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Our New York correspondent, Jeff Sipe, gossips about the press junket for the young cast of the teen thriller, Gossip, and finds it an intriguing experience.

"The more arthouse films I watch, it fuckin’ pisses me off," Joshua Jackson began the roundtable interview at the press junket in a New York hotel. "It’s some bullshit – even if it reaches that level – intellectual wank and shittily made movie."


"good-looking under-thirties"

The roundtables took place in one of Central Park South's most elegant hotels in the heart of Manhattan. Rarely has a collection of such good-looking under-thirties been assembled in one place, be it this self-proclaimed culture capital of the world or some backwater locale in any other country. Kate Hudson's golden locks may have outshone the raven-haired curls of Lena Headey, but it was clear, both from Headey's turn in Gossip and her stunning performance as the tortured main character in Norsk Film's Aberdeen, that her   star will eventually shine much brighter as a serious actress than any of her handsome Gossip co-stars.

The assembled press corps was your typical collection of representatives ranging from the UK dailies to German weeklies, each reporter with his or her specific agenda. The result was a cacophony of questions that resulted in a lack of continuity, as questions about Marsden's role in X-Men were followed up by Norman Reedus' new role as a father. Even as Reedus expressed heart-felt fascination with his new-born, questioners put questions to Joshua Jackson about future episodes of Dawson's Creek.

One thing's for sure, though, Joshua won’t have to worry about anybody mistaking Gossip as a film destined for art houses. This film is being cannily marketed as a teen thriller, packed with a cast that should appeal to anyone interested in what could be termed the neo-brat pack. Along with Jackson, the film features Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn, Norman Reedus, best-known for his Prada ads, James Marsden, whose star has skyrocketed with his turn in X-Men, and Lena Headey.

"ever-so-stylish filmmaking"

If you can’t tell by the cast, this film is an attempt at ever-so-stylish filmmaking that succeeds in gloss even if fails in most every other area. The story is actually intriguing, on the surface – with emphasis on surface. It’s about three roommates – Marsden, Reedus and Headey – who start and track a rumour as part of a sociology class project. Not surprisingly, the rumour takes on a life of its own, and the consequences are disastrous.

In the end, more intriguing than the film itself is the marketing campaign. The press book, TV ads (in the US, at least) and theatrical trailer are all packed with images of the films best-known performers, i.e. Joshua Jackson, known for his role in the popular TV series Dawson’s Creek, and Kate Hudson who has made a name for herself in a handful of indie productions in the US. The emphasis on Hudson and Jackson in the ad campaign is clearly the brainchild of PR flacks. The two are barely in the film. The real stars are the relatively unknown but bountifully talented Marsden, Reedus and Headey who appear in something like 80% of the film.

Nevertheless, it’s a comment on entertainment journalism that something like 80% of the questions put forward by the assembled international press in a New York hotel suite are aimed at Hudson and Jackson, a situation not unnoticed by, at least, Marsden and Reedus, who, at one point, exchange knowing looks as Joshua fielded something like his fourth question in a row.

Joshua Jackson, of course, has become somewhat used to the limelight, although he speaks of "the ruckus" he often creates in public places in a self-deferential manner. "It’s usually like ‘hey, man, you’re in that show, yeah, what’s the name of it? Hey, good work!’"

"public persona"

Reedus is a bit more shy about his public persona, and still able to admit to some things that most actors would rather not have the public know. "I went to LA, following a girl. But I didn’t know she was going there to meet her boyfriend…They left for Australia and got married," he says somewhat sheepishly.

Marsden, on the other hand, quickly digs into himself and pulls out that quote that all publicists love to hear. "Let’s start with how fortunate we all are to be here today," he begins.

But, then, referring to his work in X-Men, he says, "I do ten times more acting in Gossip than in X-Men. But I really wanted to do it because it was an opportunity to work with people I used to watch when I was growing up in Oklahoma."

Marsden’s middle-American upbringing is, perhaps, not dissimilar to Headey’s, though we can’t really be certain since Headey seems almost intimidated by sharing her roundtable with Hollywood’s child, Kate Hudson. Headey will say only that her family "is very normal," and refuses to elaborate, even when pressed.

Neither of the women nor any of the guys, for that matter, have gone to college, but that doesn’t restrain any of them from admitting that the college life depicted in Gossip is far from realistic. The three roommates in the film share an enormous loft with low, sexy lighting and a fully stocked bar. At one point, they all sexily sip cognac from big and expensive-looking snifters.

"It’s not the college anybody goes to," says Hudson.

Headey tries to justify it by saying that it’s "a highly tuned reality, focusing on the ‘cool’ people."

"After all," seconds Hudson, "it’s got to be about those people. I mean, who cares about Mary from the Science Club."

Well, maybe someone suffering from cancer, heart disease or some other life-threatening illness may be a little more concerned about the trajectory of Mary’s life than that of an actress.

"all of these young stars know something about"

Of course, gossip is something that all of these young stars know something about, but both Hudson and Headey disdain the whole Hollywood gossip industry.

"It’s not intriguing to me anymore," Headey says, "though I have to admit that I’m still guilty of buying the stuff. I start to read it in bed, sometimes, but after a sentence or two, that’s all I can take."

Hudson, who was once rumored to be engaged to TV star Matt LeBlanc whom she had never met, complains, "People who don’t know the world are taking it as gospel, like ‘this is the way I want to be.’"

Oddly enough, this comment about gossip columns could well apply to the movie, Gossip, as well.

Publication date: 14/9/2000

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