GQ’s take on ‘Captain America’s’ Chris Evans: Worst celebrity profile ever?

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I confess that I haven’t been paying that much attention to the career of Chris Evans, who stars in ‘Captain America: The First Avenger,’ due out next month. But after reading the amazing cover story on him in the July issue of GQ, he must be quite an actor. The story, by Edith Zimmerman, doesn’t tell us all that much about Evans. But it speaks volumes about the new era of star-struck celebrity journalism.

For years, my eyes have been glazing over whenever I read celeb profiles because they almost invariably offer such an impossibly glowing assessment of showbiz personalities, even the ones that are notorious--inside the business--for being impossibly bratty, self-absorbed and shallow egomaniacs. The problem is that the days when a journalist could get up close and personal with hellraisers like Steve McQueen or Peter O'Toole for a week at a time are long gone. Today’s entertainment reporters rarely get any prolonged access to the stars, so they are forced to print what they’ve been able to learn about them in a very short time, which is usually very little.


And then there’s Edith Zimmerman, the GQ writer, who actually went to a real saloon with Evans--Sonny McLean’s in Santa Monica, my very own neighborhood Irish pub. Unfortunately, Zimmerman, by her own account, did just as much drinking as Evans, getting so ‘hammered’ (Evans’ word, not mine) that when it comes time for her to tell us, her loyal readers, exactly what happened, she has one big problem--she can’t remember anything! In fact, she admits in the piece that she was so enamored by Evans’ flirtatious behavior that ‘I never opened the notebook of questions I had brought with me.’

Whether Evans was actually flirting with Zimmerman or just cagily buttering up a magazine writer who was doing an important profile about him is never made clear, but based on my experience, I’m betting on buttering up. Celebs always cozy up to reporters, putting their best foot forward with us. In the case of Evans, it was apparently his hands, not his feet. Zimmerman says that from 10 minutes into their meeting at the bar, Evans ‘reached across the table to punctuate a joke by putting his hand on top of mine, Chris kept up frequent hand holding and lower-back touching, palm kissing and knee squeezing.’

Instead of being put off or trying to keep a reportorial distance, Zimmerman just kept drinking, rationalizing her actions this way: ‘Since we’re both single and roughly the same age, it was hard for me not to treat our interview as a sort of date.’ Yikes! I don’t have to tell you this is dumb in so many ways, starting with the deluded assumption that a movie star lavishing attention on a reporter should possibly be viewed as anything but a canny way to conduct a business transaction. Let me put it this way: I once interviewed Madonna at the height of her sexual powers, when we were both single and roughly the same age, and despite some very chummy behavior on her part, I never dreamed for an instant that we were on some sort of date.

The story gets even worse as it goes along, with Zimmerman ending up back at Evans’ house that night, where she sleeps off her drunk in a guest bedroom before slinking out at 5:30 the next morning. Apparently she never got out her reporter’s notebook, since she admits in the piece: ‘Here is where I’d describe his house, except--I don’t remember any of it.’ Geez, lady, don’t you think you’ve embarrassed yourself enough already? The most depressing aspect about this hapless attempt at celebrity journalism isn’t that Zimmerman is willing to tell the world how easily she fell for a movie star, or that GQ was willing to print it, but that the story violated rule No. 1 of good journalism: She can’t even remember what happened.

--Patrick Goldstein