I spend a great deal of time observing the art of publicity. Two grade A, 1st Class, 100% stunts this time, in fine fettle, with knobs, bells and whistles all securely attached. In both cases, be aware, you may well see precisely identical stories unfolding on your local cinema screen within a year or two. Because that’s the nature of the successful stunt nowadays.
Not to promote or advertise something else, or even something akin, but to BE the thing in its own right. So in the best Robert McKee tradition of screenwriting theory the story must intrigue, must contain an inciting incident, and must then have peaks and troughs, 5 acts and a denouement. Instead of Richard E. Grant giving his extraordinary pitch to the producer in Robert Altman’s “The Player”, now the story gets acted out for the press and the public FOR REAL before Hollywood will open the chequebook.
First the completely surreal notion that Courtney Love and Steve ‘Alan Partridge’ Coogan have conceived a love child and are clumsily denying it to the world.
The clever thing is the way the idea works on you:
“Ah ha!” you think, “Actually, that Steve Coogan is a bit of a lad, isn’t he? Coke and hookers and 3-in-a-bed or… something, anyway, or was that Angus Deayton? (Facts? Who needs’em?)
…and then it all becomes amazingly probable that millionaire Steve in his red Ferrari and Kurt Cobain’s biological-clock-ticking widow might easily have, well you, know, ‘got together’. But they didn’t, of course. It’s rubbish. Now we hear its made up. A creative truth.
It turns out they have indeed met, in L.A., too, but that’s about the beginning and end of it. The fact that the false story has generated more column inches than a World War is both a testament to Courtney Love’s serious American celebrity, and to our insatiable appetite for the bizarre and peculiar. Who’s next? Jordan and Mr Bean?
And who could be more peculiar than the young German man who appears to have conned a free bed and a huge amount of pastoral care out of the NHS over the past FOUR MONTHS? An amazing stunt to pull off, considering how difficult most British citizens find it to get a hospital bed for even a night. The idea that he was a pianist too, appears to have been completely fictitious, and when he upped and offed and went home to his family in Germany to enjoy his newfound celebrity, there was a distinct pause before a loyal British administrator stepped forward and suggested he might be sent a bill for all the time and concern lavished on him. But too late! He’s FAMOUS. His story will have gone around the world several times, will have inspired copycat non-musicianship, and has already passed into folklore. The creation of the Pianoman (by journalists, remember) symbolises all that’s best about the British love of an underdog, of our welcome for strangers, our tolerance and open-heartedness. Let’s see if the movie biz feels the same way. This is the reinvention of the film treatment