went to the premiere for Madonna’s new film W.E, where I interviewed celebrities, including the queen of pop herself. Oops.

It was good experience. It sounds like it was very glamorous but I enjoyed it more for the insight it gave me into the industry than for standing outdoors, fingers gradually numbing from the cold in order to catch a few snippets from celebrities.

I was surprised at how un-starstruck I was. True, my mind went a bit blank when a star would be led over, but mostly because I had nothing I really wanted to ask them; certainly nothing that would be relevant to the magazine that hadn’t already been asked a million times. It was fun, don’t get me wrong, and I got some funny quotes, but a famous person is just that – a person, who is famous. No closer in the flesh than on a screen; just a little more normal.

Much more interesting were my fellow commoners, such as the warm and kindly PR folks, the mild-mannered young gentleman from The Mail who bought me a cuppa, and the two lovely ladies from Hello and Grazia magazines squashed beside me in the press pens. They were all charming, engaging and only too willing to share their own experiences and tips. I eavesdropped with interest on the jargon-filled conversations of the journalists around me, most of whom knew one another already.

Showbiz journalism is mad. People all over the place; people are the focus. You’re trying to engage with an individual while PAs and publicists float around glaring, silently shouting at you to wind it the hell up. I was fortunate I had a good first time; my movie premiere cherry was popped gently. I had fun people around me with whom to share the experience. It was high-energy and hilarious and I enjoyed it enormously, mostly because I didn’t take it seriously. I can see how seductive this world must be for some, and how distasteful for others.

What a contrast to the calm, easy-going and non-celebrity-focussed culture in Lausanne. Swiss celebrities don’t really exist, except for Roger Federer; most of the French media comes from France. A mellow Swiss girl I met at a party once told me that if a Swiss person saw a celebrity, the reaction would be pretty bland: oh look, a famous person. Cool. That explains why so many Hollywood stars have homes in Switzerland. And the tax breaks, of course.

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