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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday July 19, 2018 

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AFI AWARDS 2001 – THE RUSSELL CROWE INCIDENT

An incident around Russell Crowe soured what was already a controversial* event as far as some of the media were concerned, reports Andrew L. Urban.

After winning the inaugural AFI’s Global Achievement Award and presenting Kerry Armstrong her Best Actress Award for Lantana, Russell Crowe was ushered into the media room. He was announced and he posed for photos before taking a seat at the microphone-spiked table for what was to be a brief press conference.

[The procedure was that as winners were escorted to the media room, a young lady at the lectern would announce them with a brief outline of their award and a few words about their career. Sometimes, the volume of the telecast would be turned down so the questions and answers could be heard. Sometimes not. With the auditorium so close, we could also hear the live speakers.]

The room, with a cordoned off podium for the winners, was served with several tv monitors to show the live telecast, which was taking place downstairs and almost within sight. The media was barred from the auditorium, except of course for Seven which took over the event as if they had just invaded Poland. (Security around us media was consistent with a Level 1 nuclear alert.)

"the Global Achiever kept cool"

As Russell was in the middle of answering the first question, the lady at the lectern announced on the PA that Kerry Armstrong was also "in the room". Kerry had been ushered in beside the podium at the ‘in’ door. Russell was surprised by the loud interruption – no more so than were we in the media who felt embarrassed by what appeared to be a rude and insensitive gaffe. Kerry was then urged to take a seat next to Russell, and she walked behind his chair as he continued his answer. She sat down next to him while the Global Achiever kept cool and replied to a couple more questions. It was a distinctly uncomfortable scene, and when Russell stood to go heading for the way he came in, the young lady at the lectern tried to direct him back towards the ‘out’ door, but Russell walked past her and muttered something that caused her expression to change. I think it’s probably spelt *#!*&#@****!

Outside in the starlit carpark at the back of the Exhibition building, Russell lit himself a calming cigarette; to say he was fuming is an understatement. He could have made a scene at the time, but he behaved professionally; I wonder which other media will report the incident.

See clip of incident
LO HI
(we were recording for vision only - hence the imperfect sound)

* Seven Network placed tight restrictions on all other media and for the first time most working media was not invited to the after-party.

AFI Winners 2001

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AFI 2001: THE WINNERS, THE NIGHT

Media note 1:
The media had no chance to greet Russell Crowe on the red carpet at the start of the 2001 award presentations; he still hadn’t arrived when the telecast began. When he did eventually arrive, report the determined handful of photographers who had invested their time waiting for the hot photo opportunity, he breezed past them all straight into the building.

Media note 2:
Special guest Sydney Pollack was unescorted through the media room, where all media (except the Seven Network team) was corralled. There was a young man from community station 31 who would approach all the winners and guests with a handheld digital video camera and impose on them to record a station ID: "I’m Star So and So - you’re watching Station 31." When Sydney Pollack registered his reluctance, the young cub pushed his case. Pollack turned round looking for assistance, asking "Should I do this?" but finding no-one to assist, felt constrained to oblige. He recorded the ID (but had misunderstood the request and confused the message) with as much grace as could be expected. Great for the image of Australia’s media. Thanks laddie.

Media note 3:
The Urban Cinefile crew of cameraman Greg Kay, Louise Keller and myself had taken up a vantage position near the exit door of the media room, to enable us to record individual interviews with the winners and presenters. When others saw our success, several crowded our position. Fair enough. Free country. But one lady with a tape recorder had the audacity to butt into my every interview with her microphone poking between my subjects and myself, recording my interviews - without the courtesy of asking. Such amateurism gives us all a bad name, and sadly, the media security controls do not keep these people out.







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