Web Series: Junketeers Shows the Crazy World of Press Junkets
The junket circuit is a soul sucking abyss of an experience. Or at least that is what the new web series, Junketeers, is all about. Created by Ben Lyons and Josh Horowitz, who combine have twenty years’ experience working in the entertainment industry, this Comedy Central original web series is a work place comedy taking place in the world of journalists in the junket circuit. Junkets are those series of interviews that an actor or celebrity does with a series of entertainment journalists ranging from the prestigious to the blogs. When you see those four minute clips on Entertainment Tonight with the host asking the star of the latest Hollywood blockbuster talking about who they are dating, that is from those junkets.
Junketeers comes in at 8-episodes, running roughly five minutes each following a self-aware insider Hollywood format most similar to Ricky Gervais’ Extras. Like Extras each episode features a celebrity playing a version of themselves, which is when the series is funniest. There is Josh Duhamel who relieves himself from the stress of the junket by literally reliving himself through masturbation in stairwells. Then there is Chloe Grace Moretz starring in Steinem, a biopic about Gloria Steinem, who still has to suffer through the caddy misogyny of questions that are reserved to young Hollywood starlets like, “Who are you dating?”
At the center of the series is a group of broken people who never thought that the majority of their careers would be stuck waiting at fancy hotels asking innocuous questions to celebrities that they feel they are better than. Barak Hardley plays our surrogate to the series as the rookie reporter for the fake Downloader.com who still sees himself as a respectable journalist in the field. He soon finds himself with a group of cynical reporters including Brian (Phil Augusta Jackson), a Ain’t It Cool News type who is more interested in breaking nerd culture stories than the drama film he has to watch, Britney (Amanda Lund), a self-absorbed wannabe actress, Christopher (Austin Lyon), a self-absorbed wannabe actor, and Kevin (Brian Unger), another self-absorbed wannabe actor except he has been doing this for twenty years too long and developed an alcohol problem.
The series really highlights how crazy this whole concept of press junkets are. Celebrities hate them. Press people hate them. Even agents hate them. But, this is a necessary tool in the click baiting of shows. Ben Lyons, who co-created the series, is best known for being on E! series Extra which leads in with some juicy comment about some form of celebrity issue. The same way that website articles with the headlines, “Look What Crazy Method Acting Technique Jared Leto Did,” is how shows and productions companies use these interview clips.
There is an agenda from both sides of the interviews. For the actor, it is all about shilling out a product because it is contractually obligated. For the interviewer it is a time to promote oneself while also somehow getting a pull quote that allows a show or a website to hit a quota. Junketeers is frequently funny, skewering a relationship that we so seldom think about. Being a journalist covering these things seems like the coziest job in the world, yet it is a soul sucking succubus. What does it say about me that I am on the outskirts of this industry? Should I get out of movie writing now with my soul intact?