Just call him Justin the journalist. Justin Timberlake spent the better part of a day last week tagging along with an Associated Press reporter and gaining new insight into just how all those stories make it to press. It was all in preparation for his first feature-film role as a rookie journalist in "Edison."
At a downtown Los Angeles courthouse, Timberlake observed how to get legal documents and read court files as part of his assignment to shadow an investigative reporter so that he could learn to play one himself (see "Justin Timberlake Signs On For First Big-Screen Acting Role"). Just as his character turns to a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for help, so did the pop star, enlisting Pulitzer Prize-winner Bob Porterfield as a mentor. Porterfield taught him how to gain access to public records by using the example of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last year by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington against Fry's Electronics for allegedly using their images in newspaper advertisements without permission (the suit was dismissed this January).
"He was interested in learning how you retrieve public records," Porterfield said in a story published by the AP. "Basically, I showed him how you find them, how you request them. I thought he was sharp. He seemed attentive and interested in learning this stuff. He has a real interest in developing his part. He took quite a few notes."
"Right now, he's putting all his attention toward the movie," Timberlake's rep Ken Sunshine said, "and that will be the case for the next few months."
Porterfield, who studied at Harvard University, won his first Pulitzer Prize in 1976 while he was at the Anchorage Daily News. He won a second Pulitzer for special reporting at The Boston Globe in 1980. He also teaches at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Production for "Edison" — which will also star Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman and LL Cool J — is scheduled to begin March 13 in Vancouver.