LiLo, aka Lindsay Lohan, was on the stand again this week – only this time her interlocutor wasn’t a sour-faced judge but a late night TV host. In her first television interview in six months, the actress was ostensibly appearing on Late Night with David Letterman to promote her work in Scary Movie 5. From the moment she sat down, though, she was on the receiving end of a fusillade of questions about shoplifting, her addiction problems, and an impending stint in rehab.
A visibly uncomfortable Lohan tried gamely to avoid answering but was clearly at a loss when Letterman refused to abandon his line of questioning. At one point, she lightly chastised him, “We didn’t discuss this in the pre-interview,” and, at another, pleadingly asked that the conversation move on to discuss the movie (request not granted). In the end, Letterman appeared to get what he was after: Lohan was moved to tears and acknowledged she has career- and even life-threatening issues she needs to work on. She said accepts responsibility for her actions and sees the 90-day court remand as a “blessing.”
The attack-dog approach was out of character for Letterman, and it rubbed many observers the wrong way. That said, others felt the 65-year-old comedian came off as more of a stern and concerned parent than a heartless journo, which may be more of the truth: Lohan has appeared on Late Night since 1992, when she was seven years old.
THE PR VERDICT: “B” (Good Show) to Lindsay Lohan for keeping her cool. Breaking down completely or walking off the set would have generated even more headlines.
THE PR TAKEAWAY: Expect the unexpected. Every meeting with a media representative should be treated as one that might cover the gamut, whether the interview takes place in the executive dining room or on the set of a talk show. Journalism has changed so dramatically over the past decade that what came to be known as “ground rules” can no longer be relied upon, even for sought-after subjects like LiLo. Nothing is off limits, so be prepared for anything, and everything.