Angelina Jolie's Freedom of Press, on Her Terms

Angelina Jolie | Paul McCartney | Odds 'n' Ends

Angelina Jolie's Freedom of Press, on Her Terms

Angelina Jolie's true colors came out Wednesday as she promoted a film about freedom of the press and then tried to censor all her interviews.

Jolie is touting press freedom these days, playing the widow of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in a new movie called "A Mighty Heart."

But Jolie turns out to be a mighty hypocrite when it comes to her own freedom of the press. Her lawyer required all journalists to sign a contract before talking to her, and Jolie instructed publicists at first to ban FOX News from the red carpet of her premiere.

Ironically, Wednesday night's premiere of the excellent Michael Winterbottom-directed film was meant to support an organization called Reporters Without Borders. Jolie, however, did everything she could to clamp down on the press and control it.

Reporters from most major media outlets balked Wednesday when they were presented with an agreement drawn up by Jolie's Hollywood lawyer Robert Offer. The contract closely dictated the terms of all interviews.

Reporters were asked to agree to "not ask Ms. Jolie any questions regarding her personal relationships. In the event Interviewer does ask Ms. Jolie any questions regarding her personal relationships, Ms. Jolie will have the right to immediately terminate the interview and leave."

The agreement also required that "the interview may only be used to promote the Picture. In no event may Interviewer or Media Outlet be entitled to run all or any portion of the interview in connection with any other story. ... The interview will not be used in a manner that is disparaging, demeaning, or derogatory to Ms. Jolie."

If that wasn't enough, Jolie also requires that if any of these things happen, "the tape of the interview will not be released to Interviewer." Such a violation, the signatory thus agrees, would "cause Jolie irreparable harm" and make it possible for her to sue the interviewer and seek a restraining order.

I am told that USA Today and the Associated Press were among those that canceled interviews, and eventually Jolie scotched all print interviews when she heard the reaction.

"I wouldn't sign it," a reporter for a major outlet said. "Who does she think she is?"

A call to Offer was apparently one that could be refused. He didn't return calls. An associate, Lindsay Strasberg, said, before hanging up: "You're a reporter? I can't talk to reporters. Goodbye."

So much for reporters without borders.

That's not all: Jolie told Paramount Pictures publicists to ban FOX News Channel and all FOX News affiliates from covering the "Mighty Heart" premiere on the red carpet. It was only with the intervention of mortified Paramount staff that an FNC camera crew was allowed to be present.

Apparently, no one told Jolie of the highly positive review FOX News had given "A Mighty Heart" from Cannes.

Jolie is famous by now for directing press and selling rights to her photos. She has long been in business with People magazine, orchestrating photo shoots of her children. The money, she says, goes to charity.

This column reported a year ago, on June 8, 2006, about how Jolie and Pitt were responsible for the expulsion of journalists in Namibia where the couple went to have their child, Shiloh. Their bodyguards regularly got into fights with local photographers hoping to make some money from the couple's colonial residency in their country.

After Shiloh was born, Jolie and Pitt gave a news conference, but limited it only to Namibian journalists. No reporters from neighboring countries were allowed.

The couple sat on the dais with Sam Nujoma, Namibia's first president, aka dictator, who ruled for 15 years.

In 2002, Nujoma abruptly appointed himself minister of information and broadcasting. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Nujoma has routinely attacked reporters from his country calling them "unpatriotic" and "the enemy."

During the time Pitt and Jolie were in the country, a former photographer for the Namibian, the daily newspaper, was arrested twice for trying to get a picture of the couple.

South African John Liebenberg was arrested on municipal property during the Jolie-Pitt stay and pronounced guilty of trespassing. His passport and camera equipment were confiscated as well.

Treatment of the press is so bad in Namibia, in fact, that an organization called the National Society for Human Rights was formed several years ago to protect reporters' rights.

The NSHR, which is usually busy with more important matters, issued a statement on April 24 strongly condemning the deportation of foreign journalists from Namibia who wanted to cover the Pitt-Jolie visit.

"As the principal human rights monitoring and advocacy organization in this country, we strongly repudiate this unprecedented and blatant violation of the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media," the statement read.

It's a little unclear how Mariane Pearl, whom Jolie plays in "A Mighty Heart," feels about her portrayer's position on freedom of press for some, but not all. On Wednesday, I spoke to Jeff Julliard, the editorial director of Reporters Without Borders in Paris.

"Paparazzi should be allowed to do their job," he said, adding that he condemned Jolie's banning of FOX News and actions taken on her behalf in Namibia.

Paul McCartney: Heather Who?

If you thought Paul McCartney was licking his wounds thanks to his nasty divorce from Heather Mills, guess again.

On Wednesday night, McCartney — just days away from his 65th birthday — pulled out all the stops for a surprise rock show in a small club in Manhattan.

Drawing in around 700 fans to the High Line on 16th Street and 10th Avenue, McCartney and a four-piece highly charged rock band put on a nearly two-hour show that covered his Beatles years, a little bit from Wings and a couple of tracks from "Memory Almost Full," his excellent new album on Starbucks/Hear Music Records.

And there were just enough luminaries scattered about to give the event some glitz, like Whoopi Goldberg, Elijah Wood, Little Steven Van Zandt, New Line Cinemas chairman Michael Lynne, Steve Buscemi, Aidan Quinn and Elizabeth Bracco, music manager Danny Bennett and a good portion of the Eastman family, Paul's always in-laws. Wood, in particular, was wide-eyed.

"I've never seen him live before," he said.

McCartney devoted a lot of the show to the Beatles, with "Drive My Car," "I'll Follow the Sun," "Hey Jude," "Let it Be," "Long and Winding Road," "Blackbird," "Lady Madonna," "I Saw Her Standing There," "Back in the USSR," "I've Got a Feeling" and "Get Back."

Songs from his solo and Wings years were scarce. The beautiful but little-known "Calico Skies" was resurrected from the "Flaming Pie" album. He dedicated "Here Today" (1982) to "our fallen heroes: John, George and Linda."

From the new album, McCartney showed off his mandolin playing on "Dance Tonight" and reveled in the drama of "House of Wax."

For some reason, he failed to play the album's centerpiece, "Ever Present Past," but did justice to the jolly autobiographical number, "That Was Me."

There were no surprises per se except that McCartney looked terrific and sounded even better. How he's singing so well at this age is a mystery; he hits all the high notes, and gives out a yelpin' Little Richard-like rock scream that seems impossible.

Because of the odd angle of our position in the mezzanine, we also got to see a lot of his boogie-woogie piano playing. It's solid and really cool to behold.

Later, at an after-party held on Norfolk Street at the Back Room, McCartney held court, greeted friends like actor Clive Owen and told me that he had be on tour in 2008.

He is also going to Las Vegas at the end of this month to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Beatles "Love" show with Cirque du Soleil. Also, there should be a small club show like this one in Los Angeles right after that.

When is the show, I asked Paul?

"I have no idea," he said with a grin. "I just go where they tell me."

Odds 'n' Ends

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