Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Making a Bad Impression

Whilst I loved the launch ads for free FilmFour (in the right-hand column here) , the accompanying internal promotion that involved moviestar lookalikes roaming around Horseferry Road interrupting us office civilians whilst we were happily going about our duties was decidedly strange.

The first indication that something was up was when Samuel L. Jackson walked past my meeting room. Given that I had to stuff my entire forearm in my mouth when I spotted Russell Brand striding around reception, it took all my energy to remain calm and focussed on the matter in hand. When later I heard one of the marketing assistants sigh "I know this sounds silly, but I've lost Sharon Stone and Robert de Niro" I smelt a rat.

I was reminded, given the Hollywood angle, of the scary crowd that hangs around outside the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. I found street-level LA petrifying and depressing most of the time, but my lowest moment was outside this theatre, being hassled by a man resembling a strung-out roast chicken who insisted he was "Crackadile Dundee" and demanding $50 for a photo of the two of us that his buddy "Jock" Nicholson would take. You can spot a (likely methadoned) Marilyn in the photo link above.

On the entertainment evolutionary scale, I would rate the stars of air guitar slightly above lookalikes, with office impersonators above them (think any man who has done the Joe Pesci "Am I a comedian? Do I amuse you?" lines at any stage other than when Goodfellas was first out) and impressionists only slightly above them in terms of the sophistication of their chosen talent.

Yes, I confess I have occasionally been heard to do a mean Kath and Kim "Look at moi". But these are at appropriate moments before Kath Day-Night has truly hit the mainstream, and has little to do with these seedy parasites of light entertainment. (You really should watch the new series if you haven't before.) Such impressions have a shelf life, as the poor person who did a Frank Spencer impersonation close to me in the office the other day found out to his cost.

Despite my prejudices, I know I should feel grateful to Channel 4 for laying on something special for staff. And I should also feel a little bit sorry for these out-of-work actors having to spend their lives pretending to be someone else.

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