At the "Jarhead" post-party, I approached the respected author/playwright and all-round éminence grise, who publicists said would be amenable to speak with me for the awards site, The Envelope, about the film he'd just seen.
"It's an honor to meet you, Mr. Vidal. May I ask what you thought of 'Jarhead'?"
"What are you paying?"
"You work for the L.A. Times and they have a lot of money. And I get paid for criticism."
"I'm sorry. I really can't pay you. Does that mean you don't want to talk about the film?"
"Well, do you have a dollar?"
12 hours ago
we have already established what you are, now we are haggling over the price.
As a guy who writes for a living (and makes one), I understand this perfectly.
It works like this:
1) You never work for free. Bad precedent.
2) You always want to be able to refer back to "when I was engaged by the Los Angeles Times to comment..." without lying.
This may sound petty and to an extent it is, but it's part of the etiquette of this game.
Here's the flip side: Sharon Stone told me that Norman Mailer was once introduced to her in a restaurant, they exchanged a pleasantry or two, then he published an extensive interview with her that he concocted from whole cloth. Naturally, he cited that restaurant as the venue of their colloquy.
So sharing an offhand comment about a movie you've just seen is considered "work" for a writer.
And while the following stipulates that Sharon Stone was telling the truth, what does Mailer's misrepresentation have to do with Vidal's venality? It's not clear how paying Vidal a buck would insure against the type of fraud Mailer is alleged to have committed.
I mentioned the Mailer story as an abuse by a writer of the "When I met So-and-so at Morton's..." kernel of truth.
Vidal, however, would be well within his rights to say "When the Los Angeles Times engaged to review Jarhead...", as long as he got that buck.
Any free-lance writer would do that in those circumstances; it is marginally misleading at worst.
There was an HBO show a few weeks back about porn stars, which I was, uh, sucked into watching somehow (the photography was excellent!), but one thing pissed me off. They asked Gore Vidal for his opinion (along with such other "cutting edge" minds as Karen Finley).
In his aristocratic drawl Vidal said that Europeans are "of course" quite amused at Americans' obsession with big breasts, which they see as yet another indication of our essential childishness.
Well, Gore Vidal is gay and hates America, so his opinion here seems inappropriate unless you know what you're looking for before you ask. Did Gore make a few bucks? I don't know. Maybe he took it out in trade.
(By which I mean: Gee, all the male porn actors had extremely big dicks. In the realm of fantasy, what a surprise.
Since Gore is 85 or 90 years old, I sincerely doubt he can attain access to the angry popsicle of, say, Lex Steele, without quite a few lira changing hands.)
Norman Mailer might have had quite a different take on Jenna Jameson's surgically-augmented charms.
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