I shall call him Gerald Monkrief. I’m not protecting him – the story is very public, and his name is out there for all to see. But I just don’t want to reference him, because…well, I’m me.
When I first met Gerald Monkrief, he had no experience in Hollywood and was getting his big break by being a hometown friend of the director, having been hired for an important job on a film I was working on back in my days as the unit publicist. And in all my years working on movies…he is the ONLY person I ever got into a shouting match with. Publicists usually don’t yell at other people, it’s sort of the polar opposite of the job description, where diplomacy is a main requirement. And I personally just don’t get in yelling matches with people, even outside of work. I can’t think of the last time I did, going back to…well, childhood. But this guy had such a dark, cold, surly, bleak personality. Still, I’ve dealt with plenty of "highly-challenging" people (the polite, socially-acceptable term) in my days of Hollywood, and didn’t get into yelling matches with them. So, go figure.
(How bleak and morose was he? I swear this story is true. One of the producers on this project was someone who at times was a quite wonderful fellow, and sometimes…wellllll, sometimes he was utterly bleak and harsh and mean-spirited and reveled in his abrasiveness as a sort of badge of honor. And one day, with a group of people around the camera during filming, someone referenced Gerald and something cold-hearted he’d done, and they made a joke to the producer about how Gerald gave the producer a run for being the nastiest, bleakest person on the movie set…and the producer actually got offended that anyone thought that he was as dark and moody and mean-spirited as Gerald!!! Not in a joking “Oh, no, not me,” kind of way with a laugh, but he really was bothered by the comparison and basically wanted the person to take it back! That’s the level of churlishness we’re talking about here.)
So, what was our yelling match about? We were in the production office at the time. I was in the midst of finalizing the presskit for the movie, which was something I wrote with the production notes on the making of the project, along with biographies of the main participants. He had written something that he wanted used for his own biography -- that was truly awful. I don’t recall what it was, but I wouldn’t use it, the material was embarrassing and cringe-worthy, and I had left it out. He thought it was hilarious, and I said it just was too inappropriate. He insisted, and again I refused. I said the studio would blame me for including it. He got angrier and demanded that I use it. I kept saying no, it would reflect on me since everyone would assume the publicist wrote it, I’d get in trouble, and it was bad -- bad -- and pushed back just as hard. It ratcheted up from there, neither of us giving an inch. We never got to the point of screaming at each other, but it definitely got extremely heated and went on for a while – SO much so, in fact, that we were down the hall from the director’s office and he came out, bewildered and more than a bit perturbed asking what on earth was going on. I explained that Gerald had written something for his bio that was inappropriate and I simply couldn’t use it. I knew I was in a dicey position here – after all, I was the publicist who was supposed to be polite and diplomatic – and Gerald was the director’s hometown friend, a "principal" on the movie. But I have the sense that, knowing Gerald for so long, even the director knew where the bulk of the fault lay… He just said to work it out between us and walked away.
At this point, years later, I don’t recall the exact resolution. I do know that whatever was done, it did not get printed his way. In fact, I just checked my old copy of the presskit, and this is his entire bio that shows up there. It says, in full – “GERALD MONKRIEF lives in New York City along with eight million other people.” And that's it. Period. The whole thing. If I had to guess, I suspect the resolution was that he didn’t want my normal bio and I wouldn't use his, and so perhaps he said, fine, then, just use this, that one sentence.
He ended up working on a few other movies with his director friend, and from there he’s been able to build a very successful career working for prestigious “event TV specials.” And now comes this adorable story about Miss America. It just SO fits him. I don’t know if it will impact his getting hired – I suspect not, but who knows? But I was glad to know that if I was going to get into a yelling match with just one person – it was a guy like this, whose splenetic side was just made public.