It’s probably not surprising, given the kind of “journalism” I do, that I am not motivated by the thrill of the scoop. Sure, I liked it when my interview with George Saunders came out before he popped up in other magazines south of the border, but that wasn’t what made talking to him satisfying.
I don’t really have an eye for scoops. Take this story about a little snide remark Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made a press conference last week. I was at that press conference. I heard him say that joke about popcorn. It struck me as a tossed off bit of shade, maybe, but certainly not as something remotely newsworthy. And yet, here I am, linking to someone else’s story because I got scooped.
It’s the same about asking celebrities about their romantic life, actually. Publicists are often wary of what questions we’ll ask stars. They want us to stick to the work, not get distracted by tabloid fodder. I wish I could say that their requests spark some internal debate, but they don’t. Mostly because getting stars to say something interesting is hard enough—why make it harder by asking questions they have no intention of answering sincerely. You’re at a press junket with Brad Pitt—you really think, after giving the same non-answer 27 times to journalists from around the planet, he’s going to open up and answer your question about his divorce?
Today we’re posting our cover story about Chris Evans. When I spoke with him, I knew that he had dated comedian Jenny Slate, who co-stars with him in the upcoming Gifted, but I didn’t ask him about it. Maybe I should have. Probably it would’ve led nowhere.
(As evidence, I can only offer a tidbit from the interview that didn’t make it into the final piece. He was talking about directing, and the lessons he learned while filming his first feature Before We Go. He said something about learning things he probably won’t share.
“I hope you realize that I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask you about that,” I said.
“And I respect that,” he said, “But, it’s going to be fruitless.” He wasn’t unkind, but I didn’t want to beg either.)
That being said, when celebrities do open up, it can make for some compelling reading. Which is why you should check out this piece about Jenny Slate from New York magazine. Think of it as a companion, though much broader, piece to our Chris Evans one. Yeah, it unpacks the relationship I didn’t ask Evans about, but in doing so it confirms some of the things I thought about Evans when we spoke. Namely, that he seems like a pretty decent guy.
Which is to say, I didn’t get the scoop on that, either.