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John Carter Comment: What just happened?


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Early on Saturday morning, TNS sent me to a posh London hotel to attend the UK press junket for Disney’s new multi-million dollar, live-action blockbuster, John Carter.

The event passed in a blur of celebrities, smiles, and complimentary coffees. 

Then after spending three hours interviewing the stars of John Carter, two (understandably) stressed out women from Disney PR came in, picked me up, and ushered me into another hotel room on the corridor. What happened next; I still do not quite understand.

Room 225 had been stripped of all furniture; except for a large chest of drawers, upon which there sat a flashy flat screen TV that was showing a series of low-tech re-enactments of the final moments of the Costa Concordia’s ill fated journey. After the glitz and glamour of the previous room - decked out with sweet treats, free stationary and covered in promotional posters – this sparse set-up was confusing, and if I am honest, a little disappointing. It was clear that I was not, as I had briefly hoped, being plucked from obscurity and taken into an emergency casting session with Disney bigwigs; my dreams of superstardom would have to remain on the backburner for now.

 However, things quickly went from ‘zero’ to ‘bizarre’ once I turned the corner and saw what the second part of the usually luxurious bedroom had to offer.

There was a green screen set up, two sets of chains lying on the floor, and a small, bespectacled Indian man standing behind a camera. My face might as well have been one giant question mark.

Without offering an explanation, Mr. Indian Camera Man pushed me in front of the screen and proceeded to put the chains on me. 'Not exactly how I imagined my S&M porn debut,' I thought. But being the wonderfully enthusiastic (and slightly deranged) person that I am, I just flashed him my manic grin, snorted, and jiggled the chains in a way that said, 'You absolute joker, what the hell is this all about?'

My unspoken question remained unanswered however, and Mr. ICM resumed his position behind the camera and began to shout directions at me, "Look scared!" "Scream!" "Look like you are running away!"

Rather than do the rational thing and ask what in Mickey Mouse’s name was going on, I chose instead to oblige Mr. ICM’s request, and responded to his increasingly shrill commands with my characteristic gusto, desperately recalling the photo shoot advice given to those skinny minnies on America's Next Top Model.

'Boobs out, tummy in, smile with the eyes...' Tyra Bank's affected American twang rang through my head like The Greatest Hits of Dumb Dumbs playing on repeat, all the while Mr. ICM continued to spur me on in his exceptionally comical, accented English. “More scared!” “Fear,” “Noise,” the words rang out as I hit pose after pose, my overly caffeinated brain pushing my behaviour to the brink of the socially acceptable. Maybe that pan of superstardom could come off the backburner earlier than I had thought...

Then, without warning, Mrs. Disney PR #1 came back into the room; and the magic stopped. The lights turned on (when were they switched off?), Mr. ICM stopped clicking, and I was halted mid-shriek.

I suddenly became very aware of the fact that here I was in a bedroom in a swanky London hotel, hair undone, cheeks flushed, chains on my wrists, but rather than playing a starring role in some exciting sexcapade that I could rush home and tell my flatmates about, I was in fact standing alone and fully clothed on a glorified piece of craft paper, with a small Indian man and now two members of a PR company eying me rather cautiously. Oh, and I was meant to be at work. Perfect.

Ever the consummate professional, I responded to their looks of alarm with one that said ‘I am intelligent, young, and totally in control,’ or at the very least one that said, ‘I am not certifiably insane.’ With that, I quickly straightened myself out, gathered up my bag, jacket, and whatever shreds of dignity I could find lying scattered on the green screen floor, mumbled an apologetic goodbye to my new friend who was once again lurking behind the camera, and left Room 225 behind.

To be honest, I hadn’t given what happened on Saturday very much thought until this morning when an email popped up in my inbox from 'Those Nice People'.  I opened it, and was gifted with this attachment: a little keep-sake from my first independent outing as a serious entertainment journalist.

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