Musings on Celebrity and Managing Expectations

Jason Reitman’s Labor Day continues to film out in Western Massachusetts (It drives me nuts when the ‘bloids say “Boston”.  Trust me, Sherborn or Mansfield are not Boston any more than Mayberry is Mount Pilot). My girl Kate Winslet, fresh from receiving the CBE from Queen Elizabeth as part of Her Majesty’s annual birthday honors, has been getting quite a drubbing in the press lately. (Although I should note, not locally. I want to make clear that the following anecdote was picked up first by the British tabloids.)

It seems the mother of a teenaged fan has taken to the interwebz to complain about the fact that Kate had no time to stop and chat with fans and pose for pictures when on her way to the set one rainy morning.  Her devastated daughter, the woman claims, has had her dreams dashed, soured on Kate as an actress and as a a person and will no longer worship her from afar. This story, as celebrity stories are wont to do, particularly those that paint heretofore unsullied ones in a bad light, was picked up by everyone with access to a keyboard and it has boomeranged around the globe, becoming embellished and Kate’s behavior more heinous with each posting.

Fasten your seat belts and prepare for a rant:  While Ms. Winslet, nor anyone else with celebrity status, does not need me to defend her, this is one of those instances where it’s just too much effort for me to keep quiet. So, since I too have access to a keyboard, I’m chiming in. In a word I must say, “BULLSHIT”.

This, to me, is one of the biggest problems with fans having access to sites where filming is taking place. Sure it’s fun to watch the process, but it is important to remember that these people are working. Did anyone accost you on your way to work this morning? The homeless guy outside the subway? The poll-taker outside the bank? What did you do? Did you stop to chat? Or did you put your head down and keep moving, perhaps continuing to compose that presentation you needed to give when you got to work or your “to-do” list for the day?

After the initial story broke, of course someone else rushed forward to tell her sad tale of how Kate snubbed her on a seven hour Transatlantic flight from London to Boston. Following a quick trip, in which she had to interrupt filming, Kate, her two children in tow, was returning from the CBE ceremony. A woman, another first-class passenger, approached Kate and asked for autographs for her daughters. Kate supposedly told the woman she’d come back “to visit in a bit”. Apparently that never happened although before the end of the flight Kate did send back autographed books for the girls. This was not good enough. The daughters (both teenagers) have since gotten rid of their well-worn copy of Titanic and now refuse to see anything starring Ms. Winslet ever again and the woman has taken her sob story to the online press. Since the woman and her daughters were actually thought about and not ignored, I’m wondering if it’s just possible that Kate was tired and didn’t feel like schmoozing.  Is it possible she fell asleep? Who knows.

Actors don’t owe you or me anything other than a good performance on stage or screen.

That being said, the relationship of a celebrity to the public is both a symbiotic one and a Catch-22. If they are going to seek celebrity (and anyone who attains a certain level of success in the film industry has to have done to some degree) then they can expect the public to have certain expectations as well.  (And the more one gives, the more that is then expected. No exceptions. The public is fickle and will find someone or something else on which to focus their attention. The ‘black hole of need’ is a cold place indeed in the absence of a spotlight.)

Stories such as these are a fact of life that come with the combination of location shooting and internet access, particularly in the US. Perhaps it’s because we have a free “press”, but as someone who spends a great deal of time tracking the progress of films in production, it seems like we don’t hear these types  of stories coming out of other countries.There have been some pics on the web of Kate and family (including boyfriend Ned Rocknroll) strolling down Newbury Street in Boston. While I get a kick out of knowing one of my favorite actresses was only a few blocks from my house and wonder where I was that day, I can live without running in to her.(This does not apply to you, Gerard Butler, should you and Robert Luketic end up shooting Brilliant anywhere near me. You have been warned.)  I hope stories like these don’t sour Kate’s perception of her time in Massachusetts. I’m looking forward to the movie.

‘LABOR DAY’ centers on 13-year-old Henry Wheeler (Gattlin Griffith), who struggles to be the man of his house and care for his reclusive mother Adele (Kate Winslet) while confronting all the pangs of adolescence.  On a back-to-school shopping trip, Henry and his mother encounter Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin),a man both intimidating and clearly in need of help, who convinces them to take him into their home and later is revealed to be an escaped convict.  The events of this long Labor Day weekend will shape them for the rest of their lives.

Labor Day also stars Jacki Weaver, Clark Gregg, Brooke Smith and James Van Der Beek. Here are pics of Kate and costar Josh Brolin on set yesterday.

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