Quid Pro Crowe: The sad tale of Russell and the journalist


People often ask me, "What’s the saddest, most infuriating thing you’ve read in the last 10 minutes?" The answer, readers, is this. It’s a tad longer than your usual web fare, but trust me, it’s worth it. If you enjoy getting worked up.

To sum it up: The author, a "serious" journalist, made a devil’s bargain with Russell Crowe. The actor contacted him, flattered him, and groomed him to be his Jeff Gannon: a publicist disguised as a journalist, writing stories favorable to Crowe. The author seems aware of this stratagem from the very first, has his doubts, and keeps harping on his journalistic scruples — yet goes along with the game, thrilled to be at the center of Crowe’s attention. The story unspools like an unhealthy, even abusive relationship, and while Crowe behaves more or less as we’d expect him to — by turns seductive and threatening, a pure animal of entitlement and ego — the real monster is the author himself, a needy creature so desperate for a star’s friendship that he’ll put aside his ethics, his self-respect, and his better judgment. They’re quite a pair, really, these sad little men, sub and dom. And their tragic little tango, which appears to culminate in what may or may not be a death threat, is all too familiar.

I know. You’re saying: "Ah, well, what does it matter? It’s nothing but trash celebrity journalism, anyway." Ah, but it’s so much more. There are echoes of Judy Miller and Scooter Libby here. There are echoes of every journalist who develops "a special relationship" with a source or subject. And guess what? Every journalist does just that — perhaps not to this extent, but still. Everyone knows you only get the "good stuff" when the boundaries get blurry. But there are ways to guard against this. My colleague Michael Slezak asked the obvious question: Where is this dude’s editor? The answer, sadly, being: At Russell Crowe’s house, in Russell Crowe’s chair, sipping Russell Crowe’s cognac. Journalism 101: When your editor is your subject, DON’T TAKE THE JOB.

Moral of the story: When Russell Crowe offers you candy if you’ll just get in the car, run away and call for help.

addCredit(“Russell Crowe: Michael Caulfield/WireImage.com”)

Comments (14 total) Add your comment
  • Liz

    I read it. Sad tale, but all too true. I thought we knew all that already, though, about movie stars. They’re not called “stars” for nothing. I often think of the film America’s Sweethearts and the whole PR machine. I’m sure volumes could be written on the art of PR and the “if-you-only-knew” truths behind the lies of PR.

  • Jill

    Don’t celebrities do this kind of stuff all the time, either by themselves or through their publicists? Isn’t that the reason it took so long for the public to realize that Tom Cruise was stone-cold crazy?

  • cj

    wait,for real for real or joky-joke if so could be a good movie

  • Snarky

    Sheeze…this “journalist” sounds like he wants to moonlight as a B grade screenwriter. The way he describes his first face-to-face meeting with Crowe, I could almost hear “The Godfather” theme in my head.

  • Anne

    Wow. At first as I was reading this article I was shocked that this journalist had the guts to write this, since Russell would probably sue the crap out of him for libel… But then I got to the end, where Russell was foolish enough to send him a really nasty e-mail – and thus provide indisputable proof of the whole debacle. Geeze. The truth eventually comes out about everybody, after all.

  • Miles

    I’m sure 90% of this article is true. But ten percent sounds like a little hurt kid out for blood, because he did not to the job that he was hired to do, which I believe anyone with half a brain would have understood was the objective from the beginning. The writer here fooled himself, and now his lashing out. This is the kind of people stalkers are made of. Sad, sad, tale of a couple of losers.

  • Misti

    It is just sad that both men are so insecure. I understand the writer though although I don’t respect it, but, if Crowe could just controll himself like the rest of us do, mabey there would be no need to be so paranoid and cruel. We are all people and no matter where or who you are there is a basic human courtesy that we should show each other. Sad that Russel is SO INSECURE. Bravo to the writer for finding his balls and exposing it.

  • newbie

    I couldn’t get two paragraphs into this tale without envisioning Pat O’Brien and Billy Bush jockeying to replace this “ingrate” in Russell’s heart and mind, promising that the suction of their PR smooch would never falter.

  • Anthony CW

    That is just insane. I wasn’t that surprised, but it’s still just…wow.
    It’s a good lesson, though, that I, being a journalist, am glad I learned it early.

  • Buffy

    Just slogged through that. I am no fan of Russell Crowe, but being an editor, I’m no fan of this Jack guy either. This “memoir” doesn’t make me like Crowe any more but it also doesn’t paint the writer in a particular good light either. It just made me sick to my stomach, how so much time and energy could be wasted on something as inconsequential as a movie star. (No comment on the fact that I clicked on the link and read it, I know head hangs in shame.) I much prefer the lighter, mocking blogs. This was just….yuck.

  • Nicky

    Oh Puh-leeze, this has been done before, just perhaps not in this (very transparent) way. Normally “tweaking” a star’s public image is done by their publicist or spokesperson. And those so-called “close sources” who are often quoted in mags?!! Again, someone who works for them. And I’m sure PR reps go on blogs all the time, trying to sway negative public opinion on their clients.

  • blah

    Word to Jill. I want to read a story like this about Tom Cruise!
    I find it extremely creepy, if true, that stars would go to such lengths to improve their image. I mean, all those tests with the music and the story. Jack was right, it’d be easier to just be a normal down to earth guy…

  • Baco Noir

    Based on this there is only one word to describe Crowe: Cuckcoo. Okay, a couple more: Howard Hughes without the urine collection.

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