At Cannes, it is showbiz as usual

May 17, 2007

Talk about showmanship. Jerry Seinfeld and the makers of “Bee Movie” set Cannes buzzing on Thursday — the film festival’s second day — when Seinfeld dressed up as a bumble bee, strapped himself into a harness and rode a wire from Seinfeld performs stunt as bumble beethe top of a swanky hotel down to the beach.

Seinfeld performed the stunt in front of hundreds of photographers, television crews, reporters and movie fans lining the Croisette here. It was, as Seinfeld himself joked, a “movie promotion that smacks of desperation”. (see the story titled “DreamWorks chief downplays ‘Shrek’ record” at

But it was less desperation than the kind of good old Hollywood showmanship that has existed for years here at the world’s top film festival. Jeffrey Katzenberg, who runs DreamWorks, said he had been planning the stunt for a year, and certainly there will be many more promotions to come from other movie makers before the festival winds down.

For fans wanting to know exactly how reporters get all those star quotes about movies, here is the rundown. We don’t chase them around or, for that matter, follow them down wires dressed like bumble bees. After Seinfeld’s grand entry on the beach, reporters were gathered to sit down at round tables and ask the stars questions. The interview sessions are called, appropriately, “roundtables”. These types of interviews go on all over the world at any of the various film capitals — Los Angeles, New York, London, Hong Kong, you name it. And reporters get about 20 minutes to fire off questions about why stars make a particular film or what is, perhaps, interesting about it.

The stars go through hundreds of these types of interviews in a few days. Back at April’s “Spider-Man 3″ roundtables in Los Angeles, for instance, Tobey Maguire noted he had about 150 interviews in one day — many of those can be 3- or 5-minute TV spots.

It can get tiring, but as Chris Rock, who also stars in “Bee Movie,” noted on Thursday in Cannes, it’s all part of the business of putting on a show. “They don’t pay you to do movies, they pay you to sell movies,” Rock said. Rock said he would work in movies for free — if he had to — because he thinks of himself as a comic and entertainer first, and performers like him just want to make people laugh. Promoting movies, however, is different, and the studios who produce and market the films must pay. Still, Rock noted that being in show business — even if you’re riding down a wire in a bumble bee suit from eight stories high — is not all that bad. “The worst day in show business is better than the best day in a real job,” he said. And that, movie fans, is showbiz.


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This business of ’roundtable’ interview all sounds very civilised. But I’m wondering if it ever gets out of hand? And are you allowed to film these interviews? That would be good to see.

Posted by London calling | Report as abusive

Peter Bart from “Variety” called the stunt by Seinfeld part of the carnival that is Cannes.

Posted by Thomas H. | Report as abusive

Well, Bart should know, he’s been around a long time, and as for the ‘civilised’ roundtables, it is. Very. That was exactly the point, and I’m glad you read it that way.

Posted by Bob Tourtellotte | Report as abusive