Drew: Totally a win. Especially because my rebuttal forced him to actually add a link in his HuffPost Livejournal to our original article that he was complaining about. That’s the power of change. That being said, the idea of pissing people off or hurting their feelings in a real way makes me very uncomfortable. If he had sent a private note, I would have felt like shit. But since he wrote an insane, incoherent essay about it in The Huffington Post, I feel nothing but glee.
Jen: What’s the best response? I mean, as a general rule, I think when people get mad about something you’ve written you should, “never complain, never explain.” Because you’ll dig yourself into a pretty deep pit.
Drew: Well, the biggest rule for celebrities is to never respond on Twitter. Twitter is where celebrities go to ruin their careers by saying horrible, stupid things. And for journalists, it’s like blood in the water. As a journalist receiving legitimate criticism though, the biggest rule is to not respond immediately. Take your time, think about how you want to handle the situation. It’s good to think like a PR person: how do you want to manage your image? Anything you write on email can be used by another journalist unless you are off the record, so the best response is usually a well-considered response. And those take time.
Jen: Do you worry about your image with these things? I mean, I actually feel like the journalists who do not do well are the ones who are afraid to ever take shots at celebrities and cling to the notion that one day they will wake up and they will be a celebrity themselves. I don’t think that ever worked for anyone, ever.
Drew: No, fawning celebrity and social columnists are pointless, but I think if you give people a fair shake, and can be funny about it, why, whose to say you can’t be the next Liz Smith or Aileen Mehle?
Jen: Liz Smith did have a super close relationship with celebrities, in part because she was willing to let them help mold the story. But that was before the Internet, When the story could be, to some extent, controlled.
Drew: But she also wasn’t afraid to call out b.s. Right. I think the problem with celebrities in the age of the Internet (I just threw up writing that) is that they can cut out the middle man by doing their own publicity on Twitter, Reddit’s AMA, or what have you. And they really, really, really can’t. If anything, it’s just extra fodder to mock them. They do themselves a disservice by refusing to talk to the press, because they think they can control the public’s perception of them.
Jen: There’s such a good line All About Eve.
Drew: there’s more than one!
Jen: High five through the Internet. The one where the social scribe Addison DeWitt say that magazines keep persisting in writing articles where they insist stars are “just like us”, which is ludicrous, because their whole appeal is that stars are nothing like us.
Drew: God, George Sanders was great in that role. He’s the perfect social reporter: a bitchy Greek chorus who doesn’t take sides.
Jen: BE LIKE HIM. But without all the weird sexual blackmailing, maybe?
Drew: My goal in life is to one day tell a star: “You have a point. An idiotic one, but a point.”
Jen: So. Wrapping up. How should/do you respond when famous people hate you?
Drew: Well, it depends on how they approach it. If it’s an issue with a snarky tone in a piece, I’m more than happy to discuss it with them over the phone…or even better, over drinks. There’s nothing wrong with making amends…especially if it gets you the inside scoop to a subject. And as terrible and snarky as journalists can be, they also can be immensely generous, if you give them reason to respect you. I’m not saying I can make or break James Franco. But if he keeps responding to blog posts with lengthy Huffington Post articles, someone is going to. Break him, I mean. Actually, he might already be broken.
Jen : So the correct answer is not “drink bourbon and cry.”
Drew: I’d like to say one thing to Mr. Franco, if he’s still listening: “You’re maudlin and full of self-pity. You’re magnificent!”