Danny Boyle‘s Steve Jobs premiered on 9.5.15 at the Telluride Film Festival. There was a thing that happened at Universal’s after-party that I’ll never forget. The reactions to Boyle’s film were up and down, this and that. Outside of the gladhanders, nobody I spoke to in the immediate aftermath was 100% about it.
I knew as I approached the gathering at 221 South Oak I knew I’d have to be careful not to say anything too candid. But I nonetheless found myself speaking quite honestly to First Showing‘s Alex Billington, and I soon realized he felt as I did, to wit: Jobs was a good, respectable, well-acted film, but it wasn’t very likable.
Boyle, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, costars Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen, three or four Universal publicists and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak were right nearby but we were cautious and careful. We kept our voices down to a murmur.
The small party began to fill up, and then Hollywood Reporter award-season columnist Scott Feinberg walked in and I went “hey, Scott!” and motioned him over, and without giving the invitation a moment’s thought Scott smiled but at the same time shook his head and went “noooo…no, no” (in a gesturing sense at least) and kept on walking toward the rear of the restaurant.
“What was that about?,” Billington asked.
“He doesn’t want to discuss anything with the filmmakers standing ten feet away,” I speculated. “He probably figured I’d challenge or debate him and he doesn’t want to do that within spitting distance of Seth Rogen. He’s just being careful.”
The general after-party etiquette is as follows: (1) An invited journo is obliged to be as fawning and gracious and complimentary as possible when speaking to talent or studio reps, although he/she is not obliged to lie outright about his/her reaction to the film in question; and (2) It is permissible for journos to mutter their true opinion of the film with colleagues if they happen to be out of earshot of talent or studio reps.