Cannes you put a price on a Brad Pitt interview?

Journalists were asked to pay for the privilege of talking to A-List stars about their films - surely this can't become the norm, says Stella Papamichael

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As wages decline and energy prices soar, a few Canadian capitalists have apparently decided that it’s time to start charging for air. Hot air, that is.

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At the Cannes Film Festival this week, Canadian journos were told they’d have to shell out for face-time with stars like Brad Pitt. Publicists even issued a menu (below), flogging A-List flesh like (overpriced) hamburgers.

But the irony might have been too rich too stomach when Brad arrived on Tuesday evening to introduce his gangster film Killing Them Softly, saying he was hooked by the script because it was “making a commentary” on our consumerist society.

Poor Brad. Presumably, he wasn’t at the marketing meeting where it was decided that he – along with other stars like Kristen Stewart – could be packaged up and served to the media at premium rates.

If he had been there he might have rethought his treatise on the global financial crisis, as reflected in his portrait of a hit-man. “We were certainly at the apex of the mortgage loan debacle,” he said. “I felt that I was reading a gangster film and it wasn’t until the very end that it coalesced for me as far as what the direction of the film is pointing to overall — that this microcosm is actually saying something about the macro world.”

Uh. The what, now? Macro World…? Isn’t that a supermarket where you can buy 100 jars of pickled onions for a fiver? (Surely, Brad doesn’t shop there.)

Fortunately, nobody had to shell out for those pearls of wisdom, and Brad could also throw in for free that it was “criminal” that there “still haven’t been any criminal repercussions” for the greedy bankers who got us into this mess.

But what about the people trying to hawk his film?

In this case, it’s the Canadian outfit Alliance Atlantis who are distributing Killing Them Softly and Kristen Stewart’s film On The Road (based on the Jack Kerouac novel). It should be noted, however, that Harvey Weinstein tried this cash-for-questions strategy at Cannes in 2007, charging all journalists $1500 for a place at the Death Proof junket. It didn’t go down well, especially with the folks at Deadline.

Nonetheless, it seems the credit crunch has got backs against the wall at Alliance Atlantis. Carmite Cohen, Vice President of Publicity and Promotions tried to defend their position in response to an article by affronted Canadian journalist Brian D Johnson.

“Junkets for the press are typically organised by a film’s producers. Distributors (like Alliance) are charged for access to those junkets. The journalists and their employers never see these charges as the distributors absorb them. In this case, Alliance decided not to contribute to the costs of the Cannes junket, which we found to be exorbitant.”

She went on to add, “There is absolutely no economic benefit derived by Alliance from this opportunity.”

Really? Surely by asking journalists to foot the cost of publicising their films, they create a healthier profit margin, which could be used for, say, providing Brad with extra lobster rolls on his private jet journey from…wherever he’s living these days. Dream Land…?

Okay, it’s not Brad’s fault, really. He exists in a bubble of rarefied and, apparently, very expensive air and it’s the publicists who are responsible for inflating it. That bubble is at serious risk of popping, though, because no reputable publication would pay just to be a cog in the studio’s publicity machine, would they?

I wonder, what would Brad think at being sold off in 20-minute segments? Has anyone dared ask him about it? Can someone lend me two-and-a-half grand?

Here’s the pricelist that Canadian journalists have been reporting:

Killing Them Softly

€3,000– TV Interviews

€2,500– Print 1on1s

€2,000 – Print Roundtables [group interviews]

Talent Available:

Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Andrew Dominik (Writer & Director)

Note: No Print 1:1 requests for Pitt. Talent will be paired for interviews

On the Road

€1,500 TV interviews (for a package of four individual interviews with Walter Salles, Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart)

€1,000 per interview for one-on-one print interviews (Available Talent: Walter Salles, Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart)

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€750 per interview for roundtable (Available Talent: Walter Salles, Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart)