Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, September 18, 2021

staging
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Joaquin Phoenix/Casey Affleck “documentary” I’m Still Here has been confirmed as a fabricated performance, by Affleck himself:

…Most mockumentaries, in the way of “This Is Spinal Tap,” wear their foolishness on their sleeves, leaving no doubt about their character as fiction. But Mr. Affleck, who is married to Mr. Phoenix’s sister and has been his friend for almost 20 years, said he wanted audiences to experience the film’s narrative, about the disintegration of celebrity, without the clutter of preconceived notions.

More like the disintegration of a hoax, since nobody really bought the crazy-man act to begin with. The film is also tanking on the arthouse circuit, so in every sense, no one’s buying this rather lame attempt to engineer pop-cultural buzz.

But a further tidbit: It turns out that David Letterman was in on the whole thing. In fact, “Late Show” monologue writer Bill Scheft blew the lid on the secret in August 2009:

Nuvo: Tell me what it was like backstage after the Joaquin Phoenix appearance.

Scheft: First of all, that was all an act.

Nuvo: Even Dave’s part of it?

Scheft: Yeah. Think Andy Kaufman without shaving. That’s what he was doing. And Dave knew about it and Dave loved it because he could play along. He could do whatever he wanted with it. And he did, and it was great television. But I will take credit for the line, “I think I owe Farrah Fawcett an apology.” That line was mine. I gave that to him during the break.

Dave loves that. He had a ball. He likes anything that’s good television, and he knew that’s good television.

I’ve told people that (everyone was in on the joke), and not only don’t people believe me, they tell me that I’m wrong and that (Phoenix) is a schizophrenic and he needs help and he’s going to end up like his brother. I said no. I saw the segment notes. It’s an act. I saw Ben Affleck’s brother taping the whole thing from offstage.

And oh, by the way — I called this fakery even before that:

…I’ve got no solid proof, but just from watching the whole interview, I could tell there was no real tension between the two, and Letterman’s reactions to similar guest antics in the past always betrayed his extreme unease at any such “unplanned” situations. This time out, I got the strong feeling he was simply going through the motions, setting up Phoenix with rather softball jabs; if he were really ill at ease with what was happening, he would have cut loose on him far more severely. My guess is that Letterman and Phoenix coordinated the whole thing beforehand and simply played it out before the cameras.

So, what have we learned from this failed subterfuge? Nothing significant. Which, in the end, is probably the whole point.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/18/2010 07:50pm
Category: Celebrity, Comedy, Movies, TV
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