Last week, I wrote a comment about how sci-fi/ movie blog Hardcore Nerdity got to see 25 minutes of the upcoming "Star Trek" film. And with my subtle, bull-in-a-china-shop approach to journalism, I hinted that perhaps the Hardcore Nerdity folks are getting something under the table from the studios, much the same way some other websites seem to operate. Needless to say, my comments reached the Hardcore Nerdity folks, specifically Adrienne, one of the reporters for the site, whose comment to my article is longer than the article itself.
Her comments are below. I will say that after reading her comment, I feel less inclined to believe that Hardcore Nerdity is getting paid under the table and instead believe that they are just a damn good website that walks a beat on the same street we do (though they do it from the confines of Toronto, so they get extra credit). And kudos to its founder Jonathan Llyr for his hard work at putting an entertainment website together (something I clearly know nothing about) as well as his impeccable taste in staff.
Her comments are below:
Just got google alerted to your entry (ah yes, is there anything geekier than google alerts?) and I thought I could maybe just clarify a few points and answer a few questions you posed. I'm a correspondent for Hardcore Nerdity, for the record, not trying to hide my affiliation with the site. Please feel free to draw the conclusion that my opinions are highly suspect, though I can assure you I'm pretty good at being objective. Again, not that you can trust that point either really, it coming from me.
So. To answer some of your questions.
First off "why Toronto"? That one's pretty straightforward and quite common knowledge. Toronto is a huge film town. It's weird because growing up here I didn't much know that fact myself. I just assumed that all cities had preview screenings of major films where you were invited then to fill out comment cards etc. I'm not really all that connected in the industry (though now with my affiliation with the site, I am more so) and yet I have still seen a number of films months before they came out across North America. Heck the indy film "Once" was screened here, and both director and lead actor came to answer questions. And the lead actor even sang a few numbers for us including the one that won him the Oscar.
Anyway, I digress. I do that a lot. Sorry.
Point is, Toronto is a testing ground for films. Not just in our Film Festival which has grown to become comparable to Cannes and Sundance, but also just in our day to day movie going lives. We love movies. Star Trek is not the first, nor will it be the last, film to test the waters here.
Now as to the major crux of your point. About our site, and specifically Jonathan Llyr.
As a fellow blogger I am sure you understand the difficulty in getting a new website up and running. Hardcore Nerdity has been online under a year, and while our numbers are steadily increasing, you are right, we aren't exactly number one with hits and and exposure (not yet at any rate, fingers crossed). As a fellow blogger you probably also are aware of the catch 22. In order to get hits, you need exclusive content. In order to get exclusive content, you need hits. Oy, I say. Oy.
Now. Hardcore Nerdity gets some exclusive content (actually we are starting to get more and more as the months go on). Why, you might ask (and did)?
Well Jonathan Llyr (which is pronounced, btw "Lear" not "Liar", just to clear that up too) is actually not a non-entity. To you he may be. A lot of Americans don't know much of Canadians or our television (why would you? You only get a few of our syndicated stuff, so it isn't your fault or anything), but actually we have our own shows and channels and everything. Even our own celebrities (though of course once they go to the States, suddenly they become a huger deal up here. Sigh, don't get me started with all that . . . ).
At any rate, Mr. Llyr worked for the Space Channel (akin to your Sci-Fi channel) for 10 years. In that time he was a correspondent for a show called HypaSpace where he interviewed probably just about every celebrity in the SF/Fantasy genres - including both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Mr. Llyr is recongnised at any geek Con, and is considered quite the expert on all things of that genre. May I suggest you read about him in his "about" section at Hardcore Nerdity.
Hardcore Nerdity is his pet project. It is a site he started after leaving the Space Channel last year, with fellow Space producer Simon Evans. We also have a weekly podcast that features those two along with Rob Salem (again someone you have probably never heard of, though again, that doesn't mean he is insignificant, just Canadian) a staple TV reporter of the Toronto Star. And if you think Mr. Llyr has interviewed everyone, Mr. Salem actually HAS. There is almost no person in the industry (and this isn't just geek related, I'm talking the film/TV industry in general) who he hasn't interviewed or partied with. He is also close friends with Lucy Lawless (which he likes to remind us of at every opportunity ;) ).
These three gents come with considerable clout. What's more, they come with considerable connections. And while our little site may still be struggling to get off the ground, we have the advantage of their years of experience and the respect they command in the community. And so we still get some excellent content.
What's more we have the respect from the fans themselves. These three gents (along with the rest of us correspondents for HCN) are true geeks. We love this stuff. We are just like every other fan out there. And you will find no greater fan, well maybe you might . .. but it will be tough, of the original Star Trek series than Mr. Llyr. The fans know this about him, and they respect him even more for it.
Now, as to your comments about his "review" of the 25 minutes. I think you know the answer to this question, of why he didn't post anything new. I am sure you are well aware that these screenings are meant to build buzz, but unfortunately you are told at the beginning of it that you aren't allowed to share the content of what you saw. It's meant to be shown to people the fans respect so that these people can in turn tell the fans, "Don't worry guys, it'll be great", but still not give anything away. Trust me, Mr. Llyr would have written a spoilerific minute by minute account if he could have. He just wasn't allowed to.
Lastly, I think I have already answered why Paramount would show Mr. Llyr (along with a host of many other journalists) these 25 minutes. He is well respected in the community, and despite the fact that the website is new, his reputation is not. Thus he got an invitation (btw, when James Doohan passed away several years back, all Canadian media went to him to get his thoughts on the moment - he really is the go-to guy, is all I'm saying).
To be honest I would love it if Hardcore Nerdity were getting a little "sumthin-sumthin" to help boost hype for this film. We could use the cash. But in all honesty, we aren't.
And you should also know that up until he went to that screening, Mr. Llyr was pretty much convinced he was going to hate this movie.
But he saw it. Loved it. And called me directly after sounding like a ten yearold kid who'd just found out Darth Vader was Luke's dad. He was absolutely giddy.
Now I don't know if maybe your disbelief in our site's validity and credentials might come from your disbelief that this film could be good (in all honesty, until John said how much he loved the 25 minutes, I didn't think it was going to be either), but I think it gives us fans a bit of hope that actually this film could be great. Which is, in the end, all we want right?
Anyway. World's longest comment I know. I ramble. Apologies.
I hope what I've said has cleared things up somewhat. If you don't quite believe me, I invite you to check out our site a bit more thoroughly, listen to a few podcasts (where we have been fortunate enough to get some great exclusive content and interviews) and, if you want, even start your own page on the site to help drive, whatever limited traffic we currently get, to your own site. In fact, I think we could probably help each other out a fair bit. Only if you are interested of course.
I think I'll go now. I've pretty much talked your ear off (or is it "written your eyes out" - doesn't read quite right does it . . . ).
Thanks for reading all this, and I hope I've answered a few of your questions somewhat to your satisfaction!