Dream Work: L&A attends the Old School press junket in L.A.

DreamWorks paid for Life & Art to attend a press screening and junket in Los Angeles for Old School starring Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson. The film, an “obscene” college comedy in the vein of PCU and National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, consists of two large laughs, boring romantic subplots, and nude scenes with Will Ferrell’s pasty ass and four breasts. Director Todd Phillips, who also made 2000’s similar, funnier Road Trip, does not take full advantage of the R-rating, and cameos by Craig Kilborn and Snoop Dogg (milking it) deflate quickly.

Yet, prepare to have this film channeled casually into your daily life when it inevitably pops up on Comedy Central in full rotation mode for the next five years. Upon the 400th missed-an-hour-what-the-hell viewing, any pre-exisiting edge of mediocrity will be worn down into a comforting nub of summer lethargy. By then Ferrell will surely be light years beyond Chevy Chase.

Back in L.A., the director and stars of Old School spoke at a press conference at the Century Plaza Hotel, right down the street from the Park Hyatt Los Angeles, where select college journalists spent the weekend congregating, emptying hotel room mini bars, and staring at the studio-laden horizon in awe from our hotel’s scenic balconies.

At the conference, Ferrell, Vaughn, and a somewhat disoriented Wilson, sat down at a table in front of thirty or so journalists. Ferrell chuckled about doing press on each floor of the hotel, while Vaughn, hotel policy be damned, lit up five cigarettes (at least) in the course of 40 minutes; based on the conference, Vaughn is blessed with an admirably cocky attitude. Wilson sat there in a daze with his mouth partially open, focusing periodically to answer ill-fitting questions like, “How did you prepare for this role.” His answer, “For this type of movie, I really didn’t need to.”

Ferrell, who belonged to a frat at the University of Southern California, eased some tension in the room by delighting in a few of his collegiate experiences.

“I would find out what classes certain friends were in and dress up like a janitor, go into their class and just stand there…and I also killed someone,” he laughed.

After the Q&A, the three actors left the room quickly, hindering any chance for a photo opportunity. When I alerted DreamWorks employees that no one got off a decent shot, they scheduled a meeting with the talent later that day. Soon after Chris Rock answered questions about his much-awaited rehash of Eddie Murphy’s The Distinguished Gentleman, Head of State, for which attending press was shown only a trailer (complete with a Snoop Dogg “fo shizzle” reference), it was time for a photo session with the Old Schoolers.

In the lowest level of the hotel, a television special for the film was
being prepared, possibly for MTV. An elaborate, brightly lit set assuming the look of a wild college dorm: popcorn on the floor, foose ball table, worn-in couch, red cups, took up a quarter of the room, surrounded by cameras, various suits and casually dressed cameramen. The photo situation was explained to the three actors, and each complied by walking over to the couch and sitting on an armrest. Cameras pointed, they smiled sarcastically and flashes started going off.

“How does it feel, does it feel good?” asked Ferrell in a half-joking been-there-done-that tone of voice.

Hollywood is, not surprisingly, a world operating on a seperate axis. When I returned to Miami on the redeye, I felt like a paparazzo, like a PR spindle gone awry. Nothing in life is free.

Hunter Stephenson can be reached at HurricaneAccent@hotmail.com.