Thursday 23 November 2017

Anton Savage: Are you talking to me? Better not ask me any stupid questions

Actor Robert Robert De Niro
Actor Robert Robert De Niro
National Ploughing Championships
Victoria Beckham

Robert De Niro walked out on an interview while promoting his new film The Intern.

Emma Brockes from the Radio Times apparently offended the acting legend by asking if he thought his beloved Tribeca district of Manhattan was being overrun by bankers and if he ever went on autopilot while filming.

She says he started pacing, asked her to turn off her recorder, accused her of making negative inferences and then humped off. Now, ol’ Bob has a bit of a reputation for being a less than forthcoming interviewee – David Letterman went so far as to pair him with Dustin Hoffman so the latter could act like a kind of interpreter for him during their chat.

In this instance, it’s particularly hard to see De Niro’s side of things. He’s a multi-millionaire doing a round of interviews to sell a product. He could have just been polite, said what he wanted to say and gone home.

Problem is, the process these people go through is almost designed to cause blow-ups.

Every Hollywood celeb with a movie to promote undertakes a world tour, wherein they are flown into a country, and put through an industrial process of ‘chat’. They are either locked in a hotel room and journalist after journalist is sent into them, or they are locked in a radio studio and connected remotely to station after station.

One actor I interviewed told me their average day was nine hours of consecutive 10-minute interviews. Another told me they had done more than 300 interviews on their movie by the time they got to Ireland.

The problem with all this is that the audiences in each jurisdiction have a limited curiosity about a new film. ‘Tell us about your new movie?’ ‘Why’d you pick it?’ ‘What about that thing you were in the news for recently?’ That’s basically it. So the actors get asked these questions again and again and again.

The journalists all too often  end up with jaded, angry and bored interviewees, who say the exact same sentences verbatim 300 times.

The task for the journalist is to find something new, something different. But the celeb’s ‘people’ will ban personal questions or anything that strays from the movie.


Emma Brockes clearly put some thought into areas which might reveal something even a little unusual about De Niro. She learned of his love of Tribeca and asked something that (from a nicer man) might have drawn a happy treatise on the wonder of the region.

Instead Bob lit into her. Because he was tetchy and precious. We get it Bob – selling the product which makes you astonishingly rich is boring.

But spare a thought for the journalist – she sat through your crappy movie. She spent hours reading up on you. She possibly waited hours to meet with you. She was trying to find a way to engage, charm, question and finish in 10 minutes, thereby making a more enticing interview – all the better to flog tickets. And she earns a pittance compared to you.

So grow some empathy and some charm.


Take him to church? But for Hozier it really has to be his sort of Church


Hozier hits out at the Catholic Church in his appearance on TV show The Meaning of Life this Sunday.

He says that he has strong opinions on what issues that church should keep its nose out of and 'what authority it does not have', citing in particular issues of sexuality and relationships.

He's taken a paradoxical stance that's all too common when it comes to the Catholic Church - giving out about Catholics being Catholic.

The days of the Catholic Church controlling the State and broader society are long passed.

Now it's just a church, preaching to its own. Like the Jewish church preaches to Jews, and the Church of the Latter Day Saints preaches to Mormons and Anglicans to Anglicans.


If you disagree fundamentally with the teaching of any of those churches surely the answer is to not be in them? If you are not Catholic, why criticise that church in particular? And if you are Catholic, why do you believe you can re-define the parameters of a religion which predates you for more than 2,000 years.

It has competence in the area of relationships because that's at the heart of its teaching. But only Catholic relationships, of course.

Unless Hozier is longing for a time past when there was a conservative repressive Catholic establishment entangling society and entwining church and state, maybe he should just get over it?

Religions are like the Department of Social Welfare - they have a particular interest in births deaths and marriages. It's what they do.

Telling them to keep their noses out of those areas is like telling them not to go on about God so much. If you don't like it, atheism, agnosticism and humanism are easy choices.


Where's ploughing at The Ploughing?

National Ploughing Championships

For the first time in my life I was at the Ploughing Championships. And I bought a stick - it was a big day. I didn't know what the stick was for but they seemed to be de rigeur, so I went for it. Turns out it's for patting a cow on the backside while herding, so I will probably have limited use for it. Still, you never know.

The oddest thing about the Ploughing Championship was the absence of any obvious ploughing. Any previous event of this nature I've attended focuses on the thing it's named after. The Phoenix Park Races is centred around racing. The Ryder Cup has a lot of golf.

But other than the title, you could spend several days at the Ploughing Championships and leave thinking it was a trade fair.


Water mistake Victoria's made

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham has been pictured leaving a nightclub looking a bit like she wet her pants. Only she will ever know if this is the case.

But she made a critical error in how she handled the issue. Anyone who has dropped a drink into their crotch should know the simple rule - if the area you have drenched makes others think you have peed on your self, then the only dignified action is to buy another drink, and pour it on your chest.

Everyone who sees you will think you are the clumsiest person in the world and an embarrassment. But they won't think you've peed on yourself. So win-win. And if Victoria has gotten to her age and not learned this, the least David (inset) could have done was drench her before they left.

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