Bryna Rifkin is a name you may not recognise. But to any journalist who has ever had to stand on a movie red carpet for hours only to be told the star of the film “won’t have time” to talk to you, she has achieved fame via viral video.
In the clip, taken at a screening of Blood Ties at the Toronto Film Festival, Rifkin – the publicist of French actress Marion Cotillard – is condescending, sneery and unnecessarily bitchy to a Francophone reporter who wants to ask Cotillard a question.
I wish I could say that this is a rare occurrence but it is not. Publicists for the film, keen to get exposure for the film, invite the media, while individual actor’s publicists (some nice, others with egos that exceed those of the stars) spend their time restricting who their client has to talk to.
It may sound like a whinge, and it’s a complaint I have alluded to before, but it’s a huge waste of time to hang around for a couple of hours, only to learn that the film’s stars won’t stop and talk.
I know that the promotional roundabout is an exhausting one for actors, but it’s one reason they get to do the jobs that they do. And in an era where it costs ever more to promote films through traditional advertising, surely they should want to promote the movie as much as possible through the media.
You can be sure that if it were the people putting the money into films following the stars on the red carpet, rather than the publicists, they would talk to more people.
I saw the best example of the Rifkin-esque PR most recently at the premiere of About Time in London. There, the publicist for a well-known British actor decided that he only wanted to speak to TV and radio press, a decision she announced to us with a smug grin and the falsest of apologies. As the radio reporters were next to us, one reporter reached over to hear what he was saying, but the publicist batted her dictaphone away.
In the end I shouted out my question to him. He came over, seemingly very happy to answer a few questions, all of which were about acting, film and his retiring director. Even if someone had asked a personal question that he wanted to deflect or politely refuse to answer, he (like most actors) had more than enough wisdom and intelligence to do so. Skills his publicist could do well to learn.