Chequebook Journalism in Cannes, the Sequel

Alliance Films clarifies why it gave journalists a price list for interviews

Last week I posted a blog titled ‘Celebrity à la carte’ that broke news about an unprecedented “opportunity” for Canadian journalists visiting Cannes—a price list for interviews with stars such as Brad Pitt and Kristen Stewart. That menu was relayed to us by Alliance Films, the Canadian distributor of the two films in question, On the Road and Killing Them Softly. Since then, there’s been a fair bit of consternation about this bizarre new protocol, including a thoughtful piece by Liam Lacey in today’s Globe and Mail. Now I’ve received an email from Carmite Cohen, vice-president of publicity and promotions for Alliance, claiming that my blog is “inaccurate and distorts the truth.” I see absolutely no evidence of that; in fact, I took pains to quote Cohen as she distanced Alliance from the sale of interviews to journalists in Cannes. But for the sake of full clarity, here is what Cohen wishes to add to the record:

“Junkets for the press are typically organized by a film’s producers.  Distributors (like Alliance) are charged for access to those junkets.  The journalists and their employers never see these charges as the distributors absorb them.  In this case, Alliance decided not to contribute to the costs of the Cannes junket, which we found to be exorbitant.  We decided, instead, to participate in the upcoming North American junket, which will happen later this year.  It will be more cost effective and more relevant to Alliance given that it will happen in proximity to the film’s release date in Canada.  That being said, we didn’t want to prevent Canadian journalists from having access to the Cannes junkets for these films if they wanted to participate and gain earlier access.  It was on this basis that you were provided with the price list. There is absolutely no economic benefit derived by Alliance from this opportunity.”