Amy Roberts: A hen in the Fox house
January 22, 2014
The longer one lives in Park City, the bigger Sundance tales become. It seems every longtime local has heard about the Parkite whose neighbor’s, cousin’s, teacher’s, daughter got discovered by a filmmaker while in line at Starbucks over Sundance and that person is now Julia Roberts. Or we all know someone who claims to know someone who insists he once pulled over to help a stranded motorist on 224 and it was Jennifer Aniston. So touched by his selflessness, she invited him to her film and exclusive premiere party. They dated for a while after that. Or there’s the urban Sundance legend about the time somebody in this town waited on Robert Redford while he dined and, after a brief discussion between the appetizer and main course, Bob decided to pay for the waiter’s college education. It seems festival folklore has a way of becoming more far-fetched each year.
But no matter the unbelievable indie-film legend you’ve heard, this year, I’ve got one that can top it. And I’ve got the photos and paystub to prove it. Believe it or not, I spent the last several days working for my sworn enemy: Fox News.
Now, if this is your first time reading this column, you might be thinking "That poor girl! But what’s so preposterous about it?"
Well, like Fox News, you obviously haven’t done your research on me. As a general rule, I refer to them only as "Faux News." I devote paragraphs in this column, calling them out on their lies, racism, anti-women and anti-gay agendas. When aspiring journalists ask me for advice, I often tell them "Do the exact opposite of anything you ever see on Fox News."
So you could say I was quite surprised when I was asked to work with them to cover the opening weekend of Sundance. (Further proof they don’t do any research before making someone part of their team.)
But in all honesty, it wasn’t that bad. Maybe a little embarrassing because I was seen carrying a Fox News microphone up and down Main Street all weekend, but the actual experience was kind of fun. And even more shocking, I genuinely liked the conservative correspondent I spent 14 hours a day with.
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It all came about when a production company I freelance for asked me to help with a package for a national outlet. They sent me a shot list, which left me salivating. We had access to everything — VIP gifting suites, red carpets, premiere parties and more. I was so excited I said "YES!" immediately. It wasn’t until I got an email from the correspondent I realized who the client was. Not just Fox News, but the O’Reilly Factor!
Despite my reservations, I knew I couldn’t cancel. I had made a commitment. So I prepared for the weekend wondering if this is what prostitutes feel like their first time. And I justified it by vowing to donate my pay to the ACLU, National Organization for Women and Greenpeace.
I also made sure I parked my correspondent right next to the Huffington Post or MSNBC crew in the press lines on the red carpets. I’m not sure if reason is contagious, but I knew it couldn’t hurt. After all, this was a man who insisted gluten-free food was part of the liberal agenda. I had to explain to him I don’t think celiac disease is cured by voting Republican.
When celebrities did make it to us in the press line (at least those who didn’t avoid us when they saw the Fox News microphone) he asked them if they thought Obama was doing a good job. To which I often muttered, "He hasn’t invaded the wrong country yet, so he gets props for that." And when he asked one movie star what she thinks is the biggest problem facing America, I nearly choked on my laughter when she responded: "Bill O’Reilly."
In our downtime, we would shoot the breeze, and that’s when I found myself enjoying his company and actually liking him. He told me his parents were hippie liberals who had been arrested for protesting the Vietnam War. He adores his kids and wife. He is steadfast in his beliefs, but was respectful of mine. After getting turned down by a number of celebrities he hoped to interview, he even told me I was the one bright spot of this assignment. (But that was before we discussed gun control, so I’m not sure it still stands.)
We didn’t agree on anything politically, but somehow we worked really well together as a team. We both had a job to do and put aside our differences to get it done. We could acknowledge we don’t believe, think or act the same, but that doesn’t have to be an obstacle to doing what we were being paid to do. Which begs the question — if we could figure this out, why the hell can’t Congress?
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.
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