GEORGE: Good afternoon. On behalf of us both and Handmade Films, welcome. I'd like to ask for maybe a bit of order. Whoever wants to ask a question, maybe you could say your name, what newspaper you're from, and also your intentions at the next general election.
QUESTION: Madonna, what kind of boss is George Harrison, and were you a Beatlemaniac?
MADONNA: I wasn't a Beatlemaniac., I don't think I really appreciated their songs until I was much older. I was too young to really get caught up in the craze. But he's a great boss, very understanding and sympathetic.
QUESTION: What sort of advice has he given you?
MADONNA: I think he's given me more advice on how to deal with the press than how to work in the movie.
QUESTION: Is it fun working with your husband, Sean Penn?
MADONNA: Of course it is. He's a pro. He's worked on several films and his experience has helped me.
QUESTION: Has it caused any personal problems off set? Do you argue at all?
GEORGE: Do you row with your wife?
QUESTION: George, is it true you are playing a cameo role in the film?
GEORGE: Well, yes and no, really. There is one scene in a nightclub with a band playing in the backround, and because im writing the music to the film I decided it would be easier if I was the singer in the band.
QUESTION: Mr. Harrison, are you confident that this film is going to be as successful?
GEORGE: I think so, yeah.
QUESTION: It seems as though it's a more ambitious film than A Private Function.
GEORGE: Well, it is certainly a larger-budget film than A Private Function, but it's totally different to any of the previous films we've made. It's sort of an adventure film, slightly humorous. I think it's actually a very-good looking film This will be the thing in the end because there has been so much written in the papers that has absolutely nothing to do with what the film is about, and these two people have spent the last couple of months working on this thing.
QUESTION: George, when you hired Mr. Penn, did you think that there would be ... let's face it, this film is surrounded by a lot of hype.
GEORGE: Well, you're the people who create the hype, let's not get that wrong.
QUESTION: What I'm saying is, did you expect the sort of coverage you're getting?
GEORGE: I did expect a certain amount of commotion from the press, but I must admit I overestimated your intelligence.
QUESTION: George, there's been a lot of reports that you've had to personally separate the warring factions on the set. Do you think this will affect the film adversely, and would you work with Sean Penn again?
GEORGE: Sure. I happen to like Sean very much because I don't see him like you. I see him as an actor who we hired and the role he plays, and he has played plenty in the past - which is one of the reasons we chose him - is of a fiesty young guy. That said, he's actually a human being who's very nice, and he's a talented actor. You just have to separate the two things, his job and his ability to do it and the sensationalism because he happened to marry Madonna.
QUESTION: Why isn't Mr. Penn here at this conference?
GEORGE: Because he's busy working.
MADONNA: He's in more scenes than I am.
QUESTION: Would some of the commotion been cut down a bit if the original press conference hadn't been canceled? Isn't this just one of the old Hollywood ways of getting publicity?
GEORGE: The press conference was postponed because after we returned from Hong Kong the schedule had to be reorganized and, let's face it, we're here to make a film, not hold press conferences.
QUESTION: One of the people from HandMade told me that the reason they canceled it was that after the scene at the airport they didn't feel like giving the press an even break. Is that true?
GEORGE: Well, maybe that's true as well. I can't speak for whoever said that. You'll have to ask them. The purpose of this is to try and clarify some situation. I can see attitude written all over your face. There's no actual point in you asking anything because you've already predetermined what it is you're going to say. I'd like to ask if there's anybody who is actually honest? That's what we want, a bit of honesty. Because if you want the truth, you'll get it. But I don't suppose that some people here are actually capable of recognizing it when they see it.
QUESTION: George, what do you think of the so-called British film revival? Do you see Letter To Brezhnev and do you have any plans to film in Liverpool?
GEORGE: Well, actually, Letter To Brevhnev resurrected my original belief in the character of the Liverpool people. It's a fantastic example of how someone with no money and no hope can actually get through that. I think it's fabulous. I've not spent a great deal of time in Liverpool over the years, but I'm happy to say the film has revitalized my image of Liverpool people. I think the British Film Year was a good idea, I think to a degree it helped a lot.
QUESTION: Madonna, will you be singing on the contract at all?
MADONNA: I'm not really thinking about the musical aspects of the movie. I'm just trying to concentrate on the acting.
GEORGE: At this point I'm doing the music. If she wats to, she's welcome, but she wasn't hired as a musician.
QUESTION: Madonna, I wonder if either you or your husband would like to apologize for incidents which have involved bad behavior on your behalf?
MADONNA: I have nothing to apologize for.
GEORGE: I would add to that. Everything that's been written in the papers has been started by someone in the press, either the photographer that sat on the hood of the car or the woman from the radio station who broke in and also the appalling behavior of the journalist who actually stole photographs from the the continuity woman. So there's nothing to apologize for. I think certain elements of the press should apologize and at the same time I hope that they're not the ones who have made us angry.
QUESTION: Do you think the situation has been antagonized by the enormous amount of security that's being used?
MADONNA: We don't have an enormous amount of security.
QUESTION: There is today.
GEORGE: Yes, today. If you had been with us in the car trying to get in here, you'd realize it's just like a bunch of animals. Absolute animals. Do you just want us to get torn apart and beaten up? Because that's really what those people are like.
QUESTION: You must have realized what the British press are like. Do you regret shooting the last few weeks here rather than in the States?
GEORGE: It's a British film. You know, if you like, we'll all go to Austrailia and make our movies there in the future. We'd like to make them in England. We'd like to be reasonable and we'd like you to be reasonable because it doesn't do anyone ... I think in a way certain of the press have actually got in the way. You would have achieved more if you had a different attitude.
QUESTION: But big stars come over here and make films perfectly well.
GEORGE: You know it's you, the press, who decide how big you want the stars to be. Let's face it, stars are actually people, human beings who have become famous for one thing or another and that is usually encouraged by the press to the point where the only thing left to do is knock them. It's a historical fact and it's unfortunate that she happens to be going through that at this time.
QUESTION: Surely it was worse in the sixties?
GEORGE: It was worse because it was a new experience to me. But now I don't give a damn what you say about me, because I know who I am and I know what I feel and I know you can't get me anymore. The press can't get me. You can write your snide little things about me, but ultimately I'm all right. I know I'm all right. I don't care about those kind of snide remarks. I care about the truth.
QUESTION: You depend on the media for publicity. Without the publicity no one would go to your films. So what are you standing there saying we're wrong to be here for?
GEORGE: I didn't say you were wrong to be here. I was just making a point. He asked, "Is it any different from the sixties," and I said, "Well, in the sixties it was a new experience for me, but now I've been through so much I've learnt how to deal with it." I didn't say anything about what you said.
QUESTION: We have loads of film stars over here, but have never had these sorts of fights.
MADONNA: When Robert DeNiro comes to the airport, are there twenty photographers that sit on his limousine and don't allow him to leave the airport?
GEORGE: Those people, let's face it, are big stars, but they're not news.
QUESTION: But I've never seen scenes like this.
GEORGE: Yes, but it's been created by the press. All those photographers are out there to get as many pictures as they can because they sell them to everybody. They make money out of it because she's hot they're trying to make as much money as they can.
QUESTION: But that's why you hired her.
GEORGE: Yes, but we're expected nonanimals. You're all quite nice now, aren't you?
QUESTION: Talking of animals, is it true Sean Penn has been on the set giving orders ...
GEORGE: What kind of introduction is that? That doesn't even deserve an answer.
QUESTION: What about the incident at the airport?
GEORGE: That was the press jumping all over the car.
QUESTION: It wasn't the press that was at fault. There were two other people who were involved who were plainclothes detectives and they shouldn't have been involved.
GEORGE: But nevertheless he was trying to jump on the front of the car as it drove away. What do you expect? Whatever the facts, it is still something which doesn't really justify the amount of attention it's been given.
QUESTION: How do the naked scenes fit intothe movie?
GEORGE: It's not that kind of movie.
MADONNA: There are no naked women in this movie.
GEORGE: Lots of naked men, though!
QUESTION: Madonna, do you care what's said about you in the press?
MADONNA: I think what George meant was he doesn't feel it anymore when bad things are written about him.
GEORGE: I don't particularly want you to say more nast things, but I've learnt not to read them. It's just water off a duck's back. Otherwise we would all be ulcerated, wouldn't we? The sad thing is that people have got brains in their heads and maybe we should just try and use some of the other cells in our brains rather than the ones that are just to do with this sensational stuff.
QUESTION: What is your favorite scene in the movie?
GEORGE: I like it when she kills the monster from outer space!
QUESTION: What state of production are the other current HandMade titles in?
GEORGE: We've got a number of films in the making, because we've been able to break even, or have been able to come up with funding for certain films. Some of them are scripts that are being worked on. Others are in the casting stage. For instance, there's a film called Travelling Men, which has been in preproduction for a number of years. That's to say that the script is being improved, we've had certain actors we've wanted in the film and we've had to wait because one of them would already be making a different film.
QUESTION: When did you first become aware of Madonna?
GEORGE: I don't know. A couple of years ago ...
MADONNA: When he wrote, "Lady Madonna"!
QUESTION: Were you aware of her records?
GEORGE: Sure, I was aware of her with all the TV, videos, and stuff. The first time I heard her was on the radio when I heard her singing something about living in the material world!
QUESTION: Madonna, I hear your management contract is up for sale. And George, would you like to buy it?
MADONNA: You're a little troublemaker, aren't you!
QUESTION: Was this film written for Madonna and Sean Penn?
GEORGE: It wasn't. Itr was taken from a book called Farraday's Flowers and the producer wrote the screenplay. We talked about various possibilities for casting and someone suggested Madonna. Apart from the fact that everyone knew she was a famous singer, if you say Deperately Seeking Susan, you know even Barry Norman agrees that there was some potential there. She got the screenplay, and Sean Penn, who had also worked with John Combs, the producer, on a couple of other films, read the screenplay and said that he would do it too. It was quite a coincidental thing. It wasn't sort of a huge plot to get these newlywed people; I don't think they even got married then. In a commercial sense, it was obviously good to have her in it because it's better than having somebody nobody has ever heard of. But the rest of it was just luck. But I mean, lots of our films do have people no one's ever heard of. It's not any policy.
QUESTION: How many actresses had you seen for this part?
GEORGE: I'm not too sure of that. I wasn't in the country at the time. There were obviously other considerations, I know there were for Sean's part. Butt here's no point in me giving you a list of people who I thought would play the part well.
QUESTION: What are your responsibilities as an executive producer?
GEORGE: Well, really the part I've played in the past was to provide the film unit with money - and apart from that, if there's any comment I would like to make on the screenplay or the casting. It varies from film to film. Some films I have very little to do with and others, like this one, I have a lot to do with. But there's no way around it on this one because originally I was just going to do the music, but I got dragged in once more than I would normally. Usually I tend to like a low-profile existance and it's been years since I got involved in the newspapers like this.
QUESTION: George, are you happy with the progress of the film despite any difficulties you've had?
GEORGE: Whatever difficulties there have been are all behind us. I hope this press conference will help us calm down things a little. I'm very pleased with what I'm seeing on the screen, which is the main thing. That's all I want, to get them to be able to complete shooting with the least problems.
QUESTION: Is it true there have been problems between Jim Godard and Sean Penn?
MADONNA: No, it's not true.
GEORGE: No more than in any other film, you know. Every film has discussions or debates as to how it should proceed.
QUESTION: Do you tell the director to change camera angles?
MADONNA: I don't tell anyone anything and neither does Sean.
GEORGE: I think most people look through the camera, because when you're on the other side it's handy to know what is actually in and out of shot.
QUESTION: Did you say it's been a great many years since you held a press conference?
GEORGE: Me personally, yeah. I think 1974 was the last time I did a thing like this. I just do gardening, you know. I like a nice quiet life!
QUESTION: Despite it all, Madonna are you happy?
MADONNA: I am.
GEORGE: That's about it. Thank you.
MADONNA: We're not such a bad bunch of people, are we? Bye.