I understand everyone is disappointed and upset at how the Morgan Freeman AMA went last night. We are too. We'd like to share with you everything we know and answer any questions about how we work with celebrities etc for AMAs. In regards to the Morgan Freeman AMA and celeb AMAs in general:

  • This was set up by the publicity team from the film studio for Oblivion. I interacted with them over the past few weeks to set this up. This is not uncommon for celebrity AMAs. Though it is not uncommon for an assistant or someone else to read the questions and type answers for a celebrity, we would never encourage or facilitate an AMA if we thought that someone was pretending to be someone. That system has worked pretty darn well.

  • We were told Morgan Freeman would be answering the questions for the AMA himself (with someone in the room typing what he said) and we believe this to be the case. If we find out otherwise we will let the community know and this would be a HUGE violation of our trust as well as yours. It's hard to imagine that a pr professional would go to such lengths to pretend to be their client in a public forum, but it's not impossible.

  • Most but not all of the bigger celebrity AMAs start with a publicist or assistant contacting us to get instructions, tips, etc. We send them a brief overview, the link to the step-by-step guide in the wiki, and sometimes examples of good AMAs by other celebrities. We also often walk through the process on the phone with the publicist/assistant, or sometimes even the celebrity themselves.

  • We do not get paid by anyone for AMAs.

  • We very often get approached by celebrities who only want to spend 20 or 30 min on an AMA or do nothing but talk about their project. We try to educate them on why an hour is the absolute minimum time commitment, and heavily discourage them from doing anything if they can not commit that much time.

  • On occasion we have "verified" to the mods that a user is who they claim to be. We usually do this just to let the mods know in advance what the username will be so they can prevent fakes. This is not usually an issue since we advise everyone to tweet or post a picture as proof. We won't do this anymore in the future and there should be public proof at the start of an AMA.

  • The mods here do an amazing job, and this incident was our fault, not theirs.

We will try to answer all the questions we can, but don't have much more information about the Morgan Freeman AMA, and are waiting to hear back from his publicity team.

Update: I have spoken to Mr. Freeman's/Oblivion's PR team and they have stated in no uncertain terms that all of the answers in the AMA were his words, and that the picture was legitimate and not doctored.

Comments: 3818 • Responses: 17  • Date: 

Addyct1320 karma

What are your personal opinions on the fact that /r/IAmA has become a routine stop on PR tours for seemingly every major media release that might interest the "reddit demographic"?

hueypriest1197 karma

I think it's great. Even with all the increased awareness, roughly half of the top AMAs of the week/day are non-celebrities people with extraordinary stories. http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/top/?sort=top&t=week. Anytime we talk to publicists we try to always remind them that just because XYZ is famous, it doesn't mean they are going to get a ton of attention nor the top spot on /r/iama, and that's one of the things that makes the platform what it is.

Goorilla97872 karma

Have you ever rejected a celebrity AMA for some reason?

hueypriest695 karma

Well, we can't forbid anyone from making a post here, but yes we have frequently talked people out of it.

Goorilla97342 karma

Like who?

hueypriest771 karma

Ted comes to mind.

CUNT_DESTROYER_3000737 karma

Why the photoshopped piece of paper on a sleeping Morgan Freeman?

Shuang322 karma

Yeah, that was just plain weird.

hueypriest644 karma

either way, yes. it was weird.

TheJoePilato598 karma

Has Woody Harrelson expressed any interest in returning for redemption?

hueypriest897 karma

Not as far as I know, but I really hope he does. If he carved out a good chunk of time to answer questions and knew what he was walking into I think it could be great. Everyone loves a good redemption story.

squatly537 karma

Thanks for this statement.

On occasion we have "verified" to the mods that a user is who they claim to be. We usually do this just to let the mods know in advance what the username will be so they can prevent fakes. This is not usually an issue since we advise everyone to tweet or post a picture as proof. We won't do this anymore in the future and there should be public proof at the start of an AMA.

I think it may be worth still telling usernames prior to the AMA if that's what you meant. We wouldn't have to make any "official" statements in the threads, but it'd help us incase something does go awry and they don't post proof straight away.

hueypriest444 karma

Yes, if we know the username ahead of time, we will still let you know, but this should not be considered proof. I didn't intend for it to be proof in this case, but that's what ended up happening.

Drunken_Economist356 karma

I guess the question then would be: if this isn't considered proof, should we have deleted the AMA for not having proof?

hueypriest505 karma

In the future, yes. And in the future we will make it unequivocally clear that public proof is needed at the start. To be fair to all involved, we did not make it as clear as we should have in this case (though they did tweet from the oblivion movie account early on I think).

underdabridge501 karma

How about in your briefings you give examples of poor IAMAs like Harrelson's and this one, and recommend that they not do one if they aren't really interested due to the PR risk.

I mean, even if they get Morgan Freeman to hold a picture or something, it's still easy for a PR rep to do the AMA while Freeman does other junket stuff. They need to know that this place is a risky place for spewing bullshit. You can seriously hurt a sci fi movie like Oblivion by doing shit like this in a geek central place like reddit.

hueypriest238 karma

We do that to some extent, but will be stressing this point even more in the futre.

classic__schmosby464 karma

How do you verify that the assistant/publicist actually works for the star?

hueypriest530 karma

Depends on the situation, but there are databases which list who represents stars.

r0ck0284 karma

So how do you confirm that they're said rep?

hueypriest445 karma

email address, phone number, birth certificate, and occasionally good judgement.

Astute_Fox428 karma

Could you perhaps divulge some cases where a celebrity set up the AMA by themselves and it wasn't through their PR?

hueypriest783 karma

One of the first big ones back in the day was Steve Vai. As far as I know he just dropped in.

TheOtherCumKing377 karma

Do you ever have any contact with a celebrity's team after the AMA? Or do they usually let you know what their experience was like or to address any controversy that may have risen?

hueypriest608 karma

yes! We often get contacted afterwards for them to say what a great time the celebrity had. Sometimes they just say this to be nice, but most times I think it's sincere. Though intense and time consuming, AMAs are more fun/interesting for most people than the normal boring press junket where you are going to get the same 8 questions over and over.

Daddybigdick251 karma

Whose was the worst celebrity you had to deal while setting up the AMA? Have any of them been incredibly rude?

hueypriest393 karma

Can't think of anyone who was outright rude. Several years ago, back when we had to actively recruit and book people there were a lot of publicists/celebs who said they would do one, but then kept blowing us off when we tried to schedule.

penguinbro189 karma

What was your favourite celebrity AMA? Do you ever request for certain celebrity AMA's?

hueypriest465 karma

Ken Jennings. We used to make requests a lot, but these days we don't do it that often, and when we do it's often for celebs to do an AMA in another subreddit (not /r/IAMA) like say for example: Shaq, if you are reading this please do an AMA in /r/NBA.

door_of_doom185 karma

If the Morgan Freeman PR team fails to properly respond to your requests, will the Morgan Freeman AMA be deleted for failure to provide proof upon request? i mean, right on the sidebar:

All AMAs require proof.

-Proof should be included in the text of the post when you start your AMA. If it must remain confidential, you can message it to the moderators and we can verify you.

hueypriest166 karma

That's up to the mods.