Entertainment marketing can be touchy – especially getting talent to believe in the entire selling system, even when it comes to getting awards.
Joaquin Phoenix says the Oscars are somewhat beneath him. "I think it's bullshit," he told Interview magazine recently when asked about campaigning for "The Master." "I don't want to be a part of it. I don't believe in it. It's a carrot, but it's the worst-tasting carrot I've ever tasted in my whole life. I don't want this carrot. It's totally subjective. Pitting people against each other... It's the stupidest thing in the whole world."
This kind of stuff has happened before. But getting on the Oscar marketing campaign train is part of the continued selling of a movie. And today’s entertainment marketing exists in a much more competitive and fractionalized environment.
In a somewhat milder form -- akin to a marketing shrug-of-shoulders -- scores of actors, producers and other nominees haven ‘t shown up for the award ceremonies. But that is not as bad as dissing the whole process openly for months before the event, as Phoenix has done.
People are worried that Phoenix's great performance will now go unnoticed. He apparently needs some 200 voters, about one-sixth of his group of Academy members, to get a nomination. But will they now feel affronted that he wants to change celebrity-marketing-business rules?
Pitting people against each other? Yes, he has a point. It is kind of stupid. The Oscars are a business PR event -- that's all. Perhaps we shouldn't take it so seriously. The worst of it comes when winners of these big entertainment awards do in fact thank their fellow nominees. Do they really mean it? Or maybe not so much?
The real issue for Phoenix will come when he looks for other films to do, when movie studios and producers might think twice about taking him on, wondering whether they'll get his full marketing commitment.
TV performers have ripped into the marketing process from time to time, causing TV executives some headaches. Charlie Sheen is the biggest example, holding viewers and executives somewhat hostage to his behavior in and around CBS' "Two and a Half Men." More recently, Chevy Chase of NBC's "Community" was found ripping into the series’ executive producer.
Perhaps TV and movie producers need special marketing riders in their contracts. with financial penalties attached. Sounds cruel. Most times, big actors in movies or TV shows get a percentage of box office receipts, or for TV, if they get a producing credit, a percentage of the backend syndication dollars.