Sam Rubin, an entertainment reporter for Los Angeles TV station KTLA’s morning news, told a story on air earlier this week about Ben Affleck’s PR people’s curious demands during his press junket for The Accountant. Before we get into this, some of you may remember his interview with E!, where he was asked “are you surprised at how interested people are in you and Jen’s successful coparenting?” He answered tersely “very little surprises me” and then the video had a transition which cut to the next question. There may have been a reason for that. In Rubin’s segment, which you can see above, he showed a part of the interview in which he got cut off by a PR person for asking Ben a question sbout the culture of celebrity. To his credit Ben answered it thoughtfully, but then the PR guy cut in and told them to stick to the movie. Rubin excoriated the people running the junket for doing that, and for deleting segments of other interviews that they didn’t want to be released. Here’s what he said and if you don’t feel like reading this you can watch the six minute video above.
Sam Rubin, in studio: At the junket on Sunday, I both witnessed and experienced something so shocking, so unprofessional, I think it could seriously derail the prospects of the movie. The story I’m about to tell you shows complete contempt not only for me, but for you… imagine my genuine shock and surprise when after we talk about the movie the conversation veers into something maybe a bit more interesting and the PR dope who was in the room actually interrupts us.
Cut to Rubin, in interview with Affleck: There’s so much attention now, kind of paid to everything you do. You blink because you know it’s true. Is that the blessing or the burden?
Affleck: It’s a little bit absurd, I assure you I’m not all that interesting. My regular daily life is pretty mundane. I take kids to school, I drop them off. I go do my job. But it’s just part of the culture of celebrity that’s evolved. It’s also part of emerging technologies, there’s more real estate for stories and there aren’t very many stories.
Rubin: This whole notion that it’s part of the deal…
PR guy cuts in: Can we stick to the film please?
Back to Rubin in studio, editorializing: I’m furious at myself because I should have just said “Look PR dope, I’ve done this forever for the number one morning show in Los Angeles, the one with potentially the largest potential audience to see this show. Don’t interrupt me and don’t tell me how to interview people.” I couldn’t believe it.
Rubin saw PR people editing other interviews to cut segments unflattering to Ben
I’m so mad at myself but wait it gets worse. After you do these interview you go to another room to pick up these digital cards of the interview you just conducted… when I walked in to pick up my card… studio people were actually editing someone else’s interview because he made a joke in that interview about drug use. They were taking out a remark he had made of his own free will and cutting it out of the interview they were giving to somebody. This was not the only interview that was censored on Sunday.
[From KTLA video]
Then Rubin said he wouldn’t have done the junket or promoted the movie if he knew that they were trying to censor the journalists and stars of the movie. He also said he wasn’t aware if Ben was the one behind the censorship or if his PR people thought that’s what he wanted. He was super pissed.
Hecate lives in LA and she said that Rubin has a good reputation there, but she reminded me that he’s also the journalist who mistook Samuel L. Jackson for Laurence Fishburne, after which he apologized. I don’t do press junkets so I can’t say how common these kind of demands are, but Rubin is acting as if they’re very out of the ordinary and he’s not taking it. It does sound extreme to even edit out parts of the interview that they don’t approve of. Are we surprised at this though, coming from the guy who asked PBS to censor the fact that one of his ancestors had slaves?
Photos credit: FameFlynet and PRPhotos