How much of the current 20th Century Fox-vs.-internet critic hoo-hah is about simple communication skills, or a lack thereof? The thorniest relationship problems have a way of disappearing like that when this or that combatant decides to apply a little charm and openness and friendly back-pats. And yet I’ve long noticed a curious reluctance on the part of certain Fox publicists to being responsive and friendly (as opposed to be polite or “correct”) and talking frankly about things — the upper-crusters believe they’re too good to actually talk to writers who don’t work for Newsweek or the N.Y. Times — and returning phone calls.
These tendencies, I’ve found time in the past, are usually rooted in the personality of this or that senior executive. Frosty butch-boss publicists are unfortunately a fact of life in this town. You have to get over them or get around them or placate them or something, but they’re not going to go away. I could name five or six of the worst ones right now, but what would that get me? It’s usually best to just ignore them and do your work, and then six months down the road you’ve forgotten what the fight was about and so have they and it’s back to business as usual.
What’s happed in the Fox situation is that hissy-fitters have poisoned the well by refusing to return calls or be truthful (I was apparently lied to about Chicago Film Critics Assn. boycott being a non-starter) or communicate quickly about this or that, and many journalists have become irate about this and now there’s a “situation.” Needlessly. And yet once these things start, it’s hard putting out the fires.
Right now everyone hates Big Fox (although Fox Searchlight is totally cool …they’re not in this in my book) and online critics all over the country are voicing complaints, writing pieces about these complaints and pledging solidarity with the Chicago Film Critics Assn. boycott on features about Big Fox and Fox Searchlight films. “Twentieth Century Fox is on the edge of an internet publicity crisis,” L.A. Times reporter Gina Piccalo has written.
This will all go away sooner or later. It always does. Besides, who cares about Babylon AD, Starship Dave, Alvin & The Chipmunks, Alien vs Predator 2? These are all instant dumpers in my mind. The only one that looks good is Doug Liman‘s Jumper…maybe.