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Wednesday, June 22,2011

The Screening Room

He said, she said, he said, the 'Transformers' way

by James Sanford

Some people probably shouldn't give interviews. As recent comments show us, that includes just about anyone associated with the "Transformers" franchise.


Most of America is now well aware that "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" is opening nationwide next Wednesday (or Tuesday, if you're willing to spend the extra bucks to see it in IMAX). However, much of the advance press seems to focus not on the film, but on a mini-scandal that's now several months old: the dismissal of former "Transformers" leading lady Megan Fox.


Like many young actors, Fox made the mistake of treating an interview like a therapy session. It frequently happens at press junkets: Eager to provide reporters with something juicy, fledgling stars reveal opinions, grievances and secrets that should have been addressed in confidential company.


In September 2009, three months after the release of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," Fox told the English magazine Wonderland that "Transformers" director Michael Bay had endangered her safety and that of co-star Shia LaBeouf (who plays unlikely hero Sam Witwicky) on the set via his determination to pump up the action.


"He's like Napoleon and he wants to create this insane, infamous mad-man reputation," she commented.


"Shia and I almost die when we make a 'Transformers' movie," she continued. "He has you do some really insane things that insurance would never let you do."


That wasn't quite enough, apparently — she was forced to elaborate.


"He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is. So he's a nightmare to work for but when you get him away from set, and he's not in director mode, I kind of really enjoy his personality because he's so awkward, so hopelessly awkward."


Fox's candid confessions quickly crossed the Atlantic. Crew members who had worked on the "Transformers" series cooked up their own open letter to the media, accusing Fox of being temperamental, stand-offish, rude and, just in case readers didn't get the point, a "thankless, classless, graceless, and shall we say unfriendly bitch."


So no one exactly died of shock in the spring of 2010 when, as "Dark of the Moon" was heading into production, it was announced that Fox would not be onboard. Fox's people tried to save face by declaring that it was her decision not to return. Yeah, right, the media snorted.


More than a year later, the embers refuse to die. In a recent interview with GQ, Bay said the decision to dismiss Fox came from executive producer Steven Spielberg.


Now LaBeouf has gotten into the act, telling the Los Angeles Times: “Megan developed this Spice Girl strength, this woman-empowerment (stuff) that made her feel awkward about her involvement with Michael, who some people think is a very lascivious filmmaker, the way he films women.”


But why stop there? “Mike films women in a way that appeals to a 16-year-old sexuality," LaBeouf said. "It’s summer. It’s Michael’s style. And I think (Fox) never got comfortable with it. This is a girl who was taken from complete obscurity and placed in a sex-driven role in front of the whole world and told she was the sexiest woman in America. And she had a hard time accepting it.”


Such problems are in the past now: Fox was replaced not by an actress, but by former Victoria's Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who it's safe to say is no stranger to "a sex-driven role."


Instead of Fox's "very cold biker chick," Mikaela — LaBeouf 's description — Huntington-Whiteley plays "more of a maternal, loving type. Sam wants a domestic, eggs-in-the-morning kind of a thing,” LaBeouf told the Times.


So in other words, LaBeouf tells us, women in TransformersLand have two purposes: to make the bed and to make it in bed. And if they've got any complaints about the job requirements, they'd better keep quiet.


See why some people shouldn't give interviews?

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