I’ve heard Jim Carrey used to follow a cardinal rule when it came to acting: that you don’t take the character out of the context of the movie. And I’ve seen him at the Golden Globes talking out of his ass, like he did in Ace Ventura, but it was his idea, not Warner’s. Nevertheless, there was Carrey, dressed in a really sad elephant costume, selling out big-time on Fox’s American Idol to plug Horton Hears A Who! from the same studio. Granted, the comic’s career has been DOA at the box office in recent years. (His last film, The Number 23, was a huge flop for New Line. And last summer he accepted what Hollywood considered the worst talent deal ever for a movie.) But Carrey received a whopping $8 million for his voiceover work on Horton, the result of a sop from Fox studio bosses after they’d pulled the plug on the $112 mil comedy Used Guys he planned to do with Ben Stiller back in 2006.
During Idol‘s Wednesday night elimination show, Ryan Seacrest intro’ed Carrey, who sat in the audience looking embarrassed. Because he was wearing an elephant head, elephant ears, elephant trunk, elephant torso, and elephant feet. Then this really inside bit of Industry banter ensued:
“This wouldn’t be a Fox film?” Seacrest asked Carrey.
“Uh-oh. Busted!” Carrey answered. “You like to point out the elephant in the room, dontcha? Yeah, it’s a bit of cross-promotion. When you do a movie with Fox, you’re contractually obligated to do a certain amount of that, you know.” (See the YouTube clip.)
It got worse. Out of costume, Carrey sat with the Top 12 contestants just as they were about to hear who was being voted off the show. Seacrest got in Carrey’s face: “Buddy, I got to get to these results. America’s voted. They love you. But, Jim, we already did the plug.” With that, Carrey was ushered offstage. There were no great bits. No big laughs. Some on the Internet later accused Carrey of “shameless promotion”. To me, it was just senseless humiliation.