Friday, August 1, 2008
Universal's The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor opens today. Universal presented a panel on the film at Comic-Con but was tight-lipped about who would attend. It turned out that just about everyone from the film was there, most notably making their first Comic-Con appearances were Asian superstars Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li. When asked why he took the role of the evil emperor, Li candidly confessed it was for the money. I'm not sure Universal wanted such honesty. KPBS didn't have any cameras at the panel (because we didn't know who was going to be there and if it would be worth it) but Universal provided backstage footage. And backstage can be quite a scene as a press line -- that's elbow to elbow camera crews waiting as celebs are ushered through spending some 3.5 minutes with each journalist, and practically stepping on each other as they pass through. It's a media circus and the noise level can get quite high as a dozen journalists all ask the same questions, and actors and directors try to keep their energy levels up for good 30 second bites. I pulled a sound bite from the ever elegant Michelle Yeoh, who has the poise and grace to look and sound good even in these crazy circumstances, and from the manic Brendan Fraser who seems downright giddy as he bounces down the press reception line. I would have pulled something from Jet Li but he still doesn't seem comfortable with his English and he seemed unwilling to give the Universal person the answers she was seeking. When she asked if the Comic-Con crowd impressed him, he said no; when she asked if he was excited about the film and the fans, he said he just wanted to get done with his job. The requisite enthusiasm was missing from his comments and after seeing the film I can fully understand why. Anyway, I wanted to share this backstage view provided by Universal so you can get a feel for what it's like. Next year I think I'll film the media circus rather than try and get a three and a half minute interview. I also threw in a clip of the Jet Li - Michelle Yeoh fight.