Chasing Celebrity(ies): Interview with Cory Rivard
OVERSATURATED is a 6-part interview series by independent filmmaker, Ashley Good.
Through a series of interviews with individuals in front of, chasing, or inspired by the limelight, OVERSATURATED will explore a ménage of topics including: self-commodification, the chicken and the egg situation of the teenagers influencing celebrity culture and celebrity culture impacting teenagers, and the use of celebrity stories as a political distraction.
For Part 3 of Oversaturated, I sat down with screenwriter and filmmaker, Cory Rivard. Cory is the every-man’s Kevin Bacon. In fact, I would argue that through Cory, the world is connected through five degrees instead of six. This man has practically met everyone, and is seemingly always just a few seconds away from getting his fifteen minutes of fame.
Disclaimer: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
To those that don’t know you, you are basically of the Forest Gump of famous stuff. Whether it’s deliberate, or by accident, you somehow find your way into these situations. You’re also a screenwriter and filmmaker, which gives you an even more unique insight into celebrity culture.
With [celebrity], there are so many people going in through the front door, I figured it’s easier to try to sneak in through the back.
So here’s something I never ask someone to do, but… Please, name drop.
Brad Pitt, Bono, Robert DeNiro, The Black Eyed Peas, Paris Hilton, Bill Murray, Ozzy Osbourne…
Yes, and Jerry Seinfeld, Liv Tyler, Smashing Pumpkins, Steven Tyler, John Mayer, Diana Ross, Norah Jones… Umm… Who else?
You really like this Avril Lavigne story.
I just really want to hear about that story, if you’re allowed to talk about it.
Of course, it’s my favourite story.
Maybe the reader should first Google, Cory Rivard and Avril Lavigne…
That’s the Hilary Duff you’re thinking about. Easily confusable! *Laughs* Google “Winnipeg Groupie Ruffles Duff’s Feathers.” That should do it.
Wait, what is the Avril Lavigne story then?
That’s the Grammy party story! … In 2003, I went looking for Grammy parties in New York City, and I found one when I saw Avril Lavigne and a red carpet and a huge kerfuffle…. Four of my friends and I tried to get in. So when I snuck past the door, I looked behind me and the bouncers are throwing my friends over their shoulders… I b-lined left and hid upstairs in the bathroom — when I ran upstairs I passed Bonnie Raitt and Vanessa Carlton and almost had a heart attack — so, anyway, I went and hid in the bathroom for a moment, and standing right next to me in the bathroom was one of the Barenaked Ladies, which continued my heart attack.
As I left the bathroom, the Barenaked Ladies guy started talking to me, and then Matt Stone from South Park came up and started talking to me… My heart attack continued… So then I went downstairs where some guy called me over to sit with him. He was there with one other guy. I wasn’t quite sure where I recognized him from. He asked what I was doing there. I lied and said my Grandpa was nominated for a Grammy, for Classical Composition or something. And I asked him what he was doing there. He said he just won Best New Artist, and then I realized I was talking with John Mayer. Then John Mayer and I proceeded to talk the open bar for the night, where I watched John Mayer be starstruck by Diana Ross, so we went and hung out with Diana Ross… Elvis Costello, Diana Kroll, they all joined us. It was an incredible time.
Seriously though, how did this start? This, being your series of experiences…
I always had a keen interest in pop culture, via my Mom’s Entertainment Tonight viewing and Enquirer subscription. I went to New York right after high school. Jerry Seinfeld and Colin Quinn walked past me. … My brain exploded, and I had this realization that celebrities are just people that you can actually approach and talk to. I just kept using that as a tool in my life.
A lot can be said for the power of confidence and faking it until you make it.
That’s very true. I mean, I haven’t paid for a concert in about 20 years. If you just walk with a cell phone, you can walk in anywhere… I’m sorry, I really want to say something intelligent…
It’s okay. You’re exhausted because you had a date last night with someone, um, “pop culture relevant.”
A little off topic, but what do you think of the fascination that younger people seem to have with Instagram influencers and online celebrities?
Celebrity when I was younger, I don’t think focused as much on, um… stupid people. Jerry Seinfeld was one of the most famous people around when I was younger, and he’s one of the more brilliant men alive.
What do you think draws young people to Instagram celebrities versus, more traditional celebrities?
It’s a popularity contest. Instead of being the coolest person in the room they’re trying to be the coolest person on the internet.
Maybe people think that, “Oh this person has 100,000 followers, I should like them too…” What attracts you to the people that you are a fan of?
Usually talent. I was most excited to meet Robert DeNiro, and other film heroes of mine. But I would still get a kick out of meeting, you know, Nelly.
You haven’t met Nelly yet?
I haven’t met Nelly. I met Puff Daddy, or P. Diddy. He was one of the surprisingly nice celebrities out of all of them.
So I shouldn’t go into the conspiracy theories about Biggie and Tupac and Puff Daddy…
I’m pro Puff.
You said that your mom’s tabloid magazines were one of the reasons you got into pop culture. Does she know? What does she think of your stories?
She probably wishes I was a doctor or something. But she made this person, so this is how it is. *Laughs*
Do you feel that a fixation with celebrity can be an unhealthy thing?
Absolutely. But that depends on the version of fixation. For me it’s like an adventure.
You seem to look at things more critically.
Yeah. Sort of like a hobby? Maybe not a hobby, like an adventure? “Which celebrity can I try to meet today, so I’m not bored?”
Have things like #metoo and the other news stories out of Hollywood these past few years impacted your view on celebrity culture?
I think my view has always been that they are regular people who are capable of terrible things.
You don’t have to use names but what’s the worst thing you’ve seen?
My mind just goes to Hillary Duff, who I am not a fan of… Um, I got into a fight with Jenny Lewis’s boyfriend. Bill Murry broke it up. I took an olive off of his (Jenny Lewis’ boyfriend) plate and he got up and threatened to shove the olive up my ass. Bill Murray literally jumped between us to stop the fight, so that was fun…
Was this at the Grammy party?
It was at a party at Elvis Costello’s.
You sort of started this whole adventure when working on one of your screenplays…
I went to New York to write a movie about a rock star. We went to LA together, New York together, Nashville together… She introduced me to her family, the Smashing Pumpkins, Debbie Harry… That was just like, a three-year adventure.
And that was just because you wanted to write a screenplay about her.
I wanted to make movies anyway and figured, why not make one about this interest (celebrity culture) that I have? And there for I did.
Are you able to talk about the documentary you are working on right now?
It’s called Super Duper Sparkling Magic, about a guy called Christopher Curpen who is the most interesting guy on Earth. [He is] the most eccentric guy in all of Winnipeg, an eccentric hippie who just turned 50 and lives in a mansion. A camera crew and I followed him around over the past year. [Definitely] the most interesting guy alive — he was a lot of fun to follow around.
On your quest for celebrity adventure… Do you have a goal that you are trying to achieve? Are you trying to be famous yourself, or are you just along for the ride?
It took a few years for me to realize that the adventure part was fun, but did not have a lot of long term pay off. So I’ve kind of slowed down in that department, and am now focusing on film-making, and going all of the way with that on my own. And not latching on to celebrities as much. I’m going to make my own celebrity. Within myself.
And, star wipe!
Would you welcome the chance to be famous yourself?
Without a doubt. I expect it. *Laughs* I’m half way there. … I think that you sort of attract what you’re looking for. To a degree, these things kind of fall in to my lap. I went to Mexico, like one time ever, and on the resort Nick Lachey just happened to be staying there next to us. Everywhere I go, it sort of happens. It’s strange. …
Dina Lohan, Lindsay Lohan’s mom, was just on celebrity big brother, where one episode focused on her having a long-distance boyfriend who she had never actually met. She talked to him on the phone all the time. Everyone was making fun of her and saying she was being catfish because this guy never even face timed her or anything. So anyway, the show finishes, and I’m talking to my friend, the TV’s on the in the background, and this guy that I knew when I was in LA with [the previously mentioned rocker]… She was dating this really rich weird dude that I knew from LA. That was the cat fish guy! And uh, TMZ ended up reporting all of this stuff. The guy was a mess. He was obsessed with me.
We went out drinking. He fell through the table all Chris Farley style. I was really considering calling TMZ…
Do you think he’s trying to fill the wounds in his broken heart that you gave him, with Dina Lohan?
It’s likely. It’s almost certain.
So, you don’t go out of your way to end up in these situations?
Maybe a little from column A and a little from Column B. But, it does just seem to happen. Or, you recognise what you enjoy right? I have an eye. Like, there’s no famous person that’s walking by without my noticing.
There is something that can be said for the universe responding to what you put out.
I don’t know what I’m putting out, but there’s some weird stuff coming back.