Update on my Borat-ed friend.
November 13, 2006 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Remember this guy? He was one of the drunken frat guys in the Borat movie. He's the only one of the three who decided not to sue. He got an offer to do a tell-all interview with Rolling Stone, and he's considering it. The two guys suing want him not to talk to the media, and he doesn't want to piss them off. However, he does want his side of the story to be told. He wants to find some way of tactfully not commenting on the lawsuit, aside from saying "I didn't see any benefit in participating in it, so I'm not." He wants to come off as humble and somewhat remorseful, but also letting people know that editing is everything. Any tips on how he should handle the interview? Should he do it at all?
posted by kidsleepy to Media & Arts (52 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
He wants to come off as humble and somewhat remorseful, but also letting people know that editing is everything.

Then he should write his story, and not give an interview. Rolling Stone will write whatever they please. Maybe they'll interview him and decide he's a dick, and that's what they'll write. And then his name is just that much more out there.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:16 AM on November 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

I agree with ThePinkSuperhero. Since he understands that "Editing is everything", he should realize that Rolling Stone might not be very sympathetic, and might skew his words.

If he does go through with the interview, he should at least make sure (legally) that he gets to review the article and approve it before it's published.
posted by DrSkrud at 11:22 AM on November 13, 2006

Chiming in to agree with the posters above. In my non-media-expert opinion, the best thing for him to do is lie low and forget about it. Giving an interview will just mean that the story is kept in the minds of the public for even longer than it would have been anyway.

I don't mean this to sound harsh, but really - this means much more to your friend than it does to anyone else. The film will be out of cinemas in no time and nobody will remember it - unless he keeps it going by being "that guy who ..."

As for interviews to tell his side of the story - as someone who occasionally writes for newspapers, let me tell you: nobody is going to write a story about 'a regular guy who made a mistake'. Where's the story in that? The reporter will be looking for an angle, and s/he probably won't know what it is until after the interview. Your friend won't have a chance to control his image in this way.

Seriously, he should just try to put it behind him. Everyone else will have forgotten about it in no time.
posted by different at 11:30 AM on November 13, 2006

He would be trying to rehabilitate himself through this article? I guess there will be some crossover between the people who saw the movie and think he's a dufus and the people who read the RS article. . . . but even then, that only works if there's some sort of magical guarantee that RS will write the article he wants written. And then he's going to . . . what? Laminate the article and carry it around in his pocket to show to people who think he's a dumbass and who didn't happen to grab the magazine?

He shouldn't give the interview. It's only going to draw out this whole thing. The great thing about media frenzies (if this can even be called one) is that they so often have a lifespan measured in seconds.
posted by veggieboy at 11:30 AM on November 13, 2006

Magazine articles are edited too. That kid should just be quiet for the next fifteen years. Maybe he can pick up a thing or two in that time and have something to say worth saying.
posted by ND¢ at 11:36 AM on November 13, 2006

He could write an OpEd instead - for the local paper or for an entertainment related website. The Media tends to look favorably on people who apologize. I would think being apologetic would be the best angle.

Hopefully he'll use this opportunity to examine his ideas about race.
posted by serazin at 11:38 AM on November 13, 2006

He wants to come off as humble and somewhat remorseful, but also letting people know that editing is everything.

So he wants people to know that he's sorry, but that he doesn't really have anything to be sorry about? That's bullshit and RS is salivating at the chance to rip the "editing is everything" nonsense apart and champion Cohen for exposing these guys' attitudes. He shouldn't do the interview.
posted by mullacc at 11:40 AM on November 13, 2006

This is something he should be talking to a publicist about, not askme.
posted by empath at 11:52 AM on November 13, 2006

Is he even going to follow the advice in here this time around?

Had he listened to the general consensus last time, he would be a movie star right now. ("Yeah, you know that's all acting right? We didn't really mean any of that. It's a script!")

That said, I guess it wouldn't hurt to do the interview, but I wouldn't do it.
posted by dead_ at 11:55 AM on November 13, 2006

I guess I don't have much to add except to defend the honor of people who write for Rolling Stone. Not every journo is going to turn a News & Notes story into some kind of gotcha hell.

If it were me, I would use this opening to try to, as other have said, see if RS would print something I would write. Let it ride in that way.
posted by blueshammer at 11:56 AM on November 13, 2006

If I were him, the only way I would do this would be if I was getting paid a nice chunk of change. Any kind of publicity will simply further magnify the potential for more hell coming his way, so, if he doesn't want to go down the rational, wise route which is IGNORE and hunker down, the only reasonable offset is to GET MOTHAFUCKIN PAID.
posted by spicynuts at 11:56 AM on November 13, 2006

When you see people continue to flog some embarrassment, you have to wonder what they have to sell. With Kevin Federline, you can understand; with this guy, not so much...
posted by MarkAnd at 12:07 PM on November 13, 2006

I think he should lay low and say nothing. Like some of the above said, it'll all blow over in no time. I saw the movie a week ago and I sure wouldn't recognize the three frat guys if they bumped into me on the street. Blissful anonymity will be his again soon.
posted by ktoad at 12:09 PM on November 13, 2006

defend the honor of people who write for Rolling Stone

Ha ha ha ha ha.

He might find someone willing to tell his side of the story, but it sure as hell isn't going to be Rolling Stone. They still have their faux-liberal/washed-up-hippy credentials to maintain, so the only possible story they could print is "evil racist is evil, Cohen is hilarious." Also they are full participants in the publicity machine shoving Cohen down the world's throat right now.

Probably best to wait a while, or else talk to a legitimate newspaper.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:11 PM on November 13, 2006

kidsleepy, what are you, the guy's publicist?

please just admit you are, in fact, the guy who was in the movie and take your cockpunch like a man.
posted by nineRED at 12:12 PM on November 13, 2006

Response by poster: Alledgedly, he's going to see a final copy of the article and get to okay it. I was doubtful about this, much as you all are. He's not worried about the embarrasment anymore. He's dealt with that. Is there any way he could do this interview that would help him? Or is it the general consensus that it's only going to make things worse?
posted by kidsleepy at 12:15 PM on November 13, 2006

Response by poster: and no, i'm not the guy, just a friend. i wouldn't abuse mefi like that.
posted by kidsleepy at 12:16 PM on November 13, 2006

RS would never let him "okay" the article before it's published. Journalism just doesn't work that way. His quotations, sure, and they'll fact-check it. But a final OK over what's printed? Never.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:17 PM on November 13, 2006

Or is it the general consensus that it's only going to make things worse?

Ding ding ding.

Still, I'm guessing your friend wants to do it (OMG I'M FAMOUS!!11), so be sure to post the link to the article in Metatalk. Maybe we'll all be wrong, who knows.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:25 PM on November 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

"If he does go through with the interview, he should at least make sure (legally) that he gets to review the article and approve it before it's published."

Excuse me while I take a brief moment to laugh at the droves of people here who have no fucking clue what they're talking about.
Yeah, Rolling Stone will be happy to give approval rights to some schlub who's the third source in a story about some retard fratboys.

Look, that's how this story is gonna go. He's not the focus— the lawsuit is. He can either be a "refused comment" (which if he's gonna do, he should be polite about, as the first lesson for aspiring journalists is how to make someone who didn't answer your questions look like he has something to hide), or he can be a couple of lines about why he's not joining the suit.

Here's what's going to happen— they're going to ask if his friends are like that all the time, they're going to ask why he's not joining the lawsuit, they're going to ask why they said what they did.
He can answer all questions with one or two words. That gets rid of all the juicy quotes and can be maddening for a journalist.
He can write out a prepared statement and stick to it, refusing to go further. Something a little more polished than "I got egged on while drunk and was edited to look worse than I was, but I'm really sorry if I offended anyone," but that should probably be the basic gist. It won't actually help defray his reputation to people who have already seen the movie, but it'll make him come across as less of a douche to people who read the article first and then see the movie.
Something to watch out for when doing the prepared statement— partial sentences can be quoted out of context to make people look more like douchebags. It's unethical but it happens. Keep the prose simple, and avoid convoluted formal clause structure.
If possible, do the interview over email, because you a) give more stilted quotes, b) can read over what you responded with before sending, making it less likely that you're ambushed and say something dumb while flustered, c) have a record of what you said and basically guarantee verbatim quotes.

If your friend wants any more advice, tell him to get a publicist (or hire me to be his media consultant. Email's in the profile).
posted by klangklangston at 12:27 PM on November 13, 2006

Should he do it at all?

that depends on how concerned he is about being called as a witness in the other two's trial ... ideally, he should just tell the reporter that he's been advised that he should not say anything to anyone ... but realistically, it may be better to give a short interview to a reporter that makes his friends' lawyers believe that he will not be a useful or sympathetic witness ... because i really don't think he wants to get dragged into that, either

my honest view is that he should talk to a lawyer before he does the interview ... unfortunately, since his friends may be dragging him into the legal system against his will, laying low may not be his best option ... or an option at all

(can he transfer to another school? ... that might be his best bet)
posted by pyramid termite at 12:51 PM on November 13, 2006

Echoing klangklangston: he will absolutely NOT get the right to see and approve of the article before RS goes to press. He's not Britney Spears giving People magazine an exclusive; in other words, RS has absolutely no interest in whether or not he's happy with the outcome. They just want the story. And if he doesn't SHUT UP, he's just going to keep being a part of the story. The thing is, there's no magical way for him to get the last word here. The only thing that's going to help him is time.

And if he really can't just shut up, then (also as klangklangston says) he needs to hire a media professional to deal with these sorts of issues, not rely on some friend polling AskMe on his behalf.
posted by scody at 12:56 PM on November 13, 2006

I would wager that since Rolling Stone loves Baron Cohen and Borat, there's no way RS will make this guy look good. I asvise staying as far away from RS as possible, and also, I second the advice to politely say "I'm sorry for my behavior and don't wish to comment on the incident."
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:02 PM on November 13, 2006

Knowing kids that go to Carolina, no one cares down there anymore. They have plenty of other issues, similar to other schools, that need to be solved.

If you friend does do the interveiw, make sure they don't take him out drinking.

Personally, I would not do the interview. I liked klanglangston's "If possible, do the interview over email" idea the best. But by the time you finally realize what you want to say the story will be old to the reporter (hopefully). And CC or BCC a third party in. (maybe you kidsleepy!) But know to keep your interview positive about everything. Saying negative things makes you seem worse.

I have to give him props for not sueing. This is America and I beleive that more than 80 percent of people will sue when they have the chance. In the long run, I beleive it'll help his reputation and make it all go away faster. I think it shows a step towards responsibility.

This is Borat. There are worse things out there.

Oh and I don't think you, "kidsleepy" is the guy. Non-frat people say "frat", otherwise it's fraternity. I hope your thanked for being a supportive friend.
posted by thetenthstory at 1:23 PM on November 13, 2006

Don't, don't, don't say anything. He doesn't want to be even more google-able does he? Not being litigious is the best thing he could have done in my opinion. It shows that he's not an ass. He's not wanting to go into the media is he? Then there's a very good chance that no one will know who he is when he goes to get a job.

I have not had time to see the movie yet, but I saw Borat when he was on Ali G on HBO so I have a pretty good idea of what he brought out. Drunk frat guys are drunk frat guys. People generally understand this. Even the smug, self-satisfied types.

I make it a point never to do interviews or have my picture taken in the paper for this very reason. I don't have final control so I have no idea how it will portray me. That may seem paranoid but I've seen completely innocent people get burned by poor picture placement or ambiguous and selective quoting. Not that they said anything racist or sexist like I'm sure your frat friend said, but it takes special skill to be able to speak to the media in any capacity and see all the ways they can spin it.
posted by geoff. at 1:39 PM on November 13, 2006

I'm repeating what I said last time, but I see two good options for him: politely decline to the interview, or go post his own story on the net for all to see. Blog it, videos on youtube, discuss the whole shady way that the crew got their footage, and maybe link to this story for some folks that probably made out out the worst of all from Borat. Promote it properly and the news stories will be linking to his story for "another view" on the issue.

At least if he posts his own story, admitting he said some really stupid things, folks googling him in the future can read his words and make up their own mind about him, rather then seeing what the RS thinks or the frat thinks or the other two guys said.
posted by rsanheim at 2:01 PM on November 13, 2006

Well the first thing that your friend has done right is not to get involved with the lawsuit. These guys are going to get smeared in court if this is anything to go by...
posted by ob at 2:17 PM on November 13, 2006

Why on earth is he even considering giving someone else editorial control over how his story appears to the public? Has he ever heard of the freaking internet? All he has to do is put his story up online and I guarantee every gossip column along the tubes will link to it. Oh, right - then he doesn't get any money.

Good lord, he's not convincing anyone of his smarts here. If he does stupidly decide to go to Rolling Stone instead of posting it himself, he should be sure to tape record the conversation to cover his ass. Don't rely on the reporter's recording; make one for yourself while you're being interviewed.
posted by mediareport at 2:38 PM on November 13, 2006

I think someone mentioned around here that the contract itself was posted, but I haven't read it. Has he made sure that under the terms of the original contract (at least until, or if, it is considered invalid) he is allowed to talk about his involvement with the film? If the lawyers involved were careful enough to know the tightrope they had to walk to be able to obtain consent yet deceive the participants about what they were agreeing to, I would be surprised if they didn't include some kind of restriction on his speaking about the film (if that kind of agreement is even allowed).
posted by troybob at 2:41 PM on November 13, 2006

Remember all the press and nonsense that Hugh Grant went thru after getting caught with a hooker? The talk show appearances, the articles, the interviews, etc? No? Neither do I. That's because he didn't do any. He disappeared and the story went away. Now, contrast that to the idiots caught in a similar situation who insist on setting the record straight.
posted by dobbs at 3:35 PM on November 13, 2006

Best answer: His frat-mates' lawyers don't want him to do the interview because it might provide material that could be used to challenge their clients' account of events. If your friend is really concerned about this, he should try to get hold of whatever documents related to their suit that he can -- depositions, affidavits, the complaint itself -- and ensure he doesn't say anything that might undermine the case they are trying to make. The lawyers could help with this, but they might not be willing to. From their point of view, it is all downside...

Regarding the interview, there are some basic precautions you can take, viz:

-- Think in advance about what you want to say and how to say it. What questions would *you* ask, and how should you answer them. Are there any "red lines" -- things you *don't* want to say, or questions you don't want to answer?

-- Record the interview, and make sure that the magazine is going to fact check the quotes.

-- Don't get drunk, and don't be charmed, flattered or otherwise bamboozled. Keep focused on the message you want to get out there.

But the bottom line is, once you agree to the interview, you are more or less at the reporter's mercy. The only way to make a sensible decision is to try and check out the reporter. Read their previous stories, google the subjects, see if people they have interviewed before have complained or felt misrepresented.

Hope that helps.
posted by capnsue at 3:43 PM on November 13, 2006

Don't, don't, don't say anything.

Agreed. Anything he says will/would be in the "public record." What impact such will have in the future (i.e. available on "the Google" and "the Internets") on his career and personal life needs to be taken into account. My advice: keep quiet.
posted by ericb at 4:01 PM on November 13, 2006

I doubt editing had anything to do with what he actually said. You can't say the things those guys said and claim it was taken out of context, even if there was som splicing/editing going on.

Tell him to go hide. Maybe it's just me, but I don't really care what any of those guys had to say. He's going to look like a big liar and an even bigger jerk if he tries to argue that the editing was what made him look like a jerk.

Of course, he could always use Mel Gibson's apology. But if he tries to blame it on Sasha Baron Cohen or editing, he's just going to look like he's making excuses.
posted by onepapertiger at 4:03 PM on November 13, 2006

Remember all the press and nonsense that Hugh Grant went thru after getting caught with a hooker? The talk show appearances, the articles, the interviews, etc? No? Neither do I. That's because he didn't do any. He disappeared and the story went away. Now, contrast that to the idiots caught in a similar situation who insist on setting the record straight.

Ah, but there was his 'mea culpa' on the 'Tonight Show' with Jay Leno on July 10, 1995!
"I think you know in life what's a good thing to do and what's a bad thing, and I did a bad thing..and there you have it."
posted by ericb at 4:05 PM on November 13, 2006

Hugh Grant link.
posted by ericb at 4:06 PM on November 13, 2006

If he wants to get back to his, erm, normal life as soon as possible, a Rolling Stone interview is definitely not the way to go about it.

However, this sounds like it'd be an entertaining read. So I'd encourage him to do it.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 4:09 PM on November 13, 2006

I'm guessing he's not suing because he's the one of the three who managed to not make himself look like a complete douchebag. Good for him.

If he's quick (3 weeks max until eveyone's forgotten all about this) and is sure he's not going to screw his buddies' case (or maybe he really doesn't care?) he should jump on for the 15 minute ride o' fame. Not everyone gets the chance to be in in Rolling Stone. But hell, he's already been in the "funniest movie of the decade."

His pals with the suit are already totally screwed for getting dates in the foreseeable future. They don't have a lot to lose.
posted by braintoast at 4:54 PM on November 13, 2006

Just lay low. I saw Borat about a month ago in sneak preview; I don't remember what anyone involved looked like, and I don't know their names. If he keeps his picture and name off the Internet and out of the papers, he'll be just fine. Besides, the Borat producer shadiness is coming out, and your friend might be vindicated regardless. If he must tell his side of the story, I vote he blog or youtube it.
posted by lunalaguna at 5:22 PM on November 13, 2006

I'd just like to jump on the bandwagon and say that no veteran, professional journalist in the world is going to give you final editorial review. In fact, they will not let you read the final copy and they sure as hell won't let you veto anything. It is actually considered an ethical conflict of interest.

That is to say, your friend is committing the exact same mistake that got him into this mess.

Send RS a contrite, written apology. Take responsibility. In fact, he's in luck. He can be the bigger man and take responsibility and everyone will still know the mitigating circumstances, because the litigious frat buddies already have all that on the record. So, don't bother making excuses. Feel free to visably CC somebody or have a lawyer read it first if that's a concern.

Also, I haven't seen the movie, but some voluntary sacrifice like submitting oneself to racial sensitivity training or hands-on volunteering for a cause that helps those one was likely to offend would certainly add some cred to those sidewalk "hey! it's you, asshole!" apologies and it is probably needed anyway. Any profit made off this 15 minutes of infamy should go to charity anyway.
posted by Skwirl at 5:59 PM on November 13, 2006

Even if your friend is very careful about what he says, he still has no control over what appears in the article. Every story gets something wrong. When my wife was featured in a New York Times story, they mixed her up with one of her partners. Every story where I've known one of the participants has had some similar (though ususally minor) problem. So don't expect the writer to stick to "just the facts."
posted by rikschell at 6:55 PM on November 13, 2006

If your friend does the interview, well, this Citizen Kane quote comes to mind:

Anybody else, I'd say what's gonna happen to you would be a lesson to you. Only you're gonna need more than one lesson. And you're gonna get more than one lesson.
posted by IvyMike at 7:53 PM on November 13, 2006

awww. tell him to join the suit. borat's made enough money to settle.

or else turn the event into a positive by raising your profile through an apology etc.- but remember if its not settled you will be forced to testify in a trial and your name wil come up then all over....
posted by Izzmeister at 8:21 PM on November 13, 2006

"Humble and remorseful" people don't give interviews to Rolling Stone.

Doing anything other than smiling and chuckling after being duped by a master like Borat can only make your friend look like a bad sport without a sense of humor. Not a good way to start his career as an adult. Think of all the politicians taken in by Mr. Baron Cohen -- or the Daily Show, for that matter: Not a one has told "their side of the story" to the press (that I know of), because they know that to belabor the point after the fact just makes you look like a douche.

I don't understand the crybaby lawsuit, or these dudes' pathetic public/online whining about being suckered by Borat. When I was in college, appearing drunk in an RV in a blockbuster comedy -- my own bigoted ravings be damned -- would be the Coolest. Fucking. Thing. Ever. It would also probably get me an awesome job as a commodities trader, since I'd bring it up in every on-campus interview.

Kids today. I swear.
posted by turducken at 10:32 PM on November 13, 2006

I have to agree with empath.

Don't ask AskMeFi, ask a publicist.
posted by ASM at 10:44 PM on November 13, 2006

Lawsuit -> Out of court settlement -> $$$

Rolling Stone Article -> Prolonged Public Exposure -> unhappiness & potential loss of job prospects (that's -$$$).

If it were me, I may or may not sue, but I would sure as sunrise shut the hell up. But don't ask me, I'm neither a lawyer, nor a publicist.
posted by blenderfish at 1:28 AM on November 14, 2006

The lawsuit isn't about whining.

Ok. Let's say the movie, all told, makes 100 Million dollars. It cost what.. 10 Million to make at _most_? Maybe another 30 Million to market.

Your friend is 1/4 (his buddies and Sacha) of 5 minutes of an 84 minute film.. So.. One could make an argument from simple that your friend is entitled to about $892,000 of the net profits. That's neglecting any punitive damages, considering the skullduggery involved. Also take into account that they'll be defending about a dozen or two of these lawsuits, and if any of them go to court and go bad, that sets an extremely extremely bad precedent re: their little 'bulletproof' disclaimer.

Just saying.
posted by blenderfish at 1:48 AM on November 14, 2006

Best answer: He has decided not to do the RS interview.
posted by kidsleepy at 6:08 AM on November 14, 2006

According to this Slate article, the non-suing member of the trio decided to give his account to the always-classy FHM.
posted by paleography at 6:30 AM on November 14, 2006

Response by poster: paleography- he did the fhm interview this summer, before the movie came out and he saw what made it to the final cut.
posted by kidsleepy at 5:22 PM on November 15, 2006

Best answer:
is the interview he decided to give.
posted by kidsleepy at 8:27 AM on November 19, 2006

he came off ok with that ... and it sounds like he really didn't come off too bad in the movie ... (he called women "bitches and hoes" when he was drunk? ... a lot of men have gotten that way when they're drunk ... and you should hear what women have to say about men when they've been drinking)

not a big deal ... he should just let it ride ...
posted by pyramid termite at 8:35 AM on November 19, 2006

Borat 1
Dopey Frat Boys 0

posted by nineRED at 9:51 AM on December 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

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