Drew Barrymore ‘far from fake’ interview is a product of the film PR circuit

Many journalists present press conference comments as exclusive, and movie stars let them

Egyptair’s Drew Barrymore interview drew fire for its unusual grammar and questionable content. Photograph: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Egyptair’s Drew Barrymore interview drew fire for its unusual grammar and questionable content. Photograph: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

 

Earlier this week, photographs of an interview that Drew Barrymore allegedly gave to EgyptAir’s in-flight magazine began trending on Twitter. The article, by-lined to Aida Tekla, drew fire for its unusual grammar, questionable content, and the breathtakingly judgmental introductory paragraphs.

“It is known that Barrymore has had almost 17 relationships, engagements and marriages; psychologists believe that her behaviour is only natural since she lacked the male role model in her life after her parents’ divorce when she was only 9 years old,” offered the author of the piece.

“Ever since that time she has been subconsciously seeking attention and care from a male figure, but unfortunately things do not always go as planned and she has not yet succeeded in any relationship for various reasons.”

The quotations attributed to Barrymore don’t get any prettier. Asked about women, the 43-year-old actor, allegedly and bizarrely replied: “I cannot deny that women made a great achievement over [the] past century, there is significant progress recorded by people who study women status throughout history.”

On the secret to losing post-baby weight: “I find this a great opportunity to encourage every woman who is overweight to work on regaining her beauty and body, especially that it is not as hard as one may think; it is all about determination and following the appropriate diet under the supervision of a physician.”

Can this be real? Yes and no. A spokesperson for Barrymore told HuffPost the actress’s team is “working with the airline PR team”, and insists that she “did not participate”. Tellingly, however, the BBC has quoted Barrymore’s representatives as saying she did not “technically ... sit down with EgyptAir for an interview” but that the quotes were drawn from a press conference.

EgyptAir has stood by the author, former Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) president Aida Takla O’Reilly, who has defended the interview on Twitter: “The interview with Drew Barrimoor \[sic\] which took place in New York is genuine &far from fake,” she tweeted.

“As far as Drew we interviewed her several times I saw her grow up before my eyes she is charming and talented.”

Members of the HFPA do enjoy extraordinary access to talent, often through press conferences or the Golden Globes. Many media outlets are only happy to present quotations from HFPA press conferences (and other press conferences) as exclusive content and, what’s more, many Hollywood stars and studios are only happy to let them.

The measured language used in a statement by the HFPA, as obtained by Vanity Fair, reads like an appeal for calm, for business as usual: “We are aware that an article under the byline of our member Dr Aida Takla-O’Reilly regarding Drew Barrymore, published in EgyptAir’s Horus magazine, has come into question,” the statement reads.

“Based on our preliminary investigation, we understand that parts of the article in question were not written by Dr Takla-O’Reilly and that other portions of the article may have come from other sources. We regret any distress caused to Ms Barrymore by this article.”

The most likely explanation for this odd composite interview is that something – well, many things – have got lost in translation. (It’s worth noting that even O’Reilly’s name is spelled incorrectly – as Aida Tekla – in her byline.)

A source described by People magazine as being “close to the situation” has claimed: “That this truly is an innocent translation job that somehow made it through the channels.”

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