The #AskHerMore campaign is a wonderful initiative to learn more about female celebrities, those genetically blessed organisms brimming with talent, quirky idiosyncrasies and bucketloads of money.
However, while the likes of Amy Poehler and Reese Witherspoon advocate more discussion points in interviews, the vast number of female celebrities who have visited Australia recently have wanted to be asked less.
It’s like they worry they’ll become Edward Snowdon once they cross the equator.
Humanitarian and actor Charlize Theron, who was reportedly paid a small fortune to attend the Melbourne Grand Prix as the new ambassador for LK Property Group’s $500 million Capitol Grand development in South Yarra, pulled the pin on all media interviews at the last minute after she confused Capital Grand for “Capitol Hill”.
Rihanna once called security to have Sunrise’s Natalie Barr removed when she asked a question the singer and prolific social media user didn’t want to answer.
Spiderman star Andrew Garfield cut an interview with Samantha Armytage short after she quizzed him about his girlfriend and co-star Emma Stone. Instead of storming out, he decided to eat fruit while the cameras rolled.
Last year, when undoubtedly the world’s most famous woman, Kim Kardashian, was visiting Australia, press were required to submit questions for approval, which is not unusual, and selfies with the star were taken in an area boasting the perfect light … for her.
Then Heidi Klum came to town to promote her new lingerie line and reporters were given a strict edict to stay on brand – no questions about her personal life or her myriad of other accomplishments.
“Given you moved to New York from Germany and built a career from the ground up, what are your thoughts on the new generation of Instagirls?” I asked Klum.
I went on to offer examples to illustrate my question as Klum grew increasingly confused, “Like Cara Delevingne, Kendall Jenner … ”
“I don’t really think Heidi is talking about people, she’s just talking about her experiences designing lingerie,” her US minder interjected before we went on to chew the fat for another few minutes about knickers.
But nothing compares to Nicole Richie, the adopted daughter of singer Lionel Richie and incredibly funny reality TV star, writer and talented fashion designer. The 33-year-old, whose style is the envy of fashion icon Kate Moss, was in town to judge the Fashions on the Field at Sydney’s Golden Slipper over the weekend.
Questions were vetoed both ahead of time and just prior to the interview – drugs, rehab, her new sister-in-law Cameron Diaz and the reason why she’s famous, the reality series The Simple Life, which she starred in over a decade ago with her then best friend, hotel heiress Paris Hilton, were all strictly off limits.
As a fan of the cheeky and outspoken personality I was bemused; her web and TV series #CandidlyNicole is laugh-out-loud funny for her witty and honest observations about life, fame and family.
Richie is also an active participant in the Not There movement, a joint initiative by the Clinton and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations to highlight women’s inequality, questions about her involvement with that campaign and #AskHerMore were also forbidden. Meta huh?
“Adoption?” I asked.
“No,” one of her 10 minders replied.
“The penis jacket?”
Basically all that was left to talk about was horses.
So onwards we went, for four minutes and 45 seconds.
“Do you have a favourite for the Golden Slipper?” I asked.
“Do I have a favourite … ” she said, buying time better than Tony Abbott.
“Not yet I don’t,” she said after getting some kind of message from someone over my left shoulder.
But she did admit, without a hint of irony, that she was once offered her own talk show.
“Telepictures [the Emmy award winning production company of #CandidlyNicole] and I had come together and they talked to me about doing a daytime talk show, and I didn’t feel at the time, that I was ready for that but I like the idea of exploring and l like the idea of learning and talking to people about topics,” she said.
It would be easy to blame the publicists, the workhorses of projects like this who are just trying to do their job and keep their client and the tetchy media happy. But responsibility for this circus, which was like an episode of The West Wing, just with better shoes, lies with Richie and her famous counterparts.
Granted the House of Harlow 1960 founder has been burnt badly by the media before; her fallings out with Hilton, her former stylist Rachel Zoe and others have all been well documented, thanks to unnamed sources and “close friends” but banning reporters from asking about certain topics doesn’t give the impression you are private (now, anyway), it just makes you resemble Putin for his cherry-picking ways with the press.
This #AskHerMore crusade is not noble, it’s just paying lip service to the two-speed economy of Planet Celebrity. Loosen the gag and then let’s really talk.
Mar 23, 2015 – SMH – Written by Jenna Clarke