James Franco is nothing if not…interesting, to say the least. Was he nice enough? Sure…all things considered, I can’t say I had anything but a pleasant experience with the guy. Was this a universal experience at this event? Unfortunately…no.
James Franco Book Signing in Los Angeles
Now, don’t get me wrong: I completely understand that celebrities are human beings. I’ve been around celebrities for all of my adult life — I’ve worked for them, worked with them, and even befriended them(on a REAL friendship level — not a “have my people call your people” level) — so I’ve seen it all, I’ve heard it all, and nothing (I repeat, NOTHING) surprises me about the celebrity world. I’ve also been in, and around, the entertainment business long enough to know that celebrities — like every other human being on the planet — will have their good days, and will have their bad days. Finally, but certainly no less importantly, I am of the belief that, because celebrities are like every other human being on the planet, they deserve to have the same level of privacy and respect afforded to them when, say, they go out to buy cereal, or they eat dinner with their families (and I really, really, REALLY believe that celebrities’ families — especially children — are COMPLETELY off-limits when it comes to press coverage). I have a low level of tolerance for the annoying fans that believe they have the right to accost celebrities in public because they heard them on the radio, or saw them on TV.
With that said…when you’re at an event designed by the fans, for the fans, and with the fans in mind…you have to play the game. You have to show them a certain level of respect. At the end of the day, the fans are the reason why you have a career in the first place…lose them, and lose your career. Considering some of James’ fans were standing outside of Book Soup in Los Angeles, CA, from five in the morning (in the rain, no less), reading a story like the one told to blogger Kris Avalon is nothing if not distressing. (And, I can verify that some of the fans did, indeed, get this treatment…)
It distresses me because, once upon a time (before social media, kids…), I was that fan. I can remember being 13, 14, and 15 years old, waiting outside in the freezing NYC cold, hoping to catch a glimpse of my favorite rock bands of the day (Pearl Jam, Metallica, and so on), and feeling delighted with joy when the bands were nice enough to stop by, shake our hands, take a picture, or even pass a word of encouragement or two.
And, honestly, every single person in the entertainment industry today got into it because they were a fan of something (in my case, of rock’n’roll — and sure enough, that’s where I started my career). Those of us who are grateful to be where we are today (and there are quite a few of us) remember being that fan, and we treat people accordingly…via the Golden Rule, in other words.
In any event, let me be clear once again: my experience with James Franco was quite positive. Unfortunately, not everyone had the same experience, and that’s sad.
For more photos that I took at the event, you can check out PR Photos and Corbis/Splash News.