I've never seen anything like it! Not even when Farrah was on.
That's the reaction to Joaquin Phoenix's disastrous guest appearance on The David Letterman Show last night. I saw clips of it this morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, which conveniently fires up on the TV in my bathroom at 3:30 every morning so I'm sure to be awake in time to get to work. Well, this morning, it almost made me late to work, because I had to watch the whole thing ... and I've been all over the Internet this morning trying to figure out if it was real, or real good acting.
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Entertainment Weekly apparently had the same idea as I did with its story, with the cutline, "Real or hoax, that was good TV." The premise, here, is that Phoenix's bizarre behavior is a sort of publicity stunt to kick of his dubious hip hop career. Huh?
That's right, for those of us who haven't been following Phoenix's every career move, he insists, of late, that he's done making movies and is moving on to music. And not the kind of music that he appeared to take to in Walk the Line; we're talking urban, gritty, rappity hippety hoppity schlock. And he swears it's not a joke.
But just look at him!
To me, I'm thinkin ZZ Top, not 'Lil Wayne ... or even successful crossover artists like Will Smith (who would have thought the Fresh Prince of Bel Air would be such a box office phenom?) or Jamie Foxx! This career change is coming from way out of left field.
And, so was last night's appearance on Late Night. The story on MTV's website sums it up well:
"You know a talk-show appearance hasn't gone well when the host ends the segment saying, 'I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight.'"
The two-word answers, the confusion, the nervous laughter by the crowd, and the progressively more frustrated and apparently angry Phoenix as the interview went on... it was weird, for sure, but impossible to tear yourself away from.
There's a link on that site that also lends credence to the idea that it's all an elaborate hoax; part of a documentary his brother-in-law is working on. The story says, "...it appears that the whole Joaquin-Phoenix-is-a-rapper" thing might not be legit either. According to EW.com's Hollywood Insider blog, a source told the site that Phoenix's rap career is nothing more than an elaborate hoax perpetrated by brother-in-law Casey Affleck (who is reportedly filming the entire thing for a documentary) to poke fun at pompous actors and the media.
I hadn't seen Phoenix's rap debut that everyone's been talking about now either, so I looked it up on YouTube. Yeah, it's pretty bad.
So as I was writing this, I got up to do a quick two-minute Today show cut-in, and as I was sitting there waiting during a commercial break our director Dave Weisberg says in my ear, "Hey Jennifer, did you see that Joaquin Phoenix interview last night?" I laughed and told him I'm actually writing about it, and we decided if it IS a publicity stunt, it's working because we're all talking about it this morning. Camera operator Leslie Luth piped in with, "As long as they spell his name right, it's good publicity."
Oh, and now I am hearing our news managers talking about it behind me in our morning editorial meeting. All of a sudden, Joaquin Phoenix is on the radar again! And if it's a joke, I guess the joke is on us.