I have a friend who is a professional journalist. He used to write celebrity profiles, but has stopped in order to focus on other subjects. I asked him why the change and he said, “I can’t stand the LIE factor in writing these profiles.” He said that at best the celebrities are boring, (occasionally stupid) or empty headed or simply don’t have much to say. At worst they are arrogant, rude, pretentious, egomaniacs and just plain awful to deal with. Either way his job was to make them all seem fascinating, friendly, accessible, glamorous and filled with depth and intelligence. He said it was all a monumental task in creative writing to say the least.
That’s why I find this profile of London Times profile of Gwyneth Paltrow by Janice Turner to be particularly interesting.
You almost NEVER see a journalist (at least here in America) be this honest and blunt when writing about a celebrity in a legitimate outlet. The tabloids are another story entirely. This London Times story could almost be viewed as mean spirited. The journalist says, “Certainly Paltrow, for all her beauty, class and talent, lacks a warmly loyal female fanbase. Perhaps because, unlike Ren?e Zellweger, say, she does not appear to need us. She seems too superior, too perfect… or at least is unwilling to reveal her flaws. Women admire her only as an upscale fashion plate. Moreover she gives the impression of entitlement, as if her golden career is something she was born to, but maybe it was. Certainly when she refers to herself as ‘an artist’ I muse that few British actors would use that lofty term. And when I ask if she dreams up her own projects, sees characters in books or history she’d love to play, she says, with supreme confidence that the world will offer up its prizes: ‘You know, I always believe that the right thing finds me.’”
This article is 180 degrees opposite the Vogue cover story written by Plum Sykes who seems to worship the ground Paltrow walks on.
It is interesting how two different stories can represent two wildly opposite points of view about the same person.
I tend to agree with my friend though that a great deal of celebrity journalism is one great big lie. Having worked in the industry, I have heard many stories and seen many of these people up close. The truth is never what it appears to be.
If you haven’t seen the documentary SHARKWATER, it is now on DVD and I highly recommend checking it out. It follows photographer and marine biologist Rob Stewart and his quest to save sharks from extinction. This isn’t your dry, boring PBS type of documentary though. It is also a human drama and a thriller as well. It really opens your eyes and makes a passionate case for awareness of what is happening in our oceans around the world. Millions of sharks are being slaughtered as the result of a fishing process called “finning” where a shark is pulled out of the ocean, it’s fins are sliced off and then it is tossed back in the water to die. This has resulted in a devastating loss of the shark population and threatens to upset the entire ecological balance of the ocean. I have always loved sharks and I managed to get Warner Bros. Home Video to set me up with an interview with the Rob Stewart. In addition to being the photographer and marine biologist, he also wrote, directed and produced this film. In speaking to him, I found him to be incredibly mature, well spoken and wise far beyond his years.
When did you see your first shark in real life?
I was 9 in the Cayman Islands. I met sharks before that when I had been fishing, but it wasn’t as impactful for me. Instead of eating me, the shark was actually afraid of me. As a young impressionable kid who didn’t want to be afraid of things, it was really impactful.
Have you ever done a dive with Great White Sharks?
Were you in a cage at the time?
No. Everybody that films doesn’t use cages. When you see a cage on TV, there is someone outside the cage filming.
How did that feel?
Being underwater with sharks is one of the coolest experiences you can imagine. To have those around you is really cool. When you see the animals that the myth has been perpetuated through for decades it all turns out to be false.
How do you approach them?
As long as you have something between you and them, you’re cool. Most of the sharks that bite people don’t eat them. The intention of the shark isn’t to do human harm. Usually when they bite someone, they realize it isn’t something they like and let go of it. If it knows what you are, then it will leave you alone. They are very skittish and afraid. The shark doesn’t want to risk getting injured. If a shark gets injured, then it can’t get food and then it is screwed.
How do you feel about shark tours? I understand that those have become a popular cottage industry.
Those are actually pretty safe. I think there is one fatality in the history of diving with sharks. The only people who are afraid of sharks are only people who have met them underwater. Many inlands have discovered that sharks are worth more money alive in the water than they are dead. People get to see the world’s most deadly predator and they see how they are amazing creatures and not at all how they are portrayed in the media.
Do you think the film JAWS has done a lot of damage in terms of giving people the wrong impression about sharks?
It did. It came at a time when people knew nothing about sharks. The film became fact and this predator of people became such a man hunter. After it came out, people began killing sharks.
How did you manage to keep so calm during the many problems that plagued the shoot?
Yeah, to be honest I just jumped into this not knowing anything. I was banking on my ability to take still pictures and everything went catastrophically wrong. The hardest part the hospital scene was the fact that I was laughing and smiling at the hospital scene. It was wild. I have always known things to work out well and they always do. When I get negative, I wait for the positive to come around and it usually does. We stumbled upon a cool formula, take a conservation message and find a way to make it younger, hipper and find a way to get people on the mission. That formula works because it delivers the messages you want in a more palatable way.
What is your next project?
Making a movie about how humans are going to survive the next 100 years. We’re screwed as a species unless we change dramatically. There is a critical mass of things that happen in any revolution.
If you look at the world from an outside perspective, our society, economy and industry is dependent on the destruction of the natural world.
What other projects would you like to tackle in the future?
We are doing a TV series based on ocean conservation where each episode is about conservation where people follow us on a different issue. I made Sharkwater because it is the most important issue I could think of making. In 2010 when the next movie is done it might be a different situation.
What can the average person do to help save sharks?
The biggest facing the oceans is awareness. No one knows what is going on and we waste 54 billion pounds of fish a year while 8 million people die of starvation. Fisheries waste 85% of what they kill and it is thrown back in the ocean. Every single fishery will have collapsed by 2048. If people KNEW what was going on and if they realized we need to preserve the ecosystem and if they realized the gravity of the situation….
Besides awareness, is there something more concrete that people can do?
Joining Greenpeace or joining another environmental organization, sign petitions. There is no policy without public pressure. The Monterey Bay Aquarium prints up these cards that can inform you about this. Vote with your dollars.
View the SHARKWATER Official Website and learn more about how you can get involved!
I saw this article in Variety about Russia’s oldest film complex, Moscow’s Gorky Studios being put up for sale. This is a terrible thing. I wish I had the money or resources to save it. If I were to win the lottery, I would surely be broke in a matter of months because I would use all of my winnings (after paying off my student loan debt) to purchase and restore movie palaces and other historic structures. I just hate the idea of history being obliterated so a condo complex can be built. Every time a structure like that is lost, a bit of the city or country’s personality and soul is taken away as well.
Ok, I’m off to 7-11 to purchase a lottery ticket. Wish me luck.
I am terribly allergic to cats, but I love this kitten named “Nera Bambina”. I am drawn to her like a moth to the flame. She is very funny and can play for hours with a tissue or post-it note. She belongs to a very good friend of mine who is also a fantastic film historian. Nera has seen more films than perhaps any feline alive. You can often find her perched on top of an antique camera or a file cabinet taking in a classic movie.
I love this picture of her!
I read this article in the NY Times this morning about an arthouse theatre in the unlikely place of Omaha, Nebraska!
I found this to be really inspiring! My family lives in Georgia and every time I got home, I lament the lack of cinematic diversity. I also think many people have misconceptions about arthouse films, like the person in this article who didn’t know that foreign films have subtitles. I think if you just encourage people to try arthouse films, they might really enjoy it and broaden their horizons. Every time I go home, I bring several DVDs with me and show new (or at least very different) films to my parents. They have really suprised me with their reactions. I also have to give them credit, as they have always been very game about watching whatever I decide to bring home. Fortunately someone has started a local film society in their town, so at least that’s something.
I greatly admire what Rachel Jacobson has done in setting up FilmStreams. I seriously need to meet her!
Recently someone was talking to me about FilmRadar and they referred to me as a film critic. I immediately said, “OH NO I’m not a critic—-not at all!!!” Admittedly, my tone was very defensive. Then it left me wondering why I had such an immediate revulsion to that comment and specifically to the word “critic.” By definition to be a critic means to criticize. When I was in film school, I remember that the criticism was so painful. It often left me feeling belittled and discouraged. I felt as if I had no talent and no potential to ever develop any. I have spoken with other people I went to school with who felt the same way. I guess for anyone who is creative, encouragement or a positive word is much like oxygen.
Sometimes people send me little fan e-mails about FilmRadar and often site certain movies they saw and enjoyed that were posted on the calendar, etc. I actually save every one of these e-mails. When I have a terrible day, these e-mails help me. They remind me that my work is on some small level being enjoyed. They give me hope to keep on keeping on. I guess the label of “critic” carries with it (for me at least) some very negative connotations.
Then in a separate conversation someone introduced me as a “historian”. While I didn’t get annoyed by that, I demurred and said that I didn’t feel right with that label. I always saw a historian as someone who had books and articles published and/or a Master’s or PHD. I have a BA in Film and have done the historic cemetery tour at Hollywood Forever for 6 years now and been on TCM….but I don’t know that it makes me a historian.
I guess I would describe myself as a film enthusiast or connoisseur or even aficionado. I hate labels to be honest.
Just don’t call me a critic!