Matt and Greg Used to Interview Movie Stars

Questions & Answers

What was your first junket, and what do you remember about it?

Matt:

“Chaplin.” December 5, 1992. The interviews were, in this order: Moira Kelly, Oona O’Neill, Robert Dowey, Jr., Sir Richard Attenborough, Dan Aykroyd, producer Diana Hawkins and Geraldine Chaplin.

I was a 22-year-old college intern at L.E.G. Productions. I had been working there, unpaid, since September, and all I had done up until that point was answer phones, file, and pull soundbites from the cassette tapes for the radio shows. It had been pretty boring, but I was getting college credit for it, so it was fine. Then right when my internship was about to end, they decided to send me to a junket as kind of a send-off reward. I remember that there was a discussion about whether or not I was ready to do it, if I could handle it. But there was no one else to send, and they wanted the tape, so they ultimately decided that I would probably not embarrass them too much out in the field. So they showed me how the equipment worked, and off I went. I did not ask any questions at these interviews, because I had no experience yet as an interviewer, and the rooms were always intimidating to newcomers. But the tapes I brought back sounded fine, so it was all good. A few weeks later, the company offered me a part time minimum wage paying job, and before I accepted, my first question was, “Will I get to do more junkets?”

A few years later, when I was the one running the radio division, and I was in charge of our interns, I sent them to junkets on Day One. Internships are supposed to be learning experiences, right? I wanted our interns to get to do fun stuff in addition to their office work.

Greg:

“Falling From Grace” was a John Mellencamp film. Biggest memory was interviewing Mariel Hemingway. I was totally nervous at the time, since “Manhattan” was one of my favorite films.

How long did it take you to start asking questions aggressively, and what did it take to get you to that point?

Matt:

Probably a few months. And even when I did, it was tentative and a little awkward. I asked some bad questions at the beginning. Trying to get people to re-tell stories I had already read them telling in magazines. The phrasing of those questions was not conversational, and I cringe when I think about it now. I specifically remember Matthew Broderick staring at me with a puzzled look on his face, going, “What are you asking me?” and me getting flustered and saying, “Never mind,” handing the moment off to someone else and feeling humiliated. What helped me to eventually get better was doing one-on-one interviews for the music side of our radio shows. I did a lot of them, with all the biggest pop stars of the day, and in a one-on-one, there’s no one to hide behind. It’s all on you, for sixty to ninety minutes. So that forces you to get better. Plus, I wanted to get better, so I worked very hard at it. And then I brought those new skills with me to the junket tables.

Greg:

I never became an aggressive question "asker" but I did start chiming in on a more regular basis towards the late 90s. Basically, it took a while!

Who were you most excited to interview, and that did person live up to your expectations?

Matt:

I can’t boil it down to one, but I can give you three. Steven Spielberg, Neil Simon and Woody Allen. All three of them were huge cinematic influences on me throughout my childhood, and sitting down with them face-to-face, I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest. None of them disappointed.

Greg:

Brian De Palma - he was, at the time (and actually still is) my favorite filmmaker. He came off as standoffish during the “Carlito's Way” interviews, and I did interview him years later for “Femme Fatale” and “The Black Dahlia” (that was a press conference). Though he wasn't the sunniest director I interviewed, that didn't lessen my opinion of his films.

What was your favorite junket?

Matt:

I stopped doing junkets full time in 2001, because I had moved to the TV side of my company. Other employees took over the radio shows and did all of the junkets. But every now and then, a junket invite would draw me back, and I would pull rank and say, “Sorry, this one is mine.” One of the very last ones I did that for was “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings.” Not just because I was a Tolkien fan, even though I was. But because I’ve always been a fan of the fantasy genre. My whole life, I’ve devoured everything from Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Piers Anthony, Robert Aspirin, Jack L. Chalker, the list goes on and on. But other than your occasional “Ladyhawk” or “Willow," Hollywood had never really done the genre justice. This movie looked like it was going to change that. It had great people making it, the studio obviously had spent a lot of money on it, the cast was great, and I was really excited about it. So I snagged the junket, flew to New York, and showed up to the table ninety minutes early, to make sure I got the seat right next to the talent. I then proceeded to monopolize those interviews, asking the majority of the questions. Which was rude, I know, but I didn’t care. I loved the movie, and I wasn’t a junketeer anymore. This was more or less going to be my grand finale. So I wanted to enjoy it as much as I could. And I did.

Greg:

The junket for “Sideways” back in 2004. It was in Santa Barbara, and I was able to bring my parents with me. Family comes first, and it was great to see my folks happy! The movie, of course, rocked as well, and I have fond memories of that time.

Who was your most memorable interview and why?

Matt:

There are so many to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one. Hopefully we’ll be able to feature a lot of the best ones on the show. For example, Buddy Hackett in episode 005 is pretty classic. But for now, I guess I’ll tell one that involves Greg.

December of 1995, we were in New York for the “Bio-Dome” junket. I woke up early in my hotel room and took the elevator down to the interview floor, where I found Greg already grabbing breakfast in the hospitality suite. I grabbed mine, and we brought our food to the roundtable interview room to reserve our seats. This was about an hour before the junket was scheduled to start, and no one else ever showed up this early, so it was just the two of us. As we sat there eating breakfast, a door opened across the hall, and a small group emerged, led by Pauly Shore, the star of the movie. He was dressed in a three piece suit, his hair was perfect, he looked like a million bucks, and he was talking to the others with a high energy, animated enthusiasm. They must have just done a television interview or something. They disappeared down the hallway, and Greg and I went back to our conversation. Forty five minutes later, after the other junketeers had shown up and we were ready to start, the publicists brought the first interview into the room, and it was Pauly Shore. But he had changed. He was now dressed in a bathrobe, his hair was a mess, and he was moving very slowly and painfully, like he was hungover. He apologized and told us he’d had a crazy night, and they had just woken him up, and he would do his best for us, but it wasn’t going to be easy. I remember the look that Greg and I exchanged at that moment, with raised eyebrows, trying not to burst out laughing. Because we knew he was lying. And I remember realizing at that moment that the whole “weasel” persona that he wore all the time was just an act. He was playing a character. Not just in front of the cameras and the microphones, but for us as well.

Greg:

I don't remember the specifics but I did get a kick out of interviewing Woody Allen in New York. I have very few “star struck” moments, and seeing Allen for the first time was a total thrill. He's a very insightful interview, as well!

What was your most memorable junket celebrity moment outside of the roundtables?

Matt:

After the “Scary Movie 2” interviews, I found myself on a long elevator ride with Anna Faris, accompanied by a large movie theater cardboard standup for the film, which was just a larger version of the movie poster. We spent the whole ride talking and laughing about how that picture of her had giant breasts that she did not possess in person. Someone had gone a little crazy with Photoshop. We both found it completely surreal that this was something that Hollywood felt was necessary to sell the movie.

Greg:

Although I’ve done several hundred junkets, I simply don’t have a celebrity moment. I made it a point not to converse with celebrities, before or after interviews. I wasn’t trying to be professional -- I was simply anti-social. It’s a habit I still carry on to this day!

What was your most memorable out of town junket trip, and why?

Matt:

Orlando, FL, for “Casper.” May, 1995. The night before the interviews, they closed down the Universal Studios Florida park to the public, but they kept it open for us. They had a huge dinner at one of the restaurants, where my then-wife Erika and I sat next to Eric Idle and his wife, and we chatted, which was awesome. (Casual conversations are completely different from interview conversations.) Then they let us loose. All of the park's rides remained open for like four hours, and there was only about a hundred of us. But then almost the entire group of journalists decided not to go on any rides. They stayed at the karaoke bar and drank instead. So it was just me, Erika, Cathy Cogan and Dave Weber, going through the park together. And we were literally the only ones around. We went on rides, and we were the only ones on them. For example, we would go on “Jaws,” and each one of us took a row for ourselves. If something happened on the left, we slid over to the left to see it. Then something happened on the right, so we slid over to the right. Walking from ride to ride, the streets were completely empty, but all the lights were on, and all the rides were going. It was insane, like a weird dream.

Then something funny happened the next morning. Our friend Randy, one of the junketeers, was badly hung over. He had spent the night drinking at the bar with Bill Pullman, and they had sung a lot of Karaoke duets together, which I was sorry to have missed. He was miserable, in so much pain. He said, “If you think this is bad, I can’t wait to see what Bill Pullman looks like. That guy drank twice as much as I did. He must be a mess!” Almost on cue, Bill Pullman walks into the room, bright and chipper, sits down with a huge smile, and says, “Hi everyone! What would you like to know?” Randy’s jaw hit the floor. I guess some guys are just better at holding their liquor.

Greg:

I went out of town to Toronto twice - I don't remember the specific movies but I just loved checking out the area. The first time out it was during the mid 1990s and Miramax was at its peak. The atmosphere, which featured tons of indie screenings, was simply a movie lover's paradise.

What was your favorite out of town junket hotel, and why?

Matt:

When we traveled to New York, which was pretty much monthly, we almost always stayed in one of three hotels. The Regency, Rihga Royal, and Essex House. Personally, I loved Rihga Royal the best, because all of the rooms were suites. The Living Room and the bedroom were separate, and you could close the door between them, so it was huge and spacious and felt like little apartments. But I also enjoyed knowing that David Bowie lived in the penthouse suite at Essex House, and we would occasionally see him in the lobby or on the elevator. So that was cool too.

Greg:

The Regency Hotel in New York, simply because that was the hotel I was most familiar with during all of those New York out of town junkets in the 1990s.

What did you love most about junkets?

Matt:

My whole life, I’ve loved movies. I’ve always seen as many as I could. From the time I could read, I've subscribed to movie magazines, like Premiere and Starlog and later Entertainment Weekly. My first jobs were in a movie theater, and then working as an extra on films and tv shows. So now getting to sit down with these talented, creative artists who made movies, and talk with them about their process, was heaven. The experience never lost its magic for me. And it’s funny, because so many of our colleagues were jaded and cranky, and I think I drove them a little crazy. I never stopped being the bright eyed idealist, going, “Guys, can’t you appreciate how awesome this is? How many millions of people would kill to be where are, doing what we do? And you’re going to let your whole day be ruined by whether or not the radio journalists get the same free t-shirt that the TV journalists do? Come on! We are so lucky!” I remember getting a lot of eye rolls. But that’s how I felt then, and it’s how I still feel now.

Greg:

The camaraderie between the radio junketeers and the friendships. Short, sweet, but true.

What did you dislike most about junkets?

Matt:

Most of the interviewees were very friendly, but others resented being contractually required to go through this process, so they came in with a bad attitude, and it was like pulling teeth. Other times, the studios gave us child actors to talk to, who spoke in one word answers. Those were hard.

Greg:

Doing junkets on a regular basis left only several weekends free on a given year. If you're a regular on the junket circuit, you simply don't have time to breathe. Many of us radio folk (along with the print journalists) devoted most of our lives to the junket scene.

What do you guys remember most about each other from those days?

Matt:

Greg and I connected right away. We are roughly the same age, we share a love and a knowledge of movies, and we have a similar sense of humor. We laugh together often. Our biggest difference has always been our life paths. I got married at 24, and started having kids at 29. Greg has always been a bachelor, and I remember him bringing a steady stream of dates to the screenings, each one prettier than the last. I had the family, and he had the freedom. So I think we both envied each other a little bit back then. The grass is always greener on the other side...

Greg:

Matt was the funniest and most generous guy at the roundtables. He was also considerate of others. We had a lot of laughs during those days - he is also a total perfectionist, and if it wasn't for him, this podcast wouldn't be so well researched and organized.

Matt:

I'm a video editor for a living now. We are all perfectionists.