Whelp, I had never seen a moderator during a post-movie Q&A be booed before, so that’s a new one.
On Thursday night the Tribeca Film Festival hosted a retro screening at the Beacon Theater of Brian De Palma’s Scarface, the once-polarizing, now-classic 1983 film. Before we get to the fireworks, I will say it was really amazing to see this movie on the giant Beacon screen. Honestly, this is the first time I’ve even enjoyed Scarface. There have always been parts of the film that I’ve enjoyed and parts I haven’t, but watching it with a massive crowd, I was hooked from start to finish of the almost three-hour movie. (Though, at one point we had to move to different seats because a small but vocal part of the audience thought this was a group participation movie.)
Before the movie started I was speaking to a friend about how I was most looking forward to hearing from Michelle Pfeiffer during the post-film Q&A. I’ve heard De Palma talk about Scraface before (there’s a whole wonderful documentary in which he just goes through all of his movies) and Al Pacino isn’t known for being shy, but I’ve never really heard from Pfeiffer about it before. So this was going to be a treat. (And before we get into this, I know people at the Tribeca Film Festival work extremely hard to put together something like this, so it’s really a shame a bad moderator could derail something that should have been a fun event.)
The panel was made up of De Palma, Pacino, Pfeiffer and Steven Bauer. The panel was supposed to be hosted by Brian Koppelman, but something changed and he wasn’t there. (I’ve decided to not list the actual moderator’s name because he’s getting enough heat already for this and there’s no way you know who he is anyway, so I’ll spare him another Google alert.) Steven Bauer came on stage first and did the tongue wag from the movie for the crowd – and then pretty much never stopped talking from there. I have a hard time criticizing Bauer for this because he seemed super excited to be there, but his excitement got the best of him because after awhile his constant interruptions became distracting. But that was the least of the panel’s problems.
After listening to Pacino and (mostly) Bauer give a long story about how they lived together in Malibu the summer before shooting Scarface, the moderator finally asked Michelle Pfeiffer a question. (There was one funny moment during this “live together” story. Bauer was talking about all the famous people who would stop by to see Al Pacino and mentioned a few names before mentioning Johnny Carson. Pacino interrupted, “I want to clarify, Johnny Carson would walk by the house. He wasn’t coming over to visit.”)
So after all this, the first question to Pfeiffer was what she tells her children about the prolific use of the word “fuck” in this movie. The second was, “As the father of a daughter and concerned with body image, the preparation for this film, what did you weigh?”
The moderator literally asked Michelle Pfeiffer what she weighed. The crowd started booing and the moderator snapped back, “This is not the question you think it is.” But it pretty much was. He was trying to get at the fact she plays a drug addict in the film, but for crying out loud how is this a question?
The infamous moment at tonight’s #Scarface reunion panel where #MichellePfeiffer was asked by the moderator (who apparently is “the father of a daughter”) how much she weighed during filming, which was followed by a mixture of confusion and disdain from the audience. #Tribeca2018 pic.twitter.com/xQUQ6FJqtC
— Mark Espinosa (@SportsGuy515) April 20, 2018
As someone who has hosted a few of these things, I have mixed feelings on these types of Q&As. Look, they can be fun! But usually they run into trouble when it’s opened up to the general audience for questions because there’s always one chucklehead who wants to pitch a script or asks how to “get into the business” who ruins it for everyone. But when I host, I still open it up for questions and cross my fingers because that’s the point of these things in the first place.
But this wasn’t even that! This wasn’t an audience member asking an awkward question. It was a professional whom I assume got paid for his time to be there. And everyone in this business has at one point asked a dumb question, but this is just common sense. It’s just one of those situations that makes everyone feel bad. Pfeiffer looked mortified at first, but then handled it like a pro. But why should she have to do that? There’s so much I wanted to hear from her and now I feel a bit cheated out of that and I’m sure the rest of the audience did as well. And now this great retro screening of Scarface – that a lot of people worked really hard on to put together – will always be remembered for this dumb question.
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