Monday, August 10, 2009

Not so Funny People

In case we needed any proof that it is not only authoritarian governments that practice aggressive censorship of journalists, spare a thought for Brazilian journalist Fernanda Ezabella who has been blacklisted by the local representative of Universal Studios for asking director Judd Apatow an awkward question during a press conference about Universal's new film Funny People.

The story is as follows: Ezabella is attending the press conference on behalf of the magazine Folha de S. Paulo when, in the press pack handed out to journalists, she discovers a copy of a receipt for $1,375 for a limousine hired to bring the director the 9 miles from his home to the press conference.

Obviously, the receipt was not meant to be included, but in fact copies of it had made their way into each press pack due to an administrative error.

The observant Fernanda therefore asked a question of Judd Apatow along the lines of whether it could be justified in the present financial crisis, when staff are being laid off by studios, to pay nearly $1,400 for a limo to travel such a short distance.

Barely had the words left her mouth when Ezabella found the mocrophone hastily removed from her and attempts to ask a follow up question blocked by press officers. Her press pack was removed and, later, she found she had been blacklisted from future Universal press conferences.

I guess many of us have known for some time that there is an insanity at the heart of much of the corporate world and, perhaps it would be helpful for Universal if people with a concern for free speech and the integrity of the press took a break from paying any money to watch any Universal movies for a while until they have cleared up this nasty over-reaction. What do you think?

Current releases from Universal include A Perfect Getaway, Bruno and Public Enemies. Future releases include Funny People, Love Happens and The Wolfman. Were you so inclined, you could always contact Universal and let them know why you're watching something else instead.

Fernanda Ezabella's account of the incident (in Portugeuse) is here and my source for the story is here.

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