Vice Session

A Miami Vice press conference happened at the Four Seasons late Friday afternoon. I rode down on my bike and arrived about 25 minues in front. I was talking to a couple of friends before the show began about all the cottonball questions that always get asked at these things. So with 15 minutes to go (or around 4:25 pm), I walked up to the conference table where the talent would be sitting, picked up one of the little black mikes and addressed the 30 or 40 journalists in the room.
“I’d like to make a brief announcement,” I said. “I’m just one guy and you guys ask what you want, but since we’ll only have 30 minutes with the talent it would be nice, just speaking for myself, if everyone here would cut back a bit on the typical Us magazine softball questions in order to leave time for more substantive ques- tions. I’m just saying…you know, it would be nice if that happened.”

Miami Vice director-writer-producer Michael Mann (center, shortish gray hair) with stars (l. to. r.) Naomie Harris, Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Gong Li and Li’s interpeter at today’s Universal-sponsored press conference at Four Seasons hotel — 7.16.06, 4:40 pm.

Miami Vice director Michael Mann and stars Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Gong Li and Naomie Harris walked in around 4:40 pm, the press conference began, and the first seven or eight or nine questions were almost all cottonball stuff. A fair portion of the these questions came from a cluster of female African-American journalists with a certain ampleness of phsyique. They were partly the reason I made my little speech beforehand. One look and I knew.
The softballers asked questions about the ’80s TV series, about why didn’t Mann use the TV theme song, how did Foxx and Harris handle their sex scenes and how did Farrell and Gong Li handle their sex scenes? And then more questions about comparisons to the film and the ’80s TV series and how come the movie was so dark and not warmer and funnier, like the TV series was on occasion?
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Foxx answered every question with charm and humor. He’s a natural entertainer, and everyone in the first two rows was making goo-goo eyes at him and having fits of laughter every time he did a bit (which was often). I’m not saying he’s not funny — he is — but you could take the obsequiousness and the obeisance-before-power in that room and cut it with a knife.
I asked Foxx the one semi-tough question of the day, which I put as follows: “Jamie, you’re a good guy in person and you obviously play one of the good guys in the film, but in the world of Kim Masters’ article that went up on Slate today, you’re kind of the bad guy. That’s how you’re portrayed, I mean. And it’s out there and people are reading it, and it seems fair to ask if the piece is accurate. Is it?”

Foxx kind of rolled his shoulders and smiled and eyeballed me and shrugged. He might have said something but I don’t remember what it was. Six or seven seconds passed, and then Mann stepped into the breach. “I think it’s ridiculous…really ridiculous,” he said. It’s wrong? I asked. The article is inaccurate? And then Mann started in about the “process” and the hurricanes and particulars about the guy that got shot and how he always makes sure that his sets are extra-safe.
But he didn’t get into the thing about Jamie Foxx and his entourage leaving the Dominican Republic location after the shooting, and how, according to Masters’ article, this abrupt departure forced Mann to end the film in Miami rather than an earlier ending that was set in Paraguay. Then Foxx chimed in and then Farrell did also, and they were all locked and unified in their view that shit happens, the process is the process, we made this film together and we’re standing (or at least sitting) together right now, and we’re not getting into Kim Masters’ view of it.
I spoke to Mann later in front of the hotel, and said, “I just realized what you meant when you said Kim’s piece was ridiculous. You meant that her way of looking at the shoot was ridiculous.” He kind of nodded and went into an extension of that earlier complex thought about the totality of the process and the ebb and flow of creativity (while briefly alluding to a factual wrongo or two that I didn’t question him about), and so on.
Pics: (a) Looking northeast at Beverly Hills and West Hollywood from the 14th floor balcony of the Four Seasons hotel — Friday, 7.14.06, 5:25 pm; (b) Colin Farrell (l. blue shirt) being questioned by Boston Herald‘s Stephen Schaefer with Gong Li in-between after this afternoon’s press conference; (c) Post-press conference chit-chat with Gong Li — Friday, 7.14.06, 5:15 pm; (d) Jamie Foxx signing autographs (yes, journalists ask for them after these events) — Friday, 7.14.06, 5:17 pm; (3) Jamie Foxx’s silver Lamborghini outside Four Seasons hotel after Miami Vice press conference — Friday, 7.14.06, 5:40 pm.